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Recently, IBM was cited as a leader in energy management software by independent analyst firm Verdantix, which specializes in tracking the energy solution industry—and that's something business and IT leaders should be aware of.
Why? The list of reasons for organizations to move ahead with energy management strategies is long, and getting longer:
Achieving forward momentum with energy management of this type, however, is often easier said than done. Most organizations lack the visibility and quantification needed to understand how, when, and why energy consumption is changing.
But rather than gradually reducing their energy consumption trends and carbon footprints over time, they often cannot establish what those trends or footprints are—and this situation gets more complex the larger and more distributed the organization is. If an organization spans multiple buildings, or multiple campuses of buildings, pursuing green energy management across all of them and their associated domains—such as IT, facilities, standard office usage—is a complex matter.
All of which explains why IBM acquired energy management leader TRIRIGA in 2011. TRIRIGA, a major provider of facility and real estate management software solutions, delivers just those capabilities and many more—and is also a natural fit with IBM's larger enterprise asset management strategy and IBM Maximo asset management solutions.
A recent Verdantix study establishes IBM's leadership in energy management solutions
All of these factors also explain Verdantix's recent analysis of the energy management software market, which included detailed comparisons of 14 enterprise energy management providers and their portfolios.
"It's not enough today merely to track and optimize energy utilization in a domain-specific fashion. Instead, organizations must find a way to accomplish these goals holistically, across all domains and assets, by centralizing analysis and reporting and thus encompassing the complete problem with a complete solution."
Verdantix's goal: empower potential solution buyers with the key information they need to save time and money, reduce risk by selecting the best solution for their requirements, and ultimately generate an improved business outcome through energy use optimization and conservation.
Beyond analysis of the solutions themselves, Verdantix also interviewed an independent customer panel of 15 current or potential users of enterprise energy management software to assess their needs and establish a baseline other enterprise-class organizations might find helpful in making purchasing decisions.
Subsequently, the solutions were evaluated—involving a live demonstration of all 14 solution providers, as well as comprehensive product and company data provided by the providers.
The results? In the green (leaders) quadrant—that is, those providers distinguished as excellent in both capabilities and industry momentum—IBM stood out as one of the top three, and was an outright winner in several performance categories as well.
A broad array of solution capabilities delivers the visibility and control you need to manage energy across all business domains, buildings, and campuses
Proven integration with meters and controls across multiple energy domains
Historically, energy management has been implemented in a piecemeal manner—one set of tools for each domain, and integration across those domains has been either loose or, in some cases, nonexistent.
But it's not enough today merely to track and optimize energy utilization in a domain-specific fashion. Instead, organizations must find a way to accomplish these goals holistically, across all domains and assets, by centralizing analysis and reporting and thus encompassing the complete problem with a complete solution. For instance, IT energy usage should be tracked and reported on by the same solution used to address facilities and offices.
Verdantix singled out IBM for excellence in just this area, justifying its high score by virtue of the way the IBM TRIRIGA solution spans both commercial and retail buildings via integration with control sensors used for managing HVAC assets and building management systems (BMS)—key sources of raw data.
Robust energy monitoring and targeting
How much energy is being consumed, when, where, and under what circumstances?
That's essential information needed for any energy management strategy to work, and getting it requires energy monitoring and targeting capabilities. Then, given ongoing quantification of the basic energy efficiency of different assets (such as buildings), it becomes much more straightforward to identify areas of necessary improvement and create strategies designed to drive that improvement.
Here, too, Verdantix acknowledged IBM's leadership, characterizing IBM's target setting and tracking and energy efficiency identification all as best-in-class.
Advanced energy project and portfolio management tools
Part of optimized energy management lies in understanding how energy consumption is changing at multiple levels of abstraction and granularity. For example, beyond knowing that X building is more energy-efficient than Y building, it's also important to know how different construction costs, such as the energy cost of construction equipment, might lead to different eventual energy efficiency outcomes.
Verdantix cited IBM as the standout winner in this category, besting all other competitors. This is because the IBM TRIRIGA solution provides exactly that kind of granular information, thanks to its ability to draw key equipment information from US construction data provider RSMeans. Even model and asset-specific equipment data is available—helping to make overall energy efficiency and portfolio management that much more accurate for TRIRIGA users.
Energy and industry domain credentials and an established enterprise-scale customer base
When choosing among energy management solutions, one way to start is by looking at the solutions that are most proven—the ones that have the largest number of deployments, and whose track record has therefore been best established. The effect is to reduce the potential risk of unsound investment.
In this category, Verdantix acknowledged the 2011 acquisition of TRIRIGA as a key strength for IBM. By doing so, IBM inherited more than 200 TRIRIGA customers as a result—a list that includes familiar names like the City of New York and the US Air Force (a particularly large deployment that covers over 600 million square feet of real estate and the activity of some 30,000 users).
Strong momentum through a partner ecosystem
Because the goal today for many organizations is holistic energy management—spanning many different assets, buildings, and even campuses—integration with business partners is essential.
No single solution provider can directly provide all the necessary information to drive optimized strategies; instead, all must ultimately draw information from a wide variety of assets manufactured by other parties.
IBM's commitment to positive change in energy management through strategic alliances is particularly evident. For instance, in 2009 IBM helped implement the Green Sigma coalition, which includes other industry players such as ABB, Cisco, Eaton, ESS, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, SAP, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. This coalition has, in turn, made cross-solution, cross-asset interoperability a reality—and energy management simpler and easier to achieve no matter which solution you choose.
Compelling market vision
Like many other fields, energy management is in a state of flux—and that means solution portfolios must be supported and driven by a vision that addresses organizational needs not just today, but in the years to come as well.
Verdantix's analysis found that IBM's own vision for energy management was among the top two of all providers—one in which, going forward, centralized data aggregation and smart analytics tools can in turn yield a superior business outcome by detecting hidden trends and patterns and suggesting smart business strategies to match.
Comprehensive sustainability strategy
If you're looking for compelling evidence that a company stands behind and believes in the value of its energy management solutions, you could do worse than ask yourself if that company uses them every day—in many ways.
IBM does—and that fact was noted by Verdantix. IBM TRIRIGA solutions aren't merely something IBM sells, but something IBM uses in its own dazzlingly large real estate portfolio, spanning thousands of buildings in dozens of campuses in many countries around the world.
This, in turn, means that IBM has an unusual opportunity to optimize energy efficiency—not just for its own benefit, but the benefit of the globe as a whole. And IBM is using IBM TRIRIGA tools to do just that, driving down its energy consumption and carbon footprint on a mass scale while still continuing to meet or exceed service performance targets.
Superior organizational and financial resources
Investment in energy management solutions is only as justified as the continuing health of those solutions' providers and the continuing product support they deliver. Verdantix cited IBM's $100+ billion annual income as an attractive sign of IBM's ongoing business resilience—also exemplified by IBM's century in business and stable history of profitability going back many business quarters.
And because IBM has extensive resources, it also has the opportunity to make strategic investments in solution augmentation, new solution development, and future acquisitions similar to the TRIRIGA acquisition.
All of these factors should help IBM not just articulate its market vision, but realize that vision via an increasingly powerful, integrated energy management solution portfolio in the years to come.
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