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What IBM’s Purchase of Envizi Means for Sustainability

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Todd Carney's picture
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Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

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There are a lot of news stories on the breakthroughs of software and utilities. Today technology can alert people quickly about utility issues, it can leverage drones to efficiently water crops, and it can efficiently send out everyone’s energy bills. These are all great achievements, but with energy shortages and threats to the environment, these innovations cannot be the end. In particular there is a demand for businesses to be more sustainable. Technological innovations can help corporations in improving their sustainability. IBM has endorsed this idea through its acquisition of Envizi, a company that utilizes data to evaluate how sustainable a company is through their practices.

 

What is Envizi?

In 2004, David Solsky and Bill Clasquin, two business leaders with extensive IT experience, founded Envizi. At the time the company centered around the innovation of capturing data from smart meters for electricity and efficiently providing electric bills. In 2008, the company then worked to create technology that helped companies comply with carbon regulation standards. In 2013 Envizi started developing a robust energy management platform.

From 2013, Envizi’s business model has been to offer its platform to corporations. Envizi’s software reviews utility bills, energy usage, and any issues in energy usage for the company. By keeping track of all of this information, Envizi can provide reports and solutions on how companies can be more energy efficient and sustainable. Envizi is out of Australia and has 180 clients. Before the acquisition, IBM, Microsoft, and Uber were all clients of Envizi.

 

IBM’s Acquisition

IBM and Envizi announced the acquisition on January 11. IBM’s purchase of Envizi is not just an opportunity for IBM to make more money nor just improve their own practices. IBM is hoping that it can leverage its vast capabilities in technology to compliment the success Envizi has had to create even more power programs to improve energy efficiency in corporations. IBM has expressed excitement of having a company so experienced in analyzing energy data as part of their team. IBM has pushed similar initiatives in other industries, such as health care.

On their company blog, Envizi stated that they believed the acquisition is not the end or beginning of anything, instead it is a way for Envizi to move forward in their mission of providing great energy efficiency and environmental accountability. Envizi noted that they saw a solid partner in IBM because IBM has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 and due to IBM’s robust software capabilities.

Some believe that IBM’s purchase of Envizi shows that corporations are going to have to be more sustainable due to pressures from the public, the media, the government, and their own finances. IBM is far from the only major corporation to look at ways to improve its sustainability.

With this pressure on all corporation, IBM and Envizi could emerge as major economic winners if they can develop technology that corporations will need to respond to the need for more sustainability. Additionally, what IBM and Envizi plan to do through the use of real time data analysis and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is largely unprecedented in any industry because the technological capabilities are only emerging now. If IBM and Envizi succeed here, they could capitalize in the broader world of AI, beyond energy.

 

Other Technological Developments

Given the promise of innovation in sustainability, IBM and Envizi are far from the only companies looking to leverage software in energy efficiency. A company out of Britain, known as OnGen, is seeking to use predictive technology to advise capital investment funds on what “green” technology to invest in. This can help investors get a better return, but also potentially help ensure that investment dollars are going to programs that will actually help in making the world more sustainable.

In Pittsburgh, there is a new company, NextLVL Energy, which is using new technological innovations to determine where leaks are in oil and gas lines, and plug them up. If oil and gas companies could fix all of these leaks, it could go a long way in reducing their carbon foot print.

As the world deals with many challenges, some of which are caused by technological advancements, many new types of software in the energy sector offer promise for a more sustainable world.

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