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August 10, 2017

Taking Data’s Lead So That We Do Things, Good Things

There was a time in my life where I sought to manage several positive change ventures at once. It hasn’t been easy by any means, but I think over time the right balance has found me.

To this day, I still fill many roles, some of which are keen to my existence as a human being who just wants to do good things. Some of my roles may be similar to yours. Then again, they may not be.

I gaze over the activities I am involved in currently.

I am an inventor of technologies.

I am an investor in successful companies.

I am a family and community member.

Making a positive difference matters to me in these roles. As the founder of a technology company, it matters that much more.

Of all the causes I have been a part of, in some way, shape or fashion, there was one that rose up beyond all others. The one that would make the most impact at a time where the need was most dire.

Efforts to improve the actions of a majority to be more environmentally conscious was it! And the way to do that was through use of DATA… Because, data, is available in ABUNDANCE.

There are many ways in which we can utilize data, particularly when technology is involved. In our last blog, Use Data to Create a Perspective and Watch Yo’self Do Bigger and Better Things, we gave lengthy examples of what data is, what it means to use it, defined its purpose, and identified industries that use data to increase their value propositions with their customers.

We take a moment here to talk about an industry that uses data every day to make real, tangible change in the world—the energy industry.

In this blog, we discuss:

How the energy industry discovered data as a necessity by looking at the history;

How data promises to deliver big when it comes to performance;

How to measure ROI using data; and,

How to become an insight-driven enterprise. 

Follow along as we discover the many purposes of data in the energy sector.

It is fascinating to us! It is also fascinating to those who want to make a similar impact on the world as we do.

**Could you be one of those people?**

 

Data and Energy, A Love Story That Started From a Crisis

To help you understand the uptake of data compilation and analysis in the energy industry, we provide a brief history of when data began coalescing with government initiatives. Let’s go back in time to the 1970s.

As you may or may not have learned in your US history classes, the United States is no stranger to economic recessions. Recessions like the ones in ’45, ’49, ’53, ’57 and ’60 are indications of how fluid the US economy can be. Its viability relies on the strength of the GDP, which fluctuates at the drop of a hat.

In the 70s, the circumstances were dire. It was during that time that the government took notice of its capability of preventative action through data analysis. What forced the recession?

Do you recall The OPEC Oil Embargo?

The United States experienced an economic downturn heavily influenced by oil prices and supply with the Embargo. “Oil prices jumped 350%,” and Americans felt the impact (The National Museum of American History, 1999).

Want to read more about the crisis? The National Museum of American History breaks it down here.

The National Museum of American History Website OPEC Oil Embargo Timeline

In the government’s eyes, it was time to take preventative action.

In 1974, the first law to address the needs of the time was the Federal Energy Administration Act of 1974 and, over the years, many subsequent laws followed.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) was born. We provide more on the EIA later.

The new Federal Energy Administration allowed the government to promote energy efficient management of functions. The use of data helped them achieve that vision. Energy data, collection, and “broad energy planning with particular emphasis on energy conservation were in total effect.”

Data was no longer a thing of the future. The use of data determined the future.

Its significance is ever-important in today’s world; and, it delivers BIG as a result.

Promises Made, Big Data to Deliver

Depending on the sector, public or private, there are many promises to live up to when utilizing big data.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, “Big data refers to data sets whose size is beyond the ability

of typical data software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze” (McKinsey Insights, 2017). That’s probably an apt way to describe the 848 petabytes of data that the U.S. government produced in 2009 (Techmerica Foundation, 2017). When it comes to insights drawn, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.

We extract correlations and patterns in the densely packed data to inform strategic thinking and to provide perspective. We’ve been able to undercut the ability of OPEC with data that have helped drive oil prices down and become more responsive to market conditions.

Today, smarter management of complex systems, data analytics, and automation are remaking the industry. These changes transform not only the companies that produce commodities such as oil and gas, they also do so for companies generating and delivering electric power.

Ultimately, the energy industry uses technology to power performance for better business outcomes so that consumers make good decisions, at the right time, and for a greater good.

We, at Inibii, contribute to this effort by helping organizations make sense of their data through automation of these complex systems. Data is accessible from anywhere and collects from a wide range of energy consumption sources. We provide the capability to automate consumption with onsite technology and mitigate usage through knowledge and incentives.

Knowledge is POWER.

When our customers are knowledgeable about the amount of energy they’re consuming, they do something about it. We’re happy to be a part of their efforts.

For organizations, the BIG ones, the ability to measure consumption means that they save a significant amount of money. They see the value in massive and diverse data and use it to make an impact on the planet.

How do they go about measuring their investment? Leave it to the government to set an example.

 Making the Investment Count – Measuring ROI

As a segment to the Department of Energy, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), as referenced above, is the nation’s premier source of energy information and, by law, its data, analyses, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the United States Government (EIA.gov, 2011).

The EIA operates and predicts how it will work to reduce America’s dependence on oil and improve energy consumption while utilizing the Department of Energy’s 2014 – 2018 Strategic Plan as a roadmap.

EIA’s program directly supports Goal 1 (Science and Energy) of the DOE’s Strategic Plan. Specifically, the EIA has identified four strategic goals enabling it to contribute to the Department’s mission in a meaningful way.

Take it as a roadmap for any organization looking to develop a foundation for measuring their ROI.

Goals 1-4 are below:

  • Goal 1: Transform data operations
  • Goal 2: Increase analytical impact
  • Goal 3: Improve the customer experience
  • Goal 4: Enable the mission

More on each goal can be located on the EIA website here and below.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2014 - 2018 Strategic Goals

Achieving these goals allows for intense focus on the gathering of data. “This information is disseminated in different ways, including reports, web products, press releases, data browsers, API’s, and maps to provide the context needed for its stakeholders. Their information is issued daily, weekly, monthly, annually, and periodically as needed or requested” (EIA.gov, 1999).

Some of their products deal with specific energy industries or fuels. Some products contain mostly data; however, some also have analyses and forecasts. Other products present an integrated view over different fuels or energy uses. Their Electricity Data Browser helps people visualize the statistics.

However you want to look at it, the EIA sets an example for predictive data that can be measured, learned from, and followed.

Are you an enterprise with this much insight? If yes, can you do more?

 

Insight-Driven Enterprises Can Do More – Much More!

How does your organization utilize data? Do you know how powerful the insights derived from data can be?

To gain the most value from data in this evolving competitive environment, many organizations are progressing beyond just using analytics, and are transforming themselves into being insight-driven enterprises. High-performing companies are accelerating their investments to create effective analytic operating models.

Through our research, we’ve identified three ways in which you can get started with moving forward on the journey. For a quick start, follow these fundamental principles:

#1 - IMPLEMENT an Agile Approach

Determine where your company is in regards to its “analytics journey” and what it needs to do to advance sustainable capabilities for reaching its goals.

#2 - DEVELOP Industrialized Execution Capabilities

Experiment with team structures and other approaches to ensure that talent from all required disciplines are identified, organized effectively, and retained.

#3 - SUSTAIN the change

Make an honest assessment of your organization’s understanding of analytics and undertake programs to raise acumen.

Insight-driven enterprises do what it takes to utilize data sustainability.

Are you:

Extracting insights from customer buying trends and incorporating those insights into upstream operations – as in the case of Tesla; or,

Operationalizing analytics and reinforcing an analytics mindset so that your organization reacts to insights faster and speeds the pace of business – as in the case of Proctor and Gamble; or,

Utilizing an offshore analytics COE (Center of Excellence), allowing your organization to ramp up analytics based on the demands and readiness of the business – as in the case of Australia’s Commonwealth Bank.

If not, what can you do about it?

Use the above fundamental principles (Implement, Develop, and Sustain) in your organization to be in the driver seat of your analytics. Want to know how? Making your buildings more intelligent is one approach.

Internet of Things (IoT) Help Buildings Owners Be, Well… Good Owners 

It is not enough to be a proven business owner these days. To sustain a business, you have to be a good one. An owner who understands his numbers takes the necessary safeguards to manage them. One way to do so, is by monitoring their operational costs.

For commercial building owners, this rings true (ding, ding). Their numbers are heavily weighted in how much their building costs to maintain (electricity, utilities, maintenance, retrofits, etc.).

What do they do when their costs are through the roof?

They can utilize technology!

The Internet of Things (IoT) is advancing a new breed of smart buildings that are better aligned with the priorities of property owners and managers. IoT enables operational systems that deliver more accurate and useful information for improving operations and providing the best experiences for tenants.

These owners, because of the greatness of technology, can take advantage of:

  • Smart Monitoring*
  • Smart Occupancy*
  • Predictive Maintenance*
  • Increased Cost-Savings*
  • Developing and Achieving Sustainability Goals*

…to name a few.

Accelerating this transformation, certain IoT building blocks simplify how building systems talk to the cloud and exhaustively analyze building data to uncover new business insights. They are capable of driving real value and greater performance.

Most buildings have some level of intelligence built in, whether HVAC, lighting, or fire safety. However, today, it’s possible to get more from building data, and ultimately, make better decisions.

Do you see the trend here? We hope so. Good decisions are made when informed.

Some of the world’s biggest giants are making good decisions. We discuss two of them next.

Global Giants Making a Global Impact!

When you are a big company, the attention you are paying is to the impact the organization is making on the environment and on people. That is certainly the case with two global giants like Google and Microsoft

These two companies have gone 100% renewable to change their consumption footprint. Here we take a moment to look at why they decided to make the change and how they achieved that goal.

Microsoft

“At Microsoft, we believe there is a clear and urgent need for society to address climate change, and we recognize that our responsibility begins with our own actions.”

 - Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft

We are all aware of the brand. Who isn’t? Is it satisfying to know Microsoft is taking initiatives to develop a 100% renewable business?

Heck yeah.

In our research, check out the following ways Microsoft is impacting the planet.

  1. The company has set goals to grow the percent of wind, solar, and hydropower energy.*
  2. The company invests in direct purchases of renewable energy and carbon offsets being 100% carbon neutral in their operations and business air travel.*
  3. The company supports public policies that enable new renewable energy sources.*

Microsoft continues to learn about and execute the many ways to become carbon neutral. We are interested in following their efforts for years to come!

Google

“Our founders are convinced climate change is a real, immediate threat, so we have to do our part.”

  • Marc Oman, EU Energy Lead at Google*

 Google has been the trendsetter in investing in renewables. They’ve signed long-term wind power contracts and invested in building wind and solar farms. They have also found opportunity in Power Purchase Agreements (long-term contracts to buy clean energy from a particular producer).

Their commitment is in promoting cleaner energy for a better future. Not only have they invested $2.5 billion in renewable energy projects, but they freely share technology that might help others study and respond to environmental changes.

At the companies, sustainability is a part of everything they do. The most efficient use of existing resources is done by focusing on finding new ways to do more with less – with the healthy disregard for the impossible in creating technology that improves as many lives as possible.

CONCLUSION

Throughout this blog, we discovered the many opportunities data provides the energy sector to make an impact subtly and significantly. We talked about the coalescing of data and the energy industry, the big promise made by data for those who use it, how to measure ROI, and becoming an insight-driven enterprise. We finished by showcasing two technology giants making an impact with their commitment to becoming 100% renewable.

What are you doing to reduce your organization’s environmental impact? Let us help you find out. We can discover the many ways in which data can help. It would be our pleasure to stand with you.

Want to begin a discussion? Click here.

You’re incredibly interested in data. Want to learn about the basics? We again invite you to check out this blog: Use Data to Create a Perspective and Watch Yo’self Do Bigger and Better Things

References:

Energy Information Administration. Legislative Timeline.

Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/about/legislative_timeline.php

Jacobs, Adam. ACMQueue, “The Pathologies of Big Data.” Retrieved from

http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=1563874

McKinsey Global Institute. “Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition and

Productivity.” Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/mgi/research/technology_and_innovation/big_data_the_next_frontier_for_innovation

Microsoft Corporation. RE100.

Retrieved from http://there100.org/microsoft

TechAmerica Foundation. “Demystifying Big Data: A Practical Guide to Transforming the Business of

Government.” Retrieved from http://www.techamericafoundation.org/official-report-of%20thetechamerica-foundations-big-data-commission

The Energy Information Administration. Products and Services.

Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/

The National Museum of American History.

Retrieved from http://americanhistory.si.edu/american-enterprise-exhibition/consumer-era/energy-crisis

Vaughn, Adam. The Guardian.

Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/06/google-powered-100-renewable-energy-2017

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