In Part 1 and Part 2 of this article, we showed how this small professional services company has pursued a sustainability-based strategy to improve resources efficiency in its own operations, and engage its employees and the local business community in its efforts to promote a more sustainable economy. In this final installment, we will show that even small companies can find ways to profit from the world’s increasing sustainability challenges.
Companies of all sizes are developing new products and services designed to address the world’s sustainability challenges and generate new revenue opportunities. TNB is a company that has leveraged changes in technology to drive innovation in its business. The firm has gone from being a hardware company to a professional managed services firm. Some hardware and software management tasks are conducted on-site, others via remote capabilities, all dependent on what the customer desires.
In addition, TNB Founder and CEO Susan Labandibar noted: “Attempts to address climate change have not been effective; we need to evolve our thinking and our approach to action. Businesses in general, and small businesses in particular, are key actors in evolving better awareness and perspective in our communities. Small business, being rooted in a place, and therefore being connected to and a part of a community, can play a key role in improving the quality of awareness of how our approach to commerce impacts the Earth’s life support systems. The problem has been cast as ‘business interests vs. environmental interests.’ However, there are many business leaders who share the values of ‘business for the environment’ and are ready to be leaders for a new economy.
“Business leaders have the potential to not just act locally, but also to influence policy and action at all levels of government. But business leaders are generally too busy running their business to focus much attention on such matters.
“Small businesses don’t realize that they are leaders and that they can be catalysts of change; TNB will help them come to the realization that they are an important part of the solution, and then help direct them into action! Nurturing that process we can be most effective: we are THE organization for local businesses looking to counteract climate change.”
The Internet, high-speed broadband, blade servers, software applications, project management, data encryption and other computing technologies have enabled TNB to increase its professional service offerings. These technologies have also enabled resource sharing, an especially attractive option for businesses that need technology, but are not able to rationalize an IT staff to monitor, manage and maintain the equipment and applications.
The evolution of computing technology has enabled TNB to expand its offers, but more importantly, support its small and mid-sized customers’ technology needs in an optimized manner. No longer does every business need to have its own servers or tiered backup and storage. Through resource sharing, less equipment and energy is used to support a large number of businesses.
Technology hiccups happen. Someone loads an application that is not compatible with a core business application and data gets lost or corrupted. Or worse, a virus or malware gets introduced into the company’s local area network and a technology nightmare ensues. These types of issues can easily bring a small business to its knees, negatively impacting customers, employees, and the flow of business itself.
When small and mid-sized businesses use a managed services firm such as TNB, these types of issues and many others get handed over to the service provider. A business using managed services can focus its efforts and resources on its core competences, not worrying about technology issues. Remotely managed technology can readily be returned to the last backed up state. For those customers interested in developing their own sustainability initiatives, TNB offers help and assistance in helping them “green” their IT operations in a variety of ways.
Natural and manmade disasters happen. These could readily affect business resiliency and continuity. Remote managed services help mitigate the risks associated with these types of disasters. It is because of technology innovations and firms like TNB, that small and mid-sized companies are able to enjoy levels of business resiliency and continuity comparable to those at large enterprises.
Labandibar and her team at TNB have been extremely successful in using the company’s expertise and services to develop innovative solutions that drive energy efficiency, reduced water consumption, improved human resource utilization, and improve the overall planet. Leveraging innovative business opportunities like remote technology management, and spawning new environmentally-centric companies are among the ways in which this professional services company has used sustainability-based strategies to remain competitive and prosperous after 20 years in business.
Image credit: Flickr/2a1_wies_van_erp
Sustainability4SMEs: Graham Russell & Martha Young
Graham Russell brings 25 years of CEO experience in the environmental services industry to his current role as a sustainability professional. He currently teaches sustainable business in the University of Colorado, Denver MBA program and chair’s the School’s Managing for Sustainability Advisory Council. He provides sustainability and cleantech consulting services to SMEs through TrupointAdvisors and is on the board of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.
Martha Young has been an industry analyst and writer for 20 years. Her expertise is in small and mid-sized businesses, information technology and energy. Young co-authored four books on virtual business processes (cloud computing), and project management for IT. She is on the board of two small Texas-based businesses, and acts in a technical advisory and business strategy capacity for an east coast venture capitalist.