Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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New breed of software market leader has six traits

The environment, health & safety (EHS) software market is hot this year. Six deals announced in the first half of 2016 total $750 million to $1 billion. With all of this investment in the market, which companies will take the money and run—and become the new market leaders?

new-breed-software-market-leader

Creative Art/Freepik

Companies in most all industrial sectors must manage environment, health & safety (EHS) and sustainability information. Managing this information manually is not an option for most organizations, so a niche software market has evolved over the past 20-plus years. Today, the EHS software market accounts for billions of dollars in annual license and subscription revenue and implementation fees.

Big investment in EHS software companies fuels market changes

Investors and software industry analysts alike are paying attention to the EHS software market niche. These significant investments mean that “green”—environment and sustainability—is good for business.

Market leaders exhibit six traits

With all of this investment in the market, which companies will take the money and run, and become the new market leaders? Investment alone does not make a company a leader; money can enable success or it can get in the way. I submit that a new breed of market leader will emerge, and must exhibit six traits.

The new breed of EHS software market leader must exhibit six traits; vision, adaptability, innovation, a customer-centric view, knowledge base, and intellectual capital.

1. Vision. Formulating a vision requires questioning the status quo. Executing that vision requires leadership, a great team, business processes and technology. Communicating the vision internally and externally is critical to success.

2. Adaptability. Internal issues can quash the impact of new investment. Vendors that can quickly integrate and absorb the organizational change will have more success than vendors that cannot. Adapting to external issues like regulatory and market changes is equally important.

3. Innovation. Customers expect more of software today than ever before. Mobile and Cloud capabilities are the rule, not the exception. Usability is king. Vendors that offer innovative, but not bleeding edge, solutions can capture market share over competitors that use older technology platforms.

4. Customer-centric. Vendors that look outward towards market and customer needs—and innovate to meet these needs—will become the new leaders.

5. Knowledge base. Vendors must have a team that understand subject matter, IT, and business issues in the sectors they serve. Vendors that lack knowledge in some of these disciplines will fall short.

6. Intellectual capital. Hiring the “best and brightest” is not enough. Vendors need to invest in developing employee skills to execute the company vision.

Exciting times ahead

Companies in most all private and public sectors must manage EHS information, and the EHS software market accounts for billions of dollars in annual license and subscription revenue, plus implementation fees. Think of it as a sleeping market that recently awoke. It will be exciting to see how 2016 investment invigorates this niche market, and which vendors emerge as leaders by 2020.

This post first appeared on the Strategies for Software Lifecycle Management blog.

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3 ways to avoid costly software selection mismatches

Some organizations faced with enterprise software selection make emotional, rather than objective, decisions; select technology before understanding their needs; get caught up in vendor hype; or find a solution that does not match their ability to adopt it. Here are three ways that software selection pros make the selection process easier.

Recently, I joined a tech product review forum. This is a volunteer assignment where the sponsors encourage objective reviews. The reviews help prospective customers to make informed buying decisions.

My first assignment was to review a robotic vacuum cleaner. I found the product easy to unpack and set up. I needed to watch the robot the first few times I used it, to ensure that the machine did not get snagged on something. After multiple random passes, it cleaned the ground floor of my home. This took about three hours and two battery charges to do what I could have done manually in 20 to 30 minutes with a regular vacuum cleaner. The robot did only a fair job of picking up typical debris.

In the end, I did not recommend this product.  This tool did not meet my basic needs—to clean quickly and effectively, with little effort. The robotic vacuum cleaner is an interesting technology, but not developed to where it can replace traditional vacuum cleaners. It is early in the product lifecycle, slightly costly for what it does, attractive to techies, though not ready for the majority of us to adopt.

If I had purchased this product, I would have been out a few hundred dollars at most. But what if I had purchased enterprise environment, health & safety (EHS) software? I could have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to have a mismatch. Here are three things the pros do to avoid costly software selection mismatches.

1. Start at the beginning

Don’t start looking at software until you know what you need. First understand your needs and priorities, and then seek out products that best match them. If you know your needs, you should focus on at most, two or three candidate software platforms that best meet your needs.

Do not review the universe of available software, because this only creates confusion. Back to vacuum cleaners for a moment… If you need to clean hard flooring and pile carpeting in a four-bedroom house with five family members, one cat and two dogs, then forget handheld vacuums and shop vacs. Instead, focus on the products and technology that meet your needs.

Since enterprise software initiatives can involve multiple phases over month or years, consider your most pressing needs, as well as mid-term and long term needs. Mid- and long-term needs—and project objectives—may call for software that is flexible, configurable, and scalable to accommodate new users, new business processes, and future mergers & acquisitions.

2. Separate the wheat from the chaff

Sometimes it’s hard to tell one software package from another, just by sitting through a couple of hours of demos. You may like each software platform better than the one before, or worse, may like them all, when, in reality, they differ greatly. And you may be subject to marketing hype like, “We are the leading provider of EHS software to Fortune 500 companies” or “We provide the lowest Total Cost of Ownership in the industry.”

To make your life easier, take a systems lifecycle approach and carry prioritized business needs from one project phase to another. This helps you to create an environment for apples-to-apples comparisons.

  • During the Analysis/Needs Assessment phase, make sure to clearly identify and prioritize requirements, considering key stakeholder input.
  • Use prioritized requirements (and, as appropriate, mid-term and long-term needs) as the basis for a Request for Information before the demos.
  • Ask each of the “short list” of 2-3 vendors to demo their software according to use cases that you provide, and evaluate how each of the vendor packages meets your needs.
  • Make sure to discuss and document your software and vendor evaluation and selection criteria before inviting vendors in for demos.

3. Understand IT maturity

  • Technology Enthusiasts love tech first and foremost and want to be on the cutting edge; they are the first to try a new product.
  • Visionaries love new products as well, but they also consider how those new products or technologies can be applied. They are the most price-insensitive part of the market.
  • Pragmatists are open to new products, but need evidence the products will work and be worth the trouble. They are much more price conscious.
  • Conservatives are much more hesitant to accept change; they are inherently suspicious of any new technology and often only adopt new products to keep up with others. They don’t highly value technology, and are not willing to pay a lot.
  • Skeptics are not just hesitant, but actively hostile towards technology.

When you select software, make sure that you understand your organization’s IT maturity. Is your company an innovator, salivating for the latest technology, and willing to work with software vendors to iron out the wrinkles in a beta product? Or does your company sit solidly in the market majority, willing to wait for software to be tested and proven before you purchase it?

Also consider where the software lies along a product lifecycle curve. Is it an early market product, lean and mean, gaining momentum, made by a vendor with lots of innovative capabilities? Or is it a more mature technology with plenty of breadth and depth, integration and reporting capabilities, in its fourth or later version, with more enhancements on the way?

Select enterprise software that’s a good fit for your organization and its needs. These are just three ways to make a better-informed and objective enterprise software selection. If you do not have all these capabilities within your organization, do not be afraid to ask your IT group or a trusted advisor to help.

This article originally appeared in the Strategies for Software Lifecycle Management blog.


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Internet of Things and other innovations help electric utilities to survive

Image courtesy of 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Most Americans take reliable electricity for granted. Electric utilities can no longer count on customers to use more and more power, as conservation efforts and alternative energy sources gain popularity.

To survive, utility companies must focus on efficiency and cost control. The Internet of Things and other innovative technologies will help them to improve and survive despite slow market growth.

Deloitte University Press just published an insightful report,  The power is on: how IoT technology is driving energy innovation.


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Energy sector looks to integrated EHS IT solutions to manage risk in a complex operational and regulatory enironment

We are in the midst of a 21st Century energy boom. It has created thousands of jobs and reduced the U.S. dependence on imported crude oil. New technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) create new opportunities as well as risks. In light of recent offshore and onshore incidents in the energy and chemical industries, regulatory agencies are in the midst of making new policies and rules. How do organizations keep up with this complex, dynamic business environment?

“Risk is an integral component of a safety culture. It must be the lens through which we view the interaction between technology and the human element.”
–Brian Salerno, BSEE Director

Most organizations use spreadsheets, email and documents to manage environment, health & safety (EH&S or EHS) data. Even those that use more robust information technology (IT) platforms admit that they do not use IT to its fullest.

To better collect, manage, and use EHS information, many energy companies are migrating to integrated EH&S software applications for the first time. Others are taking a hard look at replacing legacy systems with more robust IT platforms.

The latest IT Insight column, 21st Century Energy Boom and Greater Risk Awareness Drive EH&S Software Initiatives, describes the pressure that the energy industry faces in managing mountains of EHS data while also minimizing the risks associated with everyday business. The column describes lessons learned in the Gulf of Mexico and a new risk management approach that is taking hold. Read the full article here.


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Keeping with the space exploration theme of Enablon’s SPF Americas 2014, keynote panel moderator Anna M Clark summarized the interplay among various perspectives on sustainability.

Working together to rocket to success

Courtesy of Capt. John O Creighton, NASA (Retired)

Courtesy of Capt. John O Creighton, NASA (Retired)

In her 22 October 2014 article for GreenBiz, Sustainability consultant, freelance writer and author Clark noted that input from the regulated community and environment, health & safety subject matter experts adds is a much-needed dimension to the sustainability discussion.

Many companies embed corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities as part of everyday business. Yet in the U.S., we often see a line in the sand between environment, health & safety (EHS) and CSR or sustainability initiatives. The interesting part is that mountains of EHS data are available to help improve the Company bottom line, while making the company more sustainable. All we need to do is harness the data, analyze it, share it with the people who need it to make business decisions… easier said than done!

A good, solid EHS technology platform certainly can make it happen. Joe Jones of U.K. consultancy SustainIt says “finding a way to make this data usable allows corporates to really kick start their CSR momentum.”

However, most users still only exploit a fraction of the available functionality of EHS systems. Jill Gilbert, president of Lexicon Systems, explained in her presentation that the breakdown often occurs at a failure to anticipate and meet basic business requirements. “Companies can make emotional decisions. They see bells and whistles and forget what their needs are.”

Click here for the full article.


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Each year, the Dow Jones Index Committee and sustainability investment specialist RobecoSAM review thousands of companies and identify those to include in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). Companies in the DJSI are recognized as sustainability leaders by independent rating organizations, as well.

Launched in 1999, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index family tracks the stock performance of the world’s leading companies in terms of economic, environmental and social criteria.

The DJSI World 2014 Review Results

The DJSI Committee develops seven indices each year. The following summary is for the DJSI World, which represents the top 10% of the largest 2,500 companies in the S&P Global BMI based on long-term economic, environmental and social criteria.

Global Sustainability Leaders

The two figures below list the 2014 leaders in 23 Industry Groups. Sixteen companies have been part of DJSI World for all fifteen years—Baxter International, Bayer, Bayerische Motoren Werke, BT Group, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Diageo, Intel, Sainsbury, Novo Nordisk, RWE, SAP, Siemens, Storebrand and Unilever.

djsi-world-industry-leaders-2014-1

  djsi-world-industry-leaders-2014-2

Top 10 Additions to DJSI World (by Market Capitalization)

  1. Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  2. GlaxoSmithKline
  3. Amgen
  4. Toronto-Dominion Bank
  5. AbbVie
  6. Caterpillar
  7. Renkitt-Benckiser Group
  8. Lockheed-Martin Group
  9. Bank of New York Mellon Group
  10. Deutsche Post AG

Top 10 Deletions from DJSI World (by Market Capitalization)

  1. General Electric
  2. Bank of America
  3. Schlumberger
  4. BHP Billiton Ltd
  5. McDonald’s
  6. BHP Billiton PLC
  7. Telefonica
  8. Starbucks,
  9. NIKE Inc
  10. Colgate-Palmolive

Learn more about DJSI indices and see the 2014 Annual Review here.


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Taking out the trash, Houston style

The City of Houston, America’s fourth largest city, not known as a “green” city, is slowly adding traditional, curbside recycling to some neighborhoods. I see green recycling bins and black waste bins on the curb as I drive about.

One Bin for All (OBFA)?

Here’s a new wrinkle: the City’s waste department recently announced a proposal to commingle trash and recycled materials in a single waste bin. With OBFA, everything goes into the bin, with recyclables sorted out later. The City thought that OBFA would promote recycling. My take? This is the antithesis of recycling; it is like taking out the trash on any ordinary “trash day!” Now the City is rethinking its options.

Image: Rubbermaid

Image: Rubbermaid

… or Segregate Waste from Recyclables?

Our household has recycled for years, at our own expense. Our suburban subdivision sits within the City of Houston limits. The community association contracts trash hauling and recycling services to a private contractor, with partial reimbursement from the City of Houston. We pay about $3/month for recycling services, in addition to Community Association dues. It’s optional, and it’s worth it.

It is easy to toss paper, plastic and glass in the recycling bins–to segregate it from waste–and place the bins outside once a week. I wish the City required all citizens and businesses to recycle; it is amazing how little garbage we generate each week when we recycle! I hope that our subdivision moves to the larger, covered, wheeled recycling bins soon; with 55 inches of rain per year, it’s easier to manage recyclables in a covered bin than in the small, open totes.

The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has an outreach program and offers definitions, tips and apps for plastics recycling at RecycleYourPlastics.org.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.