Thursday, 5 November 2009

Carbon Management Software – State of the Nation

I am using the phrase “carbon” management software deliberately. Using words such as sustainability & environmental do not necessarily attract the right talent, create the right feel and, frankly, make some people run a mile.

A quick check if I say “environmental” to you - what picture is in your head right now? What are you thinking? I bet its not cool, teccie, exciting software and programme deployment the like of which we haven’t seen before, is it?

Does GHG sound attractive to you? What about carbon accounting? Does “environmental management system” turn you on? Nah, didn’t think so.

None of these phrases grab me either, so that’s why I prefer not to use them. I prefer words normal people understand, are familiar with reading in their everyday newspapers and can apply a broad brush too. One thing is for sure, the vocabulary used by organisations penetrating a variety of vertical markets will be increasingly important in order that you don’t pigeon-hole your product into a single sector – and you may have to change it depending on which circles you are moving in.

So things are definitely hotting up in the carbon management sofware sector but we don’t have any decent traction… yet. What we do have is a lot of talk. There are some good looking solutions sloooowly coming to market… lots of RFIs/Bids, case studies building etc. but who is really selling and who is really buying?

Across the board incoming enquiries are reported to be up… but don’t hold your breath. I hear this week that the Environment Agency are sending mass mail shots out without so much as a job title in information packs.

Here are some of the things I see adding to the confusion and noise out there:
  • Lots of products and services window shopping by all manner of functional areas on the client side and none that necessarily hold the keys to an open cheque book.
  • Complex sales entry points – sure you may get in with the FM manager – but who do you need to mark off next?
  • Who has got responsibility for delivery of these solutions across the business – come to that are people thinking “cross business solution” or are they thinking “solve just my problem”?
  • Solutions that fall across a number of areas take some digging to find where overall responsibility lie.
  • Long, laborious scoping out of solutions that have to go through a myriad of sign offs.
  • Prospects are underestimating the complexity and reality of the legislation coming down the pipe – there could be some expensive mis-selling and retrofitting going on.
  • Interfaces with existing data systems – other environmental management software, HR software, facilities management software – what about communication with outsourced functions and partners?
  • Vertical markets – everyone’s going for the big ones first and boy are they making the most of shopping around because they don’t want to make a purchasing error. Seriously – hands up who is working with Tesco?
  • Channel and reseller markets. Who is getting into bed with who and are you competing against them in the market now – how will that relationship play out?
  • Carbon consultancies WAKE UP - this as a huge cross-sell/up-sell opportunity. But you need a different skillset to sell these software solution babies… do you just want to sell “consultancy” – well you have a 24 month shelf life if that is the case. Call me if you need the right talent to help you open this revenue channel – you have the easy part you UNDERSTAND the client pain, a couple of extra heads with the right knowledge of these products and you have yourself a brand new revenue channel that will extend your company’s shelf life.
  • Reseller models - make a wrong move now and you could find yourself in an exclusive reseller partnership with a non-market leader – could be very damaging.
  • Software players –are you underestimating the amount of handholding needed to put these products into play? This is not something for the white socked sales person. Consulting credibility client side is the key. There is no getting away from the fact that your front facing sales people will need a modicum of holistic carbon management programme understanding, backed up by some subject matter experts who can navigate their way around the legislative framework. Cue merger and acquisition activity in the boutique consultancy arena.
  • Lack of product information – things are moving so fast its difficult to benchmark the different offerings and who really does have credible case history on deployment – half the products I see are still being developed off the shelf as things go along – which is fine – providing you have the right person holding the client’s hand and you understand the vertical markets you are operating in.
  • Product Evolution – so you have a wonderful shiny new product - but can you spot the challenges coming through the rest of the market that will impact it and can you keep pace? (think PESTLE, I’m sure you know what I mean).
  • Patience – there’s going to be a mixing of a whole host of cultures on this moving forward… that will be an interesting play out – FM, CSR, CTO, FD, HR, IT Sales, outsourcing companies, infrastructure providers and Green Consultants...
  • Panic – From what I can see I am predicting that come February some organisations are not going to have the bandwidth to service the enquiries coming through the channels. Don’t leave it until next year – get your teams assembled now!
There will shortly be a feeding frenzy. We know who’s having the conversations and marking off the best talent in the marketplace but not actually hiring yet. Well prepare for a bidding war soon. Those organisations that move early to acquire the brightest talent will have the greatest chance of success.

If you are a candidate, open to the idea of a new opportunity, make sure you back a thoroughbred with a well thought out plan that is showing the ability to flex and actively learn how to approach different markets. Don’t back a donkey that’s just thinking we sell “IT solutions” this way! There will not be enough space in the future.

The talent is out there but will not be for long. I welcome serious clients – no tyre kickers please!

Call or email me for the latest talent hotsheet of individuals available in this space – or if you want to go on it, for that matter!

By Debby Lloyd
Managing Direcor, EcoSearch

Some upcoming events you might also find interesting:
Green IT Expo - London 10th & 11th November 2009
Smart Energy 09 - London - 1st & 2nd December 2009
Green Monday - London - 7th December 2009

1 comment:

  1. really a broad term, i did not knew about it widely.