By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
Energy management software company Carbonetworks changed its name to ENXSuite and installed former Oracle VP Beatriz Infante as CEO. Here's what she had to say about the future of corporate sustainability.
On Thursday, San Francisco, Calif.-based energy performance management company Carbonetworks announced that it will change its name to ENXSuite and install former Oracle senior vice president Beatriz Infante as CEO.
The new name is intended to demonstrate the company's focus on the big picture -- its unified analysis of how energy, greenhouse gases, carbon, water, waste and other sources are managed by corporations.
Founded by Michael Meehan, who will become CTO, the company specializes in turning complex data into useful intelligence for corporate sustainability executives.
I spoke with Infante about her new role at ENXSuite and how she plans to use lessons learned from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to bring energy management to the masses.
SmartPlanet: So, new name, new role. A crazy time, it seems.
BI: I tend to view them as exciting times. I'm pretty thrilled to be here. I've been very fortunate of my entire career to be at the very beginnings of these huge industry waves that last until [the point of] long-term growth.
Energy management is one of the last great uncharted areas needing help.
Michael Meehan has really been thinking about the deep set of issues [affecting corporate sustainability iniatives]....he offers a tremendously powerful software that I think is unique.
I'm really pleased to be here and help the company scale.
SP: You infotech folks keep popping up on the cleantech side.
BI: (Laughs) If you think back to how Larry [Ellison] grew his company and his exec team, Oracle has been amazingly successful [at spinning off talent], unlike a company like HP and IBM, which only lost an executive here and there. Larry grows people through a culture where it's really about: is there a big market? Is it a gross market? Is it a market where you can have multiple companies?
It's not a surprise that all of us [infotech veterans] have gravitated toward cleantech. It's really applying some of these things that have been proven in other areas.
Think of us as a Hyperion of energy with an element of community. We aggregate information, lots of it at a very detailed level, across lots of facilities.
We manage the energy and carbon and greenhouse gases of facilities at a level of detail that they've never been managed at before.
In the past with energy management, a facilities manager goes to an energy consultant. They analyze and write a report, adding enough to justify taking several million dollars, and only recommend to put in fluorescent lighting and maybe change out the boiler. They come back a couple years later, and energy consumption has gone up anyway.
We manage the metrics of how much you're spending on server virtualization, what's your water and waste consumption, what are you spending versus business travel. Once you've got that amount of data, you can mine it for information, you can do a 'What if' analysis.
We have a network of people who provide energy reduction solutions. What if I put in a new refrigeration system in my warehouses, versus put in servers for more virtualization? What would be my return of investment, over a year? You can help them out spending the tens of millions of dollars they have for this.
We can aggregate benchmark information now for all other consumer packaged goods companies, for example. Here is where you rank.
We're providing much more value than a spreadsheet.
SP: How do you make your sales pitch to companies who have only used Microsoft Excel?
Actually, they're coming to us. In most cases, the customer comes to us and says, "Help!"
Typically, there's some top-level mandate that there's a sustainability strategy, but they have no corporate dashboard and 1,700 spreadsheets. And companies try -- they try to create charts and pivot tables, but it's physically impossible.
Our pitch depends on the level of executive:
Is it the person doing the spreadsheets? (Do you want to stay in Excel hell forever?)
Is it the CSO? (Do you realize your data is completely inaccurate?)
The executive understands that he has no control.
Is it the CIO? (Don't you want to control this like you control other processes?)
The very simple message is: oh my gosh, I need to provide an enterprise-wide view, but I can't, because I don't have such a view.
We're often introduced in a situation because the customer must do some kind of reporting or compliance that's automated, and then we rapidly expand into the account.
SP: So why the name change? I find Carbonetworks a little easier to remember.
BI: As we've expanded into the U.S. from Canada, we really got pulled into much broader space than just carbon. It's really about energy, networks, energy networks and being able to manage a network of providers. Slicing and dicing in multiple dimensions across your data cube.
SP: And scale? How do you manage your own growth?
BI: I've run billion-dollar businesses before, and I've run teeny tiny startups with two people before. Scale is about having the right people, a brilliant team who knows what they're doing. It's about developing revenue processes that's about driving revenue through the door and....at Oracle, one worked really really well: the contracting and revenue process.
Sometimes you have to grow really quickly, but we feel comfortable now.
SP: You've recently teamed up with the city of Chicago to help its quest of becoming the "greenest city in the world." Tell us about it.
BI: We're very excited. As [city officials] tried to build a spreadsheet to manage their energy projects (and targets and vendors), they rapidly realized it would require many more people to develop a three-dimensional spreadsheet.
We were hands-down the vendor that they selected. They have 60, 70, 80 different projects to manage, and they want to bring in [and involve] administration and community.
This networked approach to be able to have collaboration and visibility and data aggregation...to extract [select proprietary] data, that's not something you can do easily in a spreadsheet.
When you add that extra vector of community, the spreadsheet totally breaks apart.
We have a number of cities we're talking to right now. There's literally a half-dozen who are watching what Chicago is doing, and we've gotten a lot of inbound traffic.
It's a business, but it's also about helping communities.
SP: The interest in corporate sustainability has been swift and strong. What do you believe is driving it?
BI: There is no one factor. I was there at the early days at the Internet...it moved almost like lightning, almost overnight. It became a corporate decision, from an instrument of visualization to an instrument of actions and commerce.
When a market is at that flash point, you can't stop it. There are a lot of factors that are driving this, and one is definitely regulatory compliance. There's increasing pressure from shareholders and employees for green companies.
This maelstrom is very much like 1995. I'm excited. I'm pumped.
Jun 2, 2010