Over the years, the term ‘Energy’ has undergone profound evolutions at varying levels and has emerged as a commodity. Efficient Energy Management is now a critical element in designing a comprehensive business strategy. It is one of the determining factors that influence the competitive advantage of an enterprise. Today, a company’s energy management strategy has a direct impact on its business’ reputation, customer prospects and investor relations.
In a bid to facilitate the transitions in the energy landscape, the market offers an overwhelming number of tools, customizable digital platforms, software systems and connected solutions. As per recent reports, the global market for Energy Management System, valued at USD 39.89 billion in 2018, is growing at a CAGR of 17.1% from 2019 to 2025, clearly indicating the upturn in the sector.
We are, therefore, traversing through an era that is experiencing an unprecedented degree of shifts in both ‘Energy’ and ‘Digital’ spheres. To make the best of this trajectory and to ensure optimal results, organisations today need a holistic approach to integrate their energy goals into their corporate culture. Aligning its vision, mission and purpose for Energy management, with its people’s expectations and credence, work as the stepping stone for a successful transitional journey.
In this article, we have tried to bring together five keys for creating that culture which enhances and aids the efficient energy transformations of an enterprise;
Combining the top-down approach with the bottom-up approach
While decision-making on energy goals and vision of an organisation requires more of C-suite involvement, building it into the culture needs an integrated approach. This integrated approach calls for both top-down and bottom-up strategies to work in tandem.
To bring in more clarity; a bottom-up approach is significant while designing energy programs for an identified site or a specific function. It is critical as it allows visibility to the distinct needs and challenges of a given section, and then taking it to larger platforms. However, in the absence of a top-down approach, successful regional implementations find it challenging to scale-up.
Similarly, a top-down approach is more focused on larger goals that include higher capital lay-outs and demands a C-suite level of involvement. Often in such cases, energy managers find it difficult with ground-level deployment, if not considered at a decision making level. It is mainly due to regional variations in terms of regulations and economies.
Hence, to build a culture that enhances the energy transition goals seamlessly, the integration of top-down and bottom-up approach plays a critical role.
Building a digital and a green culture
Energy Management is now primarily about digitization of Energy and making it into ‘Smart Energy’. It is about collating and working on data generated through sensors, connected meters, and by leveraging the overall digital ecosystem. Going by predictions, connected devices will reach almost 75 billion globally by 2025. As per Gartner, data and analytics are the strategic priorities that can accelerate an organization’s digitization and transformation efforts.
Therefore, for a successful energy transition, enterprises need to build a digital culture first. And a digital culture requires compelling skilling and re-skilling programs as a first step.
While the deployment of new systems, platforms, tools and strategies are critical, its progress relies on how well it is ingrained in the culture. Employees need empowerment with tools and platforms that can enhance their productivity and efficiency. Digital culture is about letting your people experience the change that technologies can bring into their everyday work.
Finally, it is about creating an environment that propagates innovation and collaboration.
Collaboration makes Energy visible
Accenture had recently surveyed with more than 1500 C-level executives from 14 different industries, across 11 countries. The research aimed at understanding where these companies stand when it comes to functional silos and collaboration. The findings of the study were quite an eye-opener as 75% of the participants said their business functions are in constant competition with each other and lacks collaboration. These include sales, marketing, engineering, production, operations and even R&D.
Overcoming silos to build a collaborative culture is another fundamental element for efficient Energy management, another way to get more visibility. It requires a mindset shift to realise that sharing of learnings and experience within functions is paramount to a productive and effective energy culture. It not only enhances innovation but also mitigates risk. And innovation is intrinsic to business growth and operational efficiency.
Innovation is vital to the progress of any business. Organizations today are built on their capabilities of being able to innovate. With rapid digitization and technical advancements, enterprises are creating groundbreaking customer experiences, operating models, and work environments.
However, several roadblocks pose as hindrances in imbuing innovation into a culture. These include; the right skilling-reskilling, sharing of a common goal, risk preparedness, cyber threats and finally, limited investments and budgets.
Although an article by Harvard Business Review (HBR) shares a positive perspective on these challenges. The report was published post reviewing 145 empirical studies on how constraints impact creativity and innovation. The findings highlighted that individuals, teams, and enterprises indeed benefit from a healthy dose of challenges. It is only when these constraints become too high that they subdue creativity and impact innovation.
Here, impactful leadership plays a vital role in enabling innovation by designing collaborative programs, and by promoting meritocracy of ideas in a concerted way. These ideas eventually drive future breakthroughs. It’s the confluence of a collaborative model that holds the key to significant transitions.
At the outset, Energy Management and Energy transition initiatives may seem to require large capital investments. However, according to a DuPont study, small-scale but continuous energy improvement projects can realise more than 40% of the total energy efficiency of an organisation.
Both Energy Management and a cultural shift are mainly behavioural components that require consistent communication from leadership. Strategic energy management is a by-product of a balanced combination of training and technical support. It is also about by peer networks encouraging owners and operators to learn from various facilities while adopting systematic improvement techniques in energy management.
Developing an Energy Culture within an organisation requires a broader view that amalgamates several critical aspects to boost the overall performance of a company. Such as visibility of energy consumption, sense of ownership and accountability, collaboration, transparency and finally agility, flexibility to adoption. Creating a corporate culture aligned to the business strategy is the base for achieving any organisational goal.
Culture changes are not swift. It can take years before the new behaviours become embedded into the organisation. Companies need to have a broader approach to analysing, measuring and monitoring their culture to shape and manage it effectively in the long run.