Why Your Business Must Do A 2017 Smart Clean Tech Audit
By Bill Roth
A new wave of smart/clean technology is gaining commercial scale. This mega trend is being driven by massive leaps in performance plus lower cost. Impacted technologies include solar, batteries, LEDs, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and prediction/big data software. Smart/clean tech is about to disruptively reengineer our vehicles, buildings, work practices and your business.
Lowing electric bills was the traditional business focus for investing in clean/smart tech. This new tech wave will accelerate this business case. But it is also creating a new and larger value proposition. Smart/clean tech will enhance your ability to win customers and increase work associate productivity.
To remain competitive your business must do a 2017 smart/clean tech audit.
The business case for smart/clean tech
Smart/clean tech is the merger of renewable energy, batteries, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive software.
This is not a futuristic vision. The dawn of smart/clean tech has arrived. LED lighting is a prime example.
Maybe your business has investigated or even installed LED lighting to save money. This new tech wave has expanded LEDs’ business case beyond cost savings. Its expanded value proposition is based on engaging customers and increasing work associate productivity.
Here’s how. LED (Light Emitting Diode) is a computer based technology that can be powered through computer ethernet cable rather than electrical wire. With ethernet connectivity you get lighting plus a building wide communication system! (LED lights are also now available with WiFi incorporated into their design that enables a building wide communication network called a “mesh.”)
Forward thinking companies are exploring how to use LED’s communication potential to win customers. For example, imagine using a LED system connected to sensors (that can also be built into LEDs) to track how customers move about your store. Using Big Data software tools, a retailer or restaurant can map how customers and work associates engage. Customer “hot spots” that attract higher customer interest can be identified. This shifts the LED value proposition from electric bill cost reductions to increasing sales and customer satisfaction.
Now consider what this type of system could mean for work associate productivity? Advances in artificial intelligence have put us at the dawn of autonomous building operations that deliver zero net energy buildings. Seamlessly, a smart/clean tech building will learn what building occupants need, on an individual basis.
The early adopter path for autonomous smart buildings is through electric bill cost savings. Autonomous, smart buildings will optimize the use of onsite solar energy, onsite batteries, smart controls and electric utility service to minimize cost, maintain targeted power quality and reduce emissions. Numerous states are now implementing building code revisions to facilitate the adoption of zero net energy building technologies.These state codes will spark manufacturing economies of scale that will drive down the cost for autonomous, smart building technologies across the U.S. This will open the door to expanding the technology’s applications to optimizing building occupant productivity and experience.
Five key steps for doing a smart/clean tech audit
The obvious question is how should a business begin to engage with smart/clean tech? Here are five audit areas for building continuous organizational learning that will position your business for this opportunity:
- Create a cross-functional audit team. Assigning this technology challenge to facilities management misses the point. The building (and vehicle) is the technology installation location. The impacts are on customers and work associates. Create a cross-functional audit team that will continuously audit/assess how smart/clean tech will impact customers, work associates, suppliers and work processes.
- Find low hanging fruit. The earlier you experience clean/smart tech the faster your business will realize competitive advantage. Audit for low hanging fruit that can allow your company to engage with smart/clean tech and smart/clean tech suppliers. LED lighting is usually a great path for initial engagement. It delivers attractive returns on investment from electric bill savings. It also creates a path for your marketing, sales and operations teams to experiment with with how to use smart/clean tech to win customers, grow product sales and increase productivity.
- Audit for solar and batteries. In too many states your local electric utility makes it difficult to install onsite solar and batteries. They use rules and complex rate designs to protect their sales. These utility complexities create ancillary costs that can be as much as double the actual cost of a solar system. But both solar and batteries are on a global cost decline curve. Combined solar plus battery systems are on a cost decline path that will overcome the ability of local utilities to stop their adoption. Audit now in anticipation of being ready when this lower cost future is realized within your electric utility’s service area.
- Smart building controls. This technology is exploding. There are technology applications now available that can deliver near term financial results. Continuously audit this technology. It will only grow in capability while dropping in cost.
- Audit your HR plan. Smart tech will have a dramatic impact on human resources. Manual labor will be greatly devalued. Jobs will be lost. But jobs will also be created around building business value in an autonomous and smart world. Every business needs a HR plan for managing this global mega trend.
Bill Roth, Founder of Earth 2017
I founded Earth 2017 to capture case studies and video interviews on how business and community leaders are achieving sustainable results. The Earth 2017 website, and the YouTube channel Earth 2017 TV, are free resource that hosts hundreds of business case studies and video interviews.