For decades, energy management decisions have been based on data that appeared to be “sufficient” and the “status quo.” The best source of this data came from the monthly paper bills sent by utility providers. Data entry specialists keyed in the information needed to pay the bills, plus maybe a few elements to turn over to energy management and facilities for a tactical understanding of energy consumption. This was “good enough” for most companies.
However, with today’s big data standards, manually collected energy data is increasingly viewed as “inefficient” and “risky.” When describing energy data, these adjectives are almost exclusively used by organizations that have taken the time to understand the risks and missed opportunities associated with their manual energy data collection processes.
Energy data is frequently referred to as the foundation upon which energy management and sustainability programs are built. So, why is there apathy towards energy data in many organizations? Why do some companies continue to manually collect data or outsource the process to firms which in turn manually collect it for them? Why do organizations settle for data that is “good enough” when making million-dollar energy decisions?
One of the primary reasons for energy data apathy stems from a lack of understanding of exactly how energy data is collected. At some companies, boxes of paper utility bills are shipped across the country to central locations where the bill data is manually entered into various systems that are used to analyze energy usage and make big decisions. Could it be that energy decision-makers are so far removed from the data collection process? Or, is it the fact that most employees responsible for energy data collection simply don’t like their jobs and have consequentially slipped into autopilot mode?
Since joining Urjanet, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with many sustainability, energy management and energy accounting professionals who are all very passionate about their jobs and their missions to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. As a result, I think we can rule out job dissatisfaction as a primary reason for energy data apathy. I honestly believe the primary reason companies are apathetic about energy data is related to their lack of awareness that better energy data “mouse traps” are now available. A growing list of multi-facility organizations, energy software companies, and energy service firms are trading in their “status quo” energy data collection processes and tapping into the power of big energy data services. These new services automate the collection and normalization of data from your utilities and deliver it directly to your energy management, accounting, procurement and sustainability reporting systems.
In every generation, innovations transform the “status quo” in businesses and livelihoods. In response, some (possibly the apathetic) cling to the past, resist change and miss out on big opportunities. Others, of greater vision, wisdom and courage, climb the mountain of inaction to embrace innovation and prosper.
As the energy management dialogue moves from the boiler room to the boardroom, the view of energy data is shifting from a low level tactical function to a strategic asset capable of delivering material results. This shift is driving forward-thinking energy, sustainability, accounting, procurement and facilities professionals to seek new sources of energy data—sources that automate the collection, normalization and delivery of high quality data that minimizes risk and maximizes opportunities to reduce energy consumption, cost and carbon emissions.
To learn more about energy data apathy, check out my last Environmental Leader Post: Is Your Utility Data Collection Process Outdated? 7 Questions to Ask.
Gary Brooks is the CMO of Urjanet – the world’s first provider of automated Big Energy Data that enables companies, governments and educational institutions to make smarter, more profitable and eco-friendly decisions for energy management. Gary is a B2B marketing addict, occasional blogger, innovator and change agent with an entrepreneurial spirit and a proven track record of delivering breakthrough revenue performance. He has fueled his passion for innovation by serving in executive leadership roles at Alta Vista, Ariba, Bomgar, Cortera, Fortress Technologies, TRADEX, KnowledgeStorm and Servigistics. He holds a B.S. from Northeastern University and an M.S. from Leslie University. In 2006 the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) named Brooks as Marketing Executive of the Year.