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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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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Five global predictions for 2015

Today was all about tomorrow. Let me explain… this morning, I attended a Webinar on 2015 trends in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market; this afternoon I completed a survey on the top global trends for 2015. Here’s my take on five global trends for 2015. The common thread is information technology (IT) and the environment.


It’s all about the Cloud

Businesses continue to move to the Cloud in droves, with a large percentage already there. A big benefit of the Cloud is the shift away from internal management of IT infrastructure, placing part of the risk onto Cloud providers. Another benefit is the ability to shift from older, “on premises” enterprise software license models that require constant upgrades to newer, Software as a Service (SaaS) apps where all user organizations are on the same version of the software. And a third benefit is anytime, anywhere access to information that allow more informed decision-making.

It’s not just mobile technology, but mobile technology enabled by the Cloud, that will allow businesses to break from old paradigms and utilize Internet-enabled solutions. My article on the Cloud will publish on 01 February 2015.

Information security remains a top concern

Information security will remain a top concern among organizations into 2015 and beyond. ApplePay went live this quarter, and it was supposed to be an alternate cashless payment method, but not a Point of Service (POS) app. With the release of the iPhone 6 and the latest iOS, Apple has teamed with Bank of America (and others?) and ApplePay is a POS app! Many remain concerned about Near Field Communications, where a cyber hacker can steal sensitive financial information.

Magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards are so 20th Century. A few years ago, many merchants tried laser bar code readers for payment cards (e.g., payments at gas pumps), but removed the readers… were the readers that hard to use, or were they too costly to maintain? After recent security breaches some U.S. banks are revamping credit card security measures–adding security “chips” that other countries have used for decades. It’s about time… but users still must “swipe” their cards through a reader.

Global energy and natural resource challenges

The U.S. is enjoying the “energy boom,” at the highest domestic production rates in decades, and needs to ensure that there is not a rapid “bust.” Despite the drop in oil prices (barrels of West Texas Intermediate Crude), North American Shale Oil plays will continue into 2015.

Cheap natural gas prices will allow the chemicals industry to continue with large projects, the scale of which we have not seen in the U.S. since the late 1970s and early 1980s. While the demand for new natural gas and liquids pipelines remains high, these projects will slow a bit. Why not deposit some of the cheap oil and gas to increase the National Petroleum Reserve?

Changing demographics and consumer spending

Many emerging countries will continue to see the largest increase in spending power in the under-35 population. The consumer population in the U.S. will continue to increase dramatically in two segments—over-60 and under 35 years old—thus creating the challenge of serving both markets.

Considering how much consumer technologies spill over into business, the challenge is applying these technologies to address the needs of divergent populations. In 2015, software applications will be all about the user experience, and the real challenge will be the balance between the user experience and addressing enterprise needs such as information security and scalability.

Cashless payments

Consumers will continue to increase their comfort level with online, cashless payments. Mobile cashless payments will take a while to gain market share amid concerns of cybersecurity and as consumers upgrade their mobile technology. Regardless of the method, companies in the payment business must move to multi-factor authentication and anonymous, one-time authorization codes that are more difficult to steal, or, if stolen, are useless.

While consumers–especially the 35-and-under demographic–have handily adopted paperless check deposits, this will not quickly spill over into the business world. Businesses will continue to remain entrenched in hard-copy checks, P-cards (Purchase Cards) and ACH (automated clearinghouse) payments in 2015. So, keep the car gassed up (or charged) for those trips to the post office and bank.

With the new year coming upon us quickly, there is plenty to think about with respect to information technology and the environment. Your thoughts?


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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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Lexicon Systems, LLC President & CEO Jill Barson Gilbert will speak at #SPF Americas 2014, 25-26 September in Chicago, IL. She will speak on “Business Requirements and Software Selection Best Practices” on the morning of 26 September in the Implementation Strategies track, applying many years of experience and observations.

Most software initiatives fail, and the greatest cause of failure is poor definition of business requirements and the ability to turn those requirements into useful features that users will adopt.  

–Jill Barson Gilbert

The presentation will address

  • the challenges of complex software initiatives
  • how clear, prioritized business requirements lead to better software implementation outcomes
  • the importance of establishing objective evaluation and selection criteria
  • why executive support and early stakeholder involvement are critical to success.

If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.

–Yogi Berra

Sustainability Performance Forum (SPF) Americas 2014

Image: Enablon

Jill Gilbert is in the company of environment, health & Safety (EHS), risk management, sustainability and IT thought leaders on the two-day conference program. Founder of Lexicon Systems, LLC, she is a trusted advisor to C-level executives. Her firm has has helped clients in a range of industry sectors to achieve business objectives, streamline #EHS management systems through the use of IT, reduce operational #risk, enhance #compliance and become more productive.

Click here to register for the complimentary two-day conference. In addition to the value-packed information exchange during more than 55 technical sessions, SPF offers free Enablon software training and a wealth of networking opportunities with professionals from global companies.


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Upcoming Sustainable Performance Forum to focus on operational risk and process safety management

The Enablon Sustainable Performance Forum (SPF) will bring experts on operational risk management and process safety management to Houston, TX on the afternoon of 21 May. Book author and award-winning journalist Loren Steffy will deliver the opening keynote address. Environment, health & safety (EHS) management information system thought leader Jill Barson Gilbert of Lexicon Systems, LLC will moderate a panel discussion. Panelists include Jess A. McAngus, respected compliance expert and Co-founder Spirit Environmental; Jonathan Commanday, Director Applications Services at Axiall Corporation; and Leah Cartwright, Process Safety subject matter expert from Enablon North America Corp.

Enablon’s North America Product Manager Alexis Merydith will present the Enablon V7.0 Road Map and demonstrate the software’s Management of Change (MOC) capabilities. Global risk expert John Kill, Partner in ERM’s Risk Practice, will deliver the closing keynote address.

EEnablon sustainable performance forum houston 2014xisting Enablon software customers are invited to participate in a pre-conference Customer Workshop. Here they will meet with Enablon founders Dan Vogel, Phil Tesler and Marc Vogel and the product team to learn about and provide input on future software releases.

Consulting firm ERM is the conference co-sponsor. Read the press release here and register for the complimentary conference here.


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Metrics matter in Google vs. Apple market leader competition

Perhaps the greatest tech rivalry of the 20th century was Oracle (Larry Ellison) vs. Microsoft (Bill Gates). Fast forward to 2014, with Google and Apple in hot competition for market leadership. 

200px-Apple_logo_black

Image: Apple

Image: Google

Image: Google

Like Oracle (enterprise database software) and Microsoft (operating system, desktop and server software and PCs), Google and Apple started in different market niches. Today, their two markets overlap.

  • Google’s Android OS and hardware overlap Apple’s OSX and iOS operating systems.
  • Both companies are smartphone and tablet market leaders, with Google Android sales surpassing Apple iOS sales for the first time in late 2013.
  • Together, the two companies offer one million-plus applications through Google Play, iTunes and the Mac Apps Store.
  • Both companies offer “wearable tech.”
  • Google and Apple both grow organically and through acquisition. Notable Google acquisitions include Android, YouTube, Picasa and Motorola Mobility; notable Apple acquisitions include iOS, iWorks, TouchID and Maps software.

So, who wins the competition? It depends upon which metrics you use. I prefer a combination of several. Read Apple vs. Google: The goliath deathmatch by the numbers 2014.


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Pcell technology boasts 1000x faster cellular connections

Pcell is a new communications technology that could make connections 1000 times as fast as 4G (fourth generation) or LTE (Long Term Evolution) cell communications. When implemented, pcell will work without the need for new handsets. Your 4G or LTE-capable smartphone will do just fine. And a pcell-capable smartphone could do even better.

The term “pcell” refers to “personal cell”–each user effectively has his/her personal communications cell. Advantages over current technologies abound… “Besides speed and signal strength, it uses a lot less power” and “pCell also brings significant reductions in the amount of infrastructure needed to power a cell network.” mobile phone

Artemis, the Steve Perlman company that developed the technology, plans an initial rollout in San Francisco in late 2014, with possible rollouts in other cellular markets by late 2015, though many large markets continue to build out their 4G LTE networks.

Read more here.