Welcome to episode thirty two of the Technology for Good hangout. In this week’s episode we had SAP‘s Sameer Patel as the guest on our show. Sameer and I are members of the Enterprise Irregulars group – a loose group of analysts and vendors with an interest in enterprise software. Previous Enterprise Irregulars who have guested on the show include David Terrar, Craig Cmehil, and Jon Reed.
There was a problem which wasn’t apparent to us during the show and that was that the video from my side never showed up in the recording. I suspect that’s because I was using a beta version of Chrome, but anyway, the audio, and Sameer’s video feed was recorded, so all’s well.
This week we didn’t get through all the stories we had lined up, ‘cos we had such a good discussion around the ones we did manage to fit in!
Back in 2009 I remember attending Logica’s analyst day in Lisbon and being very impressed with their Renewables Management System (RMS) – a windfarm management desktop application which was at the time managing a live feed of 300-400 data points from 2,000 wind turbines all over the Iberian peninsula.
Logica has since gone through a merger/acquisition process and is now known as CGI. I’m not sure what the status of their RMS solution is now, but I was reminded of it when I attended SAP TechEd in Las Vegas recently.
At the event SAP’s Benjamin Wesson gave me a demonstration of an internet of things (IoT) solution SAP have developed. The demo app, as can be seen in the video above, showcases how a windfarm manager can manage remote (even offshore) windturbines, see the status of any errors, create/manage trouble tickets, see schematics, and deploy resources based on proximity and availability. All from a tablet.
As we head into an era where more and more devices are being connected to the Internet, creating this Internet of Things, we enter a time when we can interact with and control everything from large offshore windfarms, to light switches in our home, from our device of choice (computer, tablet, smartphone).
The implications of this are still far from clear, but it is plain to see that apart from the legitimate security and privacy concerns, the ability to measure and take charge of equipment at all times from wherever has massive potential ramifications for efficiency. Everything from “Did I leave the light on?”, to, “Do I need to alter the angle of that blade on that 6MW wind turbine in the North Atlantic?” can now be asked and answered from the screen of your device of choice.
If you want to learn more about the Internet of Things, I recommend you head along to our ThingMonk conference in London on Dec 3rd next. Benjamin Wesson will be speaking there, as will some other awesome speakers, and there’ll be great demo’s as well.
And if you can’t make it along, we plan to video as many of the talks as possible for subsequent publication.
I’m moderating a panel discussion on social media and utilities at next week’s SAP for Utilities event in Copenhagen. My fellow panelists will include two representatives from utility companies, and one from SAP.
However, there are also other very compelling use cases for social in utilities. In the US over one third of the workforce is already over 50 years old, and according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 30-40% of the workforce will retire in the next 10 years. This is not confined to the US and so recruitment and retention are topics of growing concern for utilities.
Now, utilities are rarely seen by young graduates as a ‘cool’ place to work. But this can change. Remember a couple of years back when Old Spice was the cologne your grandad might wear? Old Spice rolled out a social media campaign with a superb series of YouTube ads (the first of which has been viewed 45 million times). In the month which followed their sales went up 100%, and a year later their sales were still up 50%.
Videos like the one above produced by Ausgrid, while not about to rival Old Spice for viewership, do show a more human and appealing side of the company to any potential employees.
Also, when I ask utility companies whether they allow employees to access social media from their work computers, the majority of times the answer is no, or limited. Even if only from the perspective of retaining good employees, this has to change. Today’s millennials are far more likely to use social media as a way to network and find information online (see chapter four of this three year old Pew Research study on Millennials [PDF] for more on this). Blocking access to social media sites, especially for younger employees, is analogous to putting a rotary dial phone on their desk, with a padlock on the dial. Don’t just take my word for it. Casey Coleman, the CIO of the U.S. General Services Administration said recently:
Twitter is a primary source to gather information about changes in my industry. It helps the organization stay current with the latest trends and thinking.
Blocking employees access to social media stifles them from doing their job effectively, and any employee who feels that s/he is not being allowed to do their job properly won’t be long about looking for a new one.
Social media can also be used internally as a means of retaining knowledge from retiring workers, and as a way of making employees more productive using internal social collaboration tools (Jam, Huddle, Chatter, etc.).
There are bound to be more uses of social media (real or potential) that I’m missing – if you can think of any, please leave a comment on this post letting us all here know.
Also, the panel discussion is on next Friday April 19th at 3pm CET – we’ll be watching the Twitter hashtag #SocialUtils. If you have any questions/suggestions to put to the panel, leave them there and we’ll do our best to get to them.
Some recent conversations we’ve had with people in this space are starting to prove very positive.
We’ve had talks with GreenQloud. GreenQloud are based in Iceland, so their electricity is 100% renewable (30% geothermal and 70% hydro). They already measure and report to their customers the carbon footprint of their cloud consumption – so what discussions did we have with them? Well, GreenQloud use the open source CloudStack platform to manage their cloud infrastructure. Given that CloudStack is open source, and we’ve previously suggested that Open Source Cloud Platforms should be hacked for Energy and Emissions reporting, we suggested to GreenQloud that they contribute their code back into the CloudStack project. They were very open to the idea. Watch this space.
We’ve also met with CloudSigma, an IaaS provider based in Switzerland. CloudSigma were very interested when I raised this discussion with them at the GigaOm Structure event in Amsterdam earlier this year and they hope to have energy and emissions reporting ready to demonstrate very soon. In a way though, the discussions with CloudSigma went much as expected. We were after all, preaching to the converted. CloudSigma have a good environmental track record having announced that they are carbon neutral back in June 2010.
And finally, last week at the SapphireNow event in Madrid, we had a discussion about cloud providers lack of transparency with Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEO of SAP. Jim is an interesting guy. We’ve been covering SAP events for several years now, and every time we’ve heard Jim get up to speak, within the first few sentences he references resource constraints and sustainability. He drives an electric car. He’s totally bought into being green. He’s also a proponent of transparency. So when we raised the issue of the lack of transparency with Jim, his eyes light up and he got all excited. We had a great conversation on the topic which he concluded by saying “I want SAP to be a leader in this space”.
All very positive stuff, still no actual movement but things appear to be going in the right direction.
A bit of background – the Augusta National Golf Club is a private club, so it can set its own rules. Its rules have been notoriously discriminatory through the years – it didn’t admit black members until 1990, until recently it had a policy requiring all caddies to be black, and it continues to refuse women membership.
The fact that it refuses to allow female membership is now sharply in focus because the club has traditionally invited the CEO’s of the main sponsors of the US Masters to become members. By the end of this year’s tournament, despite IBM’s significant sponsorship, Ms Rometty had not been invited to become a member, because of her gender.
Now Ms Rometty is reportedly not a frequent golfer, so while it may not be a devastating blow to her game, it is a slap in the face that she wasn’t asked to be a member when her predecessors at IBM were. As were the CEO’s of the two other Masters sponsors (AT&T and Exxon Mobil).
IBM’s involvement with the event goes back many years and they are tied into it deeply not just financially but also at a technological level. According to Bloomberg
IBM is featured in the tournament’s TV commercials and runs its website, mobile-phone applications and media-center technology. Palmisano serves on Augusta’s technology tournament committee. He remains IBM’s chairman — a role Rometty is likely also to assume upon his retirement
Augusta may need IBM more than IBM needs the Masters…
So I wrote a post the other day entitled Have HP’s senior executives lost interest in Sustainability? after attending a HP event in San Francisco. It was a little unfair because I concentrated on the lack of mentions of Sustainability by senior management on the first day of the event while leaving out the fact that I had interesting discussions with people involved in sustainability initiatives within HP the following day.
One of those I talked to at the event, Deb Lyons, was concerned enough by my piece that she went to the trouble of emailing me some of HP’s more impressive Green initiatives:
HP published a fascinating paper [PDF] to quantify the carbon savings associated with switching from analog to digital printing and came up with a savings of somewhere between 114-251 MMtCO2 eq per annum (MMt CO2 is million metric tonnes of CO2) – similar to the savings which would be achieved by a broad implementation of lighting automation or extensive implementation of telecommuting!
When printing is absolutely necessary, HP have comprehensive paper conservation and sourcing policies which include “a goal that 40 percent or more of the HP branded paper sold will be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or have more than 30 percent post-consumer waste content by the end of 2011″, an Eco Printing Assessment for customers and a reduction of paper shipped “in the box”
France’s La Poste manages 180,000 PCs that sat mostly idle, yet still used as much electricity as if they were fully engaged in a difficult computing problem.
“The AVOB solution does what other solutions do by automatically putting the PC into low energy mode when inactive after a specified amount of time,” Charpentier explained. “That saved La Poste 50 percent on average. What AVOB does differently is to also automatically adapt power consumption of the PC depending on the task to save an additional 10 to 20 percent on the …
Joule Unlimited, pioneer of Liquid Fuel from the Sun™, today supported the high-productivity potential of its production process with the publication of a detailed analysis and model of its breakthrough solar-to-fuels platform.
Published by Photosynthesis Research, the peer-reviewed article examines Joule’s critical advances in solar capture and conversion, direct product synthesis and continuous product secretion, which collectively form a platform for renewable fuel and chemical production with yields up to 50X greater than the maximum potential of any process requiring biomass. In addition, the analysis counters prior assumptions about …
Waste Management, announced financial results for its fourth quarter and for the year ended December 31, 2010. Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2010 were $3.19 billion compared with $3.01 billion for the same 2009 period. Net income for the quarter was $281 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, compared with $315 million, or $0.64 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2009. The Company noted several items that impacted results in the 2010 and 2009 fourth quarters. Excluding these items, net income would have been $287 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with $257 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2009, an increase in earnings per diluted share of over 15%.
For the full year 2010, the Company reported revenues of $12.52 billion compared with $11.79 billion for 2009. Earnings per diluted share were $1.98 for the full year 2010 compared with …
Two today on peak oil and how the big oil companies are finally publicly (if quietly) coming around to what peak oil researchers have been saying for a while: It’s here, or will be shortly.
First, Wall Street Journal highlights how ExxonMobil is having a hard time finding new oil and has had a hard time for a while now. For the past 10 years for every 100 barrels it’s extracted it’s only been able to find 95 more. Natural gas exploration on the other hand has been very successful–enter, fracking.
Second, Raw Story sums up a report by Shell that at best …
Twitter is a fantastic tool for disseminating information, and the obvious corollary of that is that Twitter is a superb app for consuming information as well – depending on how you use it.
What is the best way to make sure you get the most information out of Twitter? Follow lots of relevant, interesting people!
It sounds obvious (if you aren’t following people, you won’t see their posts) but I see lots of people on Twitter who are following 100 people or less. Many of those 100 will be friends and family, others will be infrequent posters so out of 100 accounts, you are lucky if 20 are regular sources of good information.
Now, what if you increase the number of people you follow to 200? Or 2,000 (I’m currently following 2778)? Well then, the number of friends/family type accounts you’re following is unlikely to increase proportionally, so as long as you chose the people to follow wisely, you will vastly increase the amount of interesting news you will be receiving from Twitter.
Now, I often hear people say they have difficulty keeping up with the number of people they are following and asking me how I follow over 2,000. The simple answer is I don’t try to keep up with all the people I follow! I dip in and out of Twitter and if the people I follow happen to post, I will likely see the post. If they post when I am not looking at Twitter, I probably won’t see their post.
And that’s fine.
The major limiting factor in trying to follow more people on Twitter is obsessively attempting to catch every tweet. Let go. Learn to live in the now and more than likely if you do miss an important tweet, it will be re-tweeted anyway.
Of course, a flipside to this is that you shouldn’t follow people simply to increase the number of people you are following. Only follow people who will bring you useful/interesting information – otherwise you are reducing the signal-to-noise ratio and similarly if you realise that someone you followed is not bringing you any value, don’t hesitate to unfollow them.
So, how do you find interesting people to follow on Twitter? That’s a topic for another blog post – stay tuned!
I had a phone call recently with Patty Calkins. Patty is Vice President of Environmental Health & Safety for Xerox Corp. I knew Xerox had a good environmental record but until talking to Patty, I had no idea just how good!
To put this in context, let’s take a quick look at how long they have been thinking about their environmental impact, as a company –
Xerox invented double-sided copying in 1969
In the early 1970′s Xerox introduced the 1st post consumer recycled paper products
In early 1980′s Xerox introduced products which automatically powered down (before Energy Star program was conceived)
In the 1980′s Xerox started rolling out its supplier requirements program
In early 1990′s Xerox started focussing in on the end-of-life of products in the design phase – designing in end-of-life considerations for asset re-use.
In late 90′s Xerox established a waste-free platform to design waste-free products, to manufacture in waste-free facilities, to enable waste free customer sites.
Then Xerox initiated a cartridge return program so Xerox designed cartridges for remanufacturing
In the early 2000′s Xerox kicked off its carbon footprint reduction program – called Energy Challenge 2012. The initial goal was for Xerox to reduce its Carbon Footprint by 10%, over its 2002 base year, by 2012, in absolute terms. By engaging the workforce, Xerox managed to shoot right by that target and hit 18% reductions by 2006. Xerox then upped it’s CO2 reduction target to to 25% by 2012. As of 2010 blew past that goal achieving 30% reductions against its 2002 baseline. Now Xerox are in the process of re-baselining because of the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Systems in early 2010. Xerox will use its 2010 figures to establish a new baseline and will announce its next carbon reduction goal.
Given such a stellar record, I shouldn’t have been surprised at how seriously they take sustainability at Xerox, but I was. Why? The phone call with Patty was incredibly information dense but I’ll try to sum up some of Xerox sustainability highlights.
Most organisations have far more print capability than they need and the print devices they have have an average utilisation rate of around 1-2%. The rest of the time, they are still drawing power, requiing maintenance, etc. To help organisations with this issue…
When you hear the name Lockheed Martin – you don’t immediately think “Ah, now there’s a Green company” – they are after all, among the very largest defence contractors in the world. In 2008 70% of Lockheed Martin’s revenues came from military sales.
However, after a recent discussion with Dr David Constable, Lockheed Martin’s VP for Energy, Environment, Safety and Health, my impression of the company’s Green credentials has definitely gone up a couple of notches.
Lockheed Martin started their Go Green program in 2008 partially out of a desire to ‘do the right thing’ according to Dr Constable but also in response to increasing concern on their customer’s part to sustainability.
Similarly, the UK’s Ministry of Defence, and Royal Mail, two other large Lockheed Martin customers, both asked Lockheed Martin to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project. According to Dr Constable, in their first year of disclosure, Lockheed Martin were amongst the top performers in their sector and, he said, this next year they aim to improve on that.
With it’s Go Green initiative, Lockheed Martin set itself a goal of reducing its carbon footprint, water footprint and waste-to-landfill footprint by 25% in absolute terms…