Companies look to BI to reduce energy cost

Companies are looking to BI tools for help with rising energy costs, says Dan Esty, co-author of Green into Gold and the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University.

In this slumping economy, he said yesterday, he’s seen companies defer advertising campaigns and factories in favor of investment in BI.

“They’ve concluded that there is a very substantial return on energy efficiency,” he said, “and the way you find that is with BI tools.”

Energy savings in companies he’s worked with, he said, are no less than around 10 to 15 percent, and have reached 60 percent. IT departments usually yield some of the most improvement.

Collecting the data is for most companies a problem. Will Sarni, CEO of Domani, says that even as companies have done a good job of rolling up their financial data, they’ve done a poor job of collecting energy data.

“You’d be surprised to see how archaic it is for some companies,” he said yesterday. “In some ways we’re still moving out of the Stone Age.”

There’s a big scramble now for tools that can be used easily within an organization to collect and understand and to make rational decisions—and that are relatively painless to use.

What’s missing most, he says, is a way to monitor company-wide energy consumption in real time.

Energy expense is becoming important in smaller and smaller companies. It used to be that an annual expense of less than $1 million was considered unimportant. “Now it’s significant.”

It’s a story in progress for BI This Week.

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