Protect the Planet or Boost Your Profits? Smart Companies Are Doing Both.
There’s no shortage of innovative ideas for tackling climate change.
From using battery technology to store wind and solar electricity1, to feeding the world’s 1.5 billion cows a seaweed diet2, technologists and scientists alike are exploring every option. But how can today’s businesses make a difference while also making a profit? The two goals aren’t as far apart as they might seem. As organizations race toward their sustainability deadlines, they’re using innovative technologies to make their operations not only greener but also smarter, safer, and more efficient than ever.
Companies in the energy ecosystem are often on the front lines of this revolution. So how can they thrive while keeping their promises to the planet? By understanding their stakeholders’ shifting priorities; harnessing the power of new technologies; and tapping into a growing network of energy innovators.
Let’s take a closer look.
Understand how regulators—and regular customers—are prioritizing climate change.
Twenty years ago, ESG reports didn’t exist and “global warming” was a distant threat that businesses could choose to ignore. Those days are long gone. As our understanding of climate change has evolved, so has public pressure on organizations to adopt sustainable practices and be transparent about their progress—creating the need for new technologies to measure, manage, and report on environmental impacts.
Much of the pressure is market-driven. In the U.S., it has become common practice for large companies to disclose environmental actions and goals in their financial filings, as well as listing the business risks associated with accelerated climate change.3 The SEC has proposed new regulations that would require even more comprehensive climate change disclosures from all publicly traded companies, forcing brands to track and report on their carbon commitments. Though it’s unclear which specific regulations will pass, the toothpaste isn’t going back in the tube. Corporate boards, activist investors, and public sentiment are all aligned toward more transparency, not less.
Even for companies that aren’t traded on Wall Street, the math still works in favor of protecting the planet. Globally, 85% of consumers say they’ve already become “greener” in their purchasing habits—even if it comes at a higher price. In the U.S., 42% of consumers are willing to pay an average 37% premium for sustainable products and services.4 Companies that proactively pursue more planet-friendly operations will be well-positioned to lead in this lucrative new market. In fact, all this pressure to act on climate change may prove quite profitable. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that beyond benefitting the planet, climate-related innovations lead to increased efficiency, drive new technology, and lower risk—all of which stimulate investment and create healthier economies.5
Use technology to track your climate progress and unlock new value for your business.
With so much scrutiny around climate commitments, it’s critical to have tools and processes enabling insight into operational efficiency, electric and gas consumption, and how you’re performing against your ESG goals. This can be daunting, especially for traditional energy companies struggling with legacy IT platforms, systems that don’t talk to each other, and data that delivers hindsight instead of foresight.
Energy solutions giant, Mitsubishi Power, was looking to streamline their operations and gain better insight when they turned to Vectorform for help transforming their plant technology. Our solution, TOMONI Voice, is an expert blend of UX, UI, voice technologies, custom hardware, and mobile and backend development, that delivers much more than an effective way to manage your plant operations. It’s a blueprint for the intelligent energy company, utility, or manufacturing plant of the future. At its core, TOMONI Voice provides a single point of entry to data needed to manage and report on a plant’s performance—and it lets plant managers and operators access that data through simple voice or touch commands, paired with instant notifications that flag risks before they become reality. It’s akin to our DTE Insight app in some ways, but for the commercial industrial customer. Where Insight lets utility customers understand and manage real-time energy usage in their homes, the TOMONI Voice platform gives plant managers real-time insight across their entire operations. With a few words or a simple swipe on a customized, user-friendly dashboard, operators can see how specific equipment is performing; pull up maintenance materials and instructions; and gain predictive insights that increase power plant efficiency and profitability.
On an even broader scale, Vectorform created a holistic platform for Aramco, the world’s largest energy company, that provides unprecedented visibility into the carbon footprint of global oil supply chains. Aramco envisioned a user-friendly, web-based experience that makes technically challenging Well-to-Tank emissions data engaging and inviting. Our custom dashboard delivers all that and more. From crude oil extraction and shipping to refinement, disparate data sources are consolidated and visualized globally, identifying carbon intensities and surfacing insights through AI-powered analytics. Individual country operations can even see their CO2 emissions, creating environmental transparency and flagging primary sources of emissions for carbon management. It’s another example of how digital technology can help improve environmental performance and advance climate policies that recognize crude oil carbon intensity differentiation.
Don’t walk alone; tap into the energy ecosystem to reach your carbon goals.
If the examples above make you feel even further behind, don’t panic. We’re seeing a growing pattern of organizations coming to us saying that they’ve made carbon commitments to be net-zero by 20XX and the solution they first implemented isn’t working. As their climate promises are coming due, they’re turning to us as experts in the innovation and utility space to help them apply technology to gain insight into their energy consumption—and serve up those insights on clean, customized dashboards that their operators will actually want to use.
Smart external partnerships can also let you focus on running your core business while keeping your carbon commitments. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) keeps a list of locally-based U.S. power and utility green energy programs here; and DTE offers a turnkey solution for tracking, paying for, and marketing the success of your carbon reduction initiatives.
While new technology can help you efficiently manage your sustainability processes and progress, it’s important to balance innovation with a realistic assessment of your business goals. Engaging an ecosystem partner can be valuable as you research, experiment, operationalize, and scale your energy initiatives. With a partner like Vectorform, you can even have them run your innovation program alongside your in-house team. We’ve found that smart investments in an innovation strategy—coupled with a disciplined program and proven, disruptive technology—will help you realize value up to 5x faster than maintaining the status quo.
Take action today to gauge your readiness.
As the urgency around climate change intensifies, making a difference and making a profit can go hand in hand. The following questions can help guide your organization’s next step:
Do we have the people and processes in place to meet our carbon commitments?
Are we treating sustainability as a one-off initiative or embedding it into our daily operations and digital strategy?
Are we listening to the voice of the customer to guide our energy efforts?
Are we harnessing the power of AI to proactively track and manage our energy use?
What would our “dream dashboard” for energy data and management look like?
At Vectorform, we’re having conversations like this every day with clients and ecosystem partners. Together, we’re pushing the boundaries of digital innovation and connecting companies with data and tools that help them not only report on their carbon commitments, but also gain a profitable edge. We’d love to be part of your journey toward planet-friendly profits. Connect with us!