Energy Software Integration Posing Huge Problem for Users

by | Sep 28, 2011

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Energy management software is creating a massive integration challenge for its users, with companies buying up to eight different applications to meet 12 different usage scenarios, according to research from Verdantix.

The Buyers’ Guide to Energy Management Software outlines eight major software categories: commercial building energy management; enterprise energy management; energy purchasing, billing and reporting; manufacturing energy management; demand-response; facility energy modelling and certification; ICT infrastructure energy management; and PC power management.

A survey carried out for the report found that software companies have customers for each application in nearly every sector, though market penetration is highest in the retail, government, education, technology, real estate and telecoms sectors. Media, basic resources, travel and leisure have the lowest rates of energy software adoption.

The survey covered 33 software vendors and 16 software buyers.

According to Verdantix, the huge variety of energy-consuming assets, including lights, security systems, HVAC, boilers, elevators, servers, routers and manufacturing equipment, means no single application will collect the data from all energy consuming end points.

Verdantix said that suppliers have mainly responded to the integration challenge using in-house resources: 64 percent of the software suppliers in the survey have developed their own wrap-around energy services while a further 12 percent partner for energy services such as data collection, processing, analysis and energy procurement.

It said that IT services firms like Accenture, Capgemini and Infosys have the skills to help their software partners crack IT systems integration. But it warned that connecting up the software to creaking, analogue systems to automate data collection and control devices will be costly and very slow.

The last several years have seen a boom in energy management software, with 38 new applications launched since January 2009, Verdantix said.  Releases of entirely new applications peaked in 2009 with 21 product launches. In 2010 this fell to ten new apps and 2011 has seen an additional seven new energy software applications.

Verdantix identified 72 suppliers of energy management software. Of 33 suppliers surveyed, 63 percent sell to the head of energy, 53 percent to the head of facilities and 44 percent to the head of sustainability. By contrast the CFO only features as a direct contract sponsor for 28 percent of suppliers and the CIO’s team has only been a software buyer for 19 percent.

The low involvement of IT reflects the preponderance of SaaS propositions, tactical deployments and a lack of corporate IT policy on energy software, Verdantix said.

The research house said that announced VC investment in the sector in the past two years has exceeded $100 million, and it estimates an equivalent amount in corporate funding or acquisition spend by the likes of CA Technologies, IBM, IHS, Oracle and SAP.

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