Photo credit Unhindered by Talent
Here is this Friday’s Green Numbers round-up:
Yesterday I got an update from an ERP company called Epicor that primarily serves the mid-market. While I am not an ERP specialist its always interesting, as a middleware guy, to get a view from the app side. Greenmonk for obvious reasons also takes a keener view than the RedMonk mothership in applications in areas such as carbon accounting, energy and utility management.
Epicor seems to be doing quite well in the down economy, but I was most interested when Adam Prince, senior Director of Product Marketing started talking to Epicor’s Green Retail strategy. While any number of IT vendors are now all over the sustainability opportunity in their marketing and product management very few have joined the dots around explicit vertical industry opportunities. That said, here is a white paper from IBM and Intel on sustainable retail ops.
One of our clients, StreamServe, pitches paper reduction to utilities. Given how much paper utilities create this is a compelling vertical-focused story.
But Epicor introduced another interesting idea to me. Reducing carbon footprint by changing the font on Retail point of sale (POS) terminals. Seriously. Less ink and less printing means less power. Some might say the savings would be too small to measure, but actually in cash terms the efficiencies add up pretty fast. Epicor’s advisory and tech works with IBM and NCR POS gear.
Epicor Green Retail is a services-led approach: consultants and business analysts come in to review the business’s energy consumption, review current systems configurations, and make suggestions about mechanisms to reduce the energy footprint of stores.
While changing fonts is only part of the opportunity around POS, the overall numbers appear compelling.
According to Lynne Davidson, vice president, Services and Support for Epicor Retail:
“Based on calculations from the U.S. Department of Energy, retailers can achieve 500-600 kWh or an average of $70 of power savings per register/device per year. If applied to 500 registers, in three years this could translate to roughly $101,000 in savings, a reduction in CO2 emissions by 60 tons and, from an environmental standpoint, is equivalent to planting 125 acres of trees.”
Another thing to think about then – small changes do add up. Some sustainability initiatives may involve whole new supply chains – others are as simple as changing a font. Oh yeah- the retailer will save some money on ink too. 😉
photo courtesy of NCR.com. I would have used an IBM image, but they. are. so. miserable. Hey IBM Retail marketing people POS doesn’t have to be monochrome!
I realised recently that although I have referred to the talk I gave in Barcelona on Mobile Sustainability (for the Mobile 2.0 conference) in a couple of posts I never talked about the talk directly here, so now it is time to redress that.
I have posted the slide deck above so you can follow along with the slides above and my explanation below.
Slides 1-3 are simply my introducing the topic and myself (along with my contact details).
I started off with a bit of a background:
- Slides 4-6 I start to talk about some of the reasons why sustainability is important. Climate change, for example, is real and is recognised as real. Even that last hold-out, the US government, has now admitted it is real and have set up the United States Global Change Research program to study the effects of Climate Change on the US.
- Slide 7 – New studies show that the impacts of climate change are likely to be worse than we anticipated
- Slide 8 – The polar ice caps are shrinking far faster than anyone predicted
- Slide 9 – Climate change is affecting animal populations today
- Slide 10 – Climate change is affecting the world’s river systems, and thus access to water for many people globally today
- Slide 11-13 – This is having devastating effects on people in South America, the Middle East, and Asia (and agriculture in Australia and California)
- Slide 14 – NGO’s are warning that the humanitarian systems, already stretched thin, will be overwhelmed
Then I went on to discuss the business case for sustainability today:
- Slide 15 – I referred to the 2001 white paper The Business Case for Sustainability [PDF warning] – produced by KPMG
- Slide 16 – I mentioned the McKinsey Quarterly publication How IT Can Cut Carbon Emissions
- Slide 17 – I brought up the MIT Sloane Management Review piece Using Corporate Social Responsibility to Win the War for Talent
- Slide 18 – Then there’s the Goldman Sachs GS Sustain focus list
- Slide 19 – Not to mention the AT Kearney “Green Winners” [PDF warning] research which showed that “during the current economic slowdown, companies that show a “true” commitment to sustainability appear to outperform their industry peers”
- Slides 20-22 – Examples of large companies (GE, DuPont, 3M) who cut costs, reduced carbon emissions and increased revenue by focussing on sustainability
Having set the stage (we need to be more sustainable, and look, there is a strong consensus that there is a business case for it too), I started to bring the talk around to the subject of the Mobile industry:
- Slide 24 – Quote from Smart 2020 report saying ICTs could deliver emissions reductions of at least 15% by 2020
- Slide 25 – While there are 1 billion PCs in the world today, and 1.4 billion Internet users, there are 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions
- Slides 26-29 – Examples of Green handsets from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. I made the point here that in many cases the ‘Green handsets’ being produced by manufacturers are simply so they can ‘tick that box’ in the annual report. Sony had 57 handsets on their website. 1 was green. Green handsets should be the rule, not the exception.
- Slides 30-33 – I checked out the websites some of the main mobile operators. 3 have no mention whatsoever (that I could find) of sustainability on their corporate website; the websites of Telefonica and O2 had Sustainability sites but they could both stand a lot of work, while Vodafone’s Sustainability site was the best of the mobile operators which I examined (that’s not to say it couldn’t stand some improvement too!)
- Slides 34-36 A quick look at some of the Sustainability apps which have been developed for the mobile platform – slim pickings, tbh!
So having shown how poorly this industry is doing in terms of sustainability, I posited a few what-if’s:
- Slide 38
What if manufacturers made phones which lasted 6 yrs not 6 months? Rent, not buy?
What if manufacturers made non-toxic handsets?
What if manufacturers standardised to usb chargers?
What if mobile operators switched to e-billing?
- Slide 39
What if carriers avoided unnecessary duplication in mobile networks, (would lead to a savings of 300gWh pa in UK alone)
What if everyone pushed sustainability down supply chain?
What if developers used mobile platform to build apps which ‘made a difference’?
What if grid computing client apps were created for mobiles?
Under the “Other” heading go ideas like creating Augmented Reality applications for handsets with sustainability related information, or what if the phone makers included pollution sensors (for example) in handsets. With the ubiquity of handsets and with most handsets having inbuilt Internet access, it wouldn’t be long before realtime information on air quality worldwide would be available. Combine that with an Augmented Reality app so people can visualize live their air quality and you would very quickly see changes in people’s behaviour.
Finally, I concluded with two quotes to show why this is critical:
- Slide 40 – From the 2007 IPCC Climate Change Synthesis Report [PDF Warning]
As global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5 degrees C, model projections suggest significant extinctions (40-70% of species assessed) around the globe.
- Slide 41 – From the Chair of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri
If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.
The thing to remember here is that Rajendra Pachauri is a George Bush appointee. He was appointed Chair of the IPCC because his predecessor, Dr. Robert Watson was deemed by the American fossil fuel industry (and in particular ExxonMobil) to be too outspoken.
Rajendra Pachauri and the IPCC’s quotes are the conservative point of view.
Mobile phones are ubiquitous. There are in excess of 4 billion of them. They are now for all intents and purposes hand-held computers, increasingly with an Internet connection. Shame on us all if we don’t leverage this incredible resource in the battle to mitigate the effects of climate change.
UPDATE: After I gave this talk, Vodafone, in conjunction with Accenture, issued a report called Carbon connections: quantifying mobile’s role in tackling climate change [PDF Warning]. In this report Vodafone claim that:
mobile technology could cut Europe’s annual energy bill by at least €43 billion and effect a reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 113Mt CO2e by 2020. This represents 18% of the UK’s annual CO2e output in 2008 and approximately 2.4% of expected EU emissions in 2020.
The report goes on to say that the opportunities for carbon savings come from two main areas – Smart machine-to-machine (M2M) services (Smart Grids, Smart Logistics, Smart Manufacturing and Smart Cities) and Dematerialisation (i.e. video-conferencing, online shopping, etc.).
A couple of major contract wins caught me eye, or ear this week – one by CA and one by Logica. Job one in moving to a lower carbon economy is working out what our current exposure is. Before we can model business processes in order to rethink their carbondynamics we need to do some basic counting.
Monday I went along to the launch of CA’s ecoSoftware product line and the announcement of a major customer-Tesco. I was interested to find out more because CA’s competence is primarily in managing IT infrastructure, but it obviously plans to break out into broader eco asset management, aggregating information from central heating and building management systems and so on.
Its important to note that CA and Tesco are starting small – with data center assets. But the scope of the project goes much much further. Its worth quoting from the press release (no, really!) to get a sense for the scale of the ambition.
With 468,000 Tesco employees working at more than 4,000 locations across 14 countries, the task of accounting for carbon emissions is time-consuming and complex. Tesco has implemented CA ecoSoftware to help increase the efficiency, speed, and accuracy of its carbon accounting process, enabling the company to more effectively track progress in pursuit of its ambitious carbon reduction goals.
“When we announced our plan two years ago to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% across all of our global operations, we knew we were taking on a big task,” said Mike Yorwerth, IT director of Tesco plc. “Since that time a number of people across the business have been involved in measuring, documenting and reporting on our emissions — a time-consuming, largely manual task. We’re also overseeing hundreds of projects around the world designed to reduce our carbon footprint, all of which need to be prioritized and measured. With CA ecoSoftware, we expect to streamline the process of data management, helping to reduce errors and operational expenses, and improve our ability to communicate major milestones.”
Based on ambitious targets announced in 2007 using 2006 as a baseline, Tesco plans to halve emissions from existing buildings by 2020; halve distribution emissions of each case of goods delivered by 2012; and halve emissions from new stores by 2020. The company has already halved its energy use per square foot in its UK stores and is diverting 100 percent of waste from its UK business away from landfill, achieving this target almost a year ahead of schedule.
Tesco’s goals are tremendously ambitious, especially considering that the firm has been using spreadsheets for carbon accounting until this point. But so should they be. Tesco will start by working with CA around data center power consumption, but then move onto building estate and business process issues. It will be exciting to watch this partnership evolve. Tesco’s targets are not just internal – its also investing in CA ecoSoftware in order to improve reporting to the Carbon Reduction Commitment.
Another big big win came last week with the announcement the MoD is to work with Logica to get a detailed handle on all energy consumption data at major Defence sites across the UK. Logica is a UK software and services company that is doing some really interesting work in sustainability -for example with its smart grid play. Unlike many other players entering the carbon accounting and management space Logica is a services company first, and software builder second. Any major carbon reduction program is going to require a consulting and services element, so this is all to the good. Logica’s SIRA sustainability reporting tool will capture real-time data from the energy smart meters being installed in buildings across UK Defence sites.
Under cross-government measures, the MOD has set targets to reduce its carbon emissions by 12.5% by 2012 and 30% by 2020, relative to 1999/2000 levels.
Its great to see these huge organisations working on carbon reduction. Big wins add up nicely.
If you don’t know about CRC it is important to establish a strategy now. The 5000 biggest users of energy in the UK will all have to report to the government on reduction efforts, as well as being put on a public league table… The green perception game is going to get some sharp teeth with CRC. Unfortunately only 41% of firms have heard of it.
neither Logica nor CA are clients.
Its been an exceedingly good couple of weeks for HP in terms of its sustainability reputation. First, Newsweek named HP the greenest company in America, and now Greenpeace has removed the penalty point against HP in its latest guide to greener electronics.
What has most impressed me about Greenpeace in this instance though is its attention to detail. You see, a couple of months ago I reported on Greenpeace’s use of the big stick about HP’s performance with respect to using PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride, or vinyl plastic) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in its PCs.
I was therefore hugely impressed when Tom Dowdall of Greenpeace International contacted me this morning to point out that HP has improved its ranking by taking these chemicals out of its newest machine.
Its easy to bash, but being constructive is a lot harder. Greenpeace seems to have this balance just about it right at the moment. So its well done Tom, well done Greenpeace, and of course well done HP.
photo credit brettf at flickr