This is the 1st in a 4-part series...
Not long ago, the fields of information technology and facilities management were about as similar as apples and oranges. On one hand, facilities professionals worked with heavy industrial equipment like HVAC systems, generators and lighting systems, and part of that job included keeping close tabs on the utility bills. IT people, on the other hand, had laptops, software upgrades and networking gear to manage. But all of that is changing. A variety of forces are pushing these two worlds together, as technology enables relatively simple machines to become ever-more intelligent, inter-connected, and energy efficient. As this new alliance develops, professionals in both fields are making themselves more valuable than ever to the companies they serve.
What’s driving the convergence of IT, facilities and energy management? We think there are three overlapping trends in play.
- Companies are putting their weight behind sustainability initiatives. A decade ago, most companies paid little more than lip service to the notion of sustainable business practices. But today, industries are under intense pressure from eco-conscious customers and regulatory agencies to reduce, reuse and recycle. More than reactive compliance, however, many businesses have learned that there’s a strong business case – in terms of cost savings – for reducing their environmental footprint. As a result, they are proactively looking for ways to use energy more efficiently. And it just so happens, the technology developments of recent years present the perfect opportunity.
- Digital transformation is here. Information technology is no longer limited to what we think of as “computers.” IT is everywhere, as the growth of high-speed data transfer, wireless mobility, cloud computing and “big data” analytics combines to create a worldwide fabric of connectivity.
We are entering the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), a global nervous system connecting and gathering intelligence from billions of everyday objects. In this new reality, the “old school” equipment like generators that are found in commercial facilities can do more than just consume or generate power – now they can issue reports about their health, readiness and automatically adjust for optimal performance by responding to remote commands over the network, and even “converse” with other machines to keep the whole system working in harmony.
- IT is more strategic than ever. Digital transformation and the Internet of Things (IoT) introduce an expanding set of responsibilities to IT professionals. Once thought of as the company’s technology custodian – the one to call when something breaks – the IT department will be increasingly looked upon to deliver proactive, technology-driven business initiatives. Nearly every part of the organization, from marketing to finance to HR, will be working to digitize their operations, and they will need IT to show them how. The same goes for facilities and energy managers, who will rely on IT to help them take advantage of everything IoT has to offer.
Putting it all together, today’s heightened focus on sustainability, the power of IoT to create an intelligent energy network, and IT’s evolving role as a strategic business partner will transform the way companies manage their facilities. If facilities managers and IT folks aren’t yet on a first-name basis, they soon will be. And the benefits of their partnership will appear in the company’s bottom line.
Ready to learn more? Download our Ebook on how Energy IoT is quickly becoming the “Next Big Thing” in IT.