(Note: this is the first post in a series of articles on developing, validating, and implementing a sustainability growth strategy for current (and future) market conditions. Overview of the blog post is here. The target audience is CXOs in technology companies and global Engineering Procurement & Construction (EPC) firms who are chartered to lead efforts to grow new revenue streams in this general market sector, as well as those executives in global enterprises who are considering implementation of such strategies.
In the fall of last year, I wrote about the need for sustainability programs in the industrial sector, given the current economic climate (link). Since that time, we have seen market conditions deteriorate, but conversely, have also seen companies (both services and technology) who are starting to hire again to provide sustainability solutions to their clients. The purpose of this column is to provide some guidance on the state of the sustainability strategy market need; particularly in regard to enterprise systems. Notes from leaders from both the “sell” and “buy” sides of the equation provide additional data points on current trends.
I was in the UK at a CIO workshop last week (post coming up), and missed a lot of the on -going maneuvering on the part of both political parties here in the US. It made me think about sustainability market drivers (again; yes, I need a life…), and whether we have turned the corner from sustainability as a ‘vitamin’ (nice to have), or an ‘aspirin’ (critical need).
Right now, I would guess that most people (consumers) and many corporations are focusing on very tactical and survival -based activities, such as cost control and risk / exposure management. Where sustainability programs are already established, there is probably little impact from the financial crisis, in terms of potential termination, cancellation, etc.
But where sustainability initiatives are being considered or reviewed, I would venture that many will be put on hold for the time being, as corporations sort through on – going programs and rank and prioritize those that are truly ‘mission critical’ for short term goals.
But there may be a silver lining.
Recent conversations with sustainablity execs, including those in the product – centric industries (CPG, discrete mfg) and in technology firms, have centered around adoption of internal sustainability programs (that is: executive sponsorship and enactment of internal initiatives to create a sustainable organization and business model).
A central issue comes up: how to convince executives that sustainability programs are critical to the welfare, brand, and growth of their company?
As in any nascent market or as part of a new management trend, there are always ‘thought leader’ executives that ‘get it’ quickly; in this case: they understand the sustainability value proposition for their company, and more importantly, may articulate the specific programs and initiatives that need to be executed to acheive success.
But many execs are viewing sustainablity with a jaundiced eye; it may appear to be ‘one more corporate exercise’ as one exec told me. And many view sustainability as an additional layer of compliance (more on this in a future post).
This is not to denigrate or judge those executives who don’t get it; the incentives for most of these people are ones that you would expect:
- Increase profitability
- Find and develop new product and services lines, or expand to new markets
- Attract and retain the best talent
- And, keep the company out of trouble (i.e. regulatory compliance, product liability mgt, maintain positive press and brand image, etc)
So what may drive sustainability adoption broadly throughout various sectors, beyond that of the ‘thought leaders’?
Over the course of the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to work with or share market strategies with executives at social networking companies such as LinkedIn, Spoke Software, Visible Path, and BranchIT. Of particular interest to me was the ability to develop and leverage what I referred to as “Relationship Capital Management”; the opportunity to develop, foster, and share relationships within an organization (or ecosystem) for the purposes of optimizing knowledge management and revenue generation. (I posted some columns on this trend a couple of years ago on “Relationships as Assets” and Relationship Capital Management and CRM).
In a previous post (link), I covered how BIM (Building Information Modeling) was changing the Architectural, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry, and also provided insights on the market drivers that green technology vendors in this space should be aware of, to leverage BIM for growth. In this column I will cover some insights on growth strategies for the federal buildings sector, as well as general growth strategy insights from key thought leaders in the market.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) is not just the adoption of new technology, but also incorporates new collaborative workflow. There is more emphasis on collaborative design and planning in the beginning phases of a project, so that costs and risks in later stages like construction and operations (where most of the costs are incurred) may be managed and contained. Green tech vendors should be involved in these early planning stages, so that a realistic assessment of cost savings and improved environmental performance are identified. Also, they can add value to the optimization process (conducting ‚Äòwhat if’ scenarios), which may lead to additional savings and benefits that may not have been readily apparent.
The terms ‚Äòcleantech’ or ‚Äògreen technologies’ have been applied to a wide array of processes, technologies, and services. Within this overall market space, there exist a number of specific target market segments such as transportation, energy development, and manufacturing, as examples. The buildings & facilities segment is a large target market segment for green technologies, given the size and projected growth around the world and opportunity to leverage a disruptive new technology & collaborative process called “Building Information Modeling”, or BIM.
The building & facility industry is undergoing radical change today, as owners are demanding more project visibility, improved risk management (scheduling & costs); and increased use of technologies that will allow for less waste, more efficient energy consumption, and ultimately lower costs over the lifecycle of the facility (from design and construction to operations).
What is Building Information Modeling (“BIM”)