How to Unleash the Value of Sensors and Big Data

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How to Unleash the Value of Sensors and Big Data

How to Unleash the Value of Sensors and Big Data

In the past couple of years, we have written a lot of commentary about how the world of IT and the world of Energy are converging. As more and more companies are choosing not to own and operate their IT, the role of IT departments is fast moving away from just technical support towards strategic thinking informed by data analysis. The same can be said for Energy as companies gain access to wireless energy monitoring via cloud-based analytics, CIO's and IT managers have equal interest as COO's and plant managers as the Internet of Things is rolled out. The convergence of data across all areas of a business is quickly growing and how this data is used to inform executive as well as operational level decision making and planning. In the last 12 months, Total Utilities has installed several hundred wireless energy sensors around New Zealand. Data from these energy sensors are being used across numerous areas from cost allocation, performance and product benchmarking, energy efficiency, sustainability reporting, preventative maintenance and tenant rebilling. The following article was written by Jon Rabinowitz and underlines the need for cross-section planning and acceptance to ensure IoT success. Total Utilities can help your business through this planning process to ensure that key stakeholders are part of your IoT journey. The most effective way to derive value from sensor technology and big data is to ensure you can analyze and act on the information gathered. When sensors are deployed as data capture/communication instruments and paired with best-in-class Big Data analytics, the result is the life breath of value-driven Internet of Things technology. Unfortunately, more often than not, IoT systems are rolled out without proper planning, and simply so some manager can check a box and say that he or she undertook an IoT initiative. When organizations are driven by hype, that value-generating substance generally falls by the wayside. Too often this is the case with IoT projects pursued for their buzz-worthiness, without due attention paid to the smart sensor and Big Data nuts and bolts of the thing. Indeed, IoT for IoT's sake can only get you so far. Ganesh Ramamoorthy, a principal research analyst at Gartner, told The Economic Times that "8 out of 10 IoT projects fail even before they're launched." If we're to believe that figure, it begs the question, what are companies doing wrong? Why Companies Fail In Putting Sensors and Big Data to Work Compelled by topical hype, there's often a sense of urgency associated with IoT projects. According to Mark Lochmann, a senior consultant at Qittitut Consulting, that self-imposed urgency gets the best of organizations. In an interview with IndustryWeek, Lochmann explains that many enterprises "dive headfirst" into Internet of Things projects without really understanding how the technology affects their operations. Too often decision-makers get themselves drunk on buzz and embark on technology rollouts, without really understanding what needs to happen and how that tech needs to tie back into business operations in order to derive value. They simply neglected to consider how installing hundreds, possibly thousands of sensors across their business is supposed to portend an improved bottom line. To avoid missteps, be sure to consider the following practical factors: Where the sensors will process the data (point of creation, edge devices, in the Cloud, etc.) Which tools analysts need to visualize and interpret data. How the company will validate and cleanse sensor information.  The data governance policies which will protect data. The infrastructure necessary to support analysis (data warehousing, data mart, extract transport load servers, etc.). Lacking wherewithal on these basic project components, research from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Iron Mountain reveals that only 4% of enterprises "extract full value" from the data they own. However, it's not just planning that's holding companies back either. The same study found that an additional 36% of businesses were hamstrung – regardless of how thoroughly they'd thought through the project – due to system and resource limitations. That paints a rather bleak picture, but there's no reason to despair. The above statistics notwithstanding, there remains plenty that conscientious managers can do to ensure the success and of their integrated sensor and Big Data initiatives. Start With Specific Use Cases, Then Dig Deeper Many organizations don't know how sensors and big data will impact their data centres. Managers leading sensor and Big Data projects need to outline specific use cases before even thinking about implementation. A smart manager will have a firm handle on how such technology is likely to impact operations on a day-to-day level – not based on intuition or imagination but on data. Better yet, that manager will set very specific expectations, delivery processes and timelines for what he or she wants to achieve on the back of sensor and big data technology. For example, let's say you want to install advanced wireless sensors in your facility. The person leading the project should explicate his or her intention to leverage collected data in order to: Diagnose problems with equipment to predict failures. Analyze the production efficiency of each asset. Determine how many tons of material you process on an hourly basis. Monitor worker health and locations across the facility.  Of course, not all data is equal and the lion's share of that discrepancy will depend on the data type. Data pertaining to equipment functionality, it should be understood, is among the most important and time-sensitive. Such data should be processed immediately given that it can tell the story, in real time, of costly malfunctions. Some of your data will demand review in real-time, some every half hour and some every other month. Most will find itself living between those poles. Regardless of the data type though, you'll need to be sure that when you consult it, it conveys something that is actually meaningful and actionable. For this, you'll need to plan out and gain relative mastery over your processing system. This means carefully choosing an analytics solution or a combination of complementary solutions. It may also mean hiring an in-house data scientist or simply bringing in outside help for training purposes. In some cases, it will even mean building out an on-site information network. In every case, it will mean instilling a data- and value-driven culture, where employees not only have access to tools but know when and how to properly use them. Remember, there's no such thing as too much research and that hype can be as dangerous as it is enticing. Bearing that in mind, the world of IoT is big and wide and waiting for you!

Are Cloud Computing Costs in for an Unexpected Surge?

Are Cloud Computing Costs in for an Unexpected Surge?

Last week the IT industry was shocked to find that the Intel chipsets that drive many of our phones, smartphones, laptops, desktops and our servers, have an architectural flaw that exposes them to hacking. The other two major chipset manufacturers AMD and ARM appear to be much less affected. By patching their operating systems to address this design flaw in the Intel chipset the OS providers have been forced to sacrifice the thing that impacts us most, performance. The numbers aren’t out yet but we could be seeing reductions in performance of between 5% and 30%. For the average user, even a 30% reduction in performance on their laptop or smartphone might not have any discernible impact. Most of us don’t use even a fraction of the capability of our machines and with the consumption of cloud software services such as Office 365 the compute power is in the cloud anyway. But herein lies the problem… Cloud Service Providers (CSP’s) like Microsoft, Google and Amazon are massive consumers of high-intensity computing power. Every day they wrestle with optimising the cost and performance of their infrastructure environments to deliver to their own and their customers’ needs. CSP’s have been the first to implement the security patches on their servers, as you would expect from responsible global providers. This is where a 30% performance reduction really hurts. My guess is that their systems architects have been in a right state of panic about how to address the possibility of significant performance degradation unless loads of new equipment is installed in a hurry. What does this mean to you, the business user of cloud services? The future performance, and thus the relative cost, of chipsets, will also likely change for the worse in the short to medium term. The security flaw I mentioned earlier was based on the need for manufacturers to make chipsets run faster. This design is now no longer acceptable from a security perspective and will have to change somehow. It will take time for them to come up with a new solution. In the meantime, all those performance/price gains we have come to expect in the past will be very hard won indeed. Expect increases in prices for Intel-based computers and some smartphones. Expect to see cloud services prices rise as CSP’s move to recover their increased infrastructure overheads both current and into the future There is little we can do in New Zealand to force a better deal from the big multinationals. Local providers like Datacom and Revera are subject to price/performance challenges as much as the next company and are unlikely to welcome requests for better pricing. What you can do, though, is to manage cloud computing costs by addressing the issue of consumption through closely monitoring when and how you use cloud computing infrastructure. Microsoft and Amazon both now provide options for paying a lower price for guaranteed future consumption. There is also the option available to purchase services on the spot market. Discounts in this market can be as high as 90% but you must know what you are doing because spot markets go up and down based on demand. Monitoring and then actively managing cloud consumption requires experience and skill. Rather than trying to do it yourself, you should consider using the services of a utility analytics firm. This will help inform the decisions you make, directly tie cloud computing cost savings to the activity and will allow you to focus on the business at hand rather than on what can be a rapidly changing and complex computing marketplace. Total Utilities has the tools and expertise to deliver real insights and recommendations to help optimise your cloud consumption and cost. For more info click here or contact us today.

Geeks, nerds and that burning smell - ICT winners and losers in 2017

Last year I compiled a satirical list of ICT companies that won or lost the battle for the affection of us ICT brokers for businesses. The response was a mixture of simpering sweetness and hate mail (you know who you are). Nevertheless, I’m doing it again this year, in this article. To my colleagues who I offend in the next few hundred words, I apologise for my ill humour, even if you have been the authors of your own destruction. ICT Winners and Losers (a satire) The Coolest Kids in Town Award: Kordia Who would have thought that Kordia -- formerly government-owned BCL with its unwashed hoard of nerds in walk shorts, sandals, long socks and straggly beards -- would have transformed itself over a single decade into the ultra-cool company it is now? Delivering superb, Ultra-Fast Broadband innovation at impressive price/performance levels and showing market leadership in emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things-enabler Sigfox, it seems maybe geeks can fly after all. The How Many Fingers am I Holding Up? Award: 2 Degrees It seems only a year or two ago that 2Degrees offered great coverage to the major cities and a big finger to the provinces. Millions of dollars and a heck of a lot of hard work later, they now offer something resembling decent coverage at a very competitive price. A player to watch in 2018. The Spurned Lover Award: Spark Marketing Please, please, please Spark will you stop telling us how crap you were and how things will get better now that you have sacked half your staff. When all you have left are excuses for your bad behaviour and pleas for forgiveness, maybe it’s time to make a break with the past and move on. In truth you are damn good at the things that matter and most of us love buying off Kiwi companies (see Kordia and Datacom). The People’s Choice Award: Datacom For those of you who have nothing but bad things to say about these guys I have two questions: "Where do the vast majority of the most respected and admired ex- Gen-i and Computerland people work now?” and, “Which other Kiwi success story has grown at over 11 per cent year-on-year for over a decade, while competing head to head against some of the world’s smartest and most successful multi-nationals?” Datacom has proved, to the tune of $1.2 billion a year in revenues, that people buy off people, even if most of them have grey hair poking out their noses and ears. The Comeback Kid Award: Samsung Galaxy S8 The best thing since the Nokia flip phone. Great camera, features and battery life. Pity people still think twice before putting it in their pocket. The Lone Ranger Award: People still investing in DIY IT infrastructure The No 8 wire mentality that you were so proud of in the 90s is now just a sign of your desire to control everything at the expense of business flexibility. We know you want to prove that you are more intelligent than everyone else, but have you noticed that the guy who pays your wages and conducts your annual salary review has stopped putting you in front of the business and has informally renamed your section “The Department of No”? That roaring sound is the jet engine that is public cloud departing with your career prospects. The Hottie of the Year Award: Samsung Note 7 I was so proud when I took you out of the box and stroked your luscious lines. The screen definition, the camera, the selection of cool software: you made me truly happy for a while. Then there was the smoke, the heat, the burning sensation in my pocket…has anyone seen the fire extinguisher? Oh, the humanity!   Merry Christmas readers. Talk in the New Year. David Spratt is a director of Total Utilities. Email david@totalutilities.co.nz

Leaking air, leaking bottom line: top money-saving tips

The following was published in the NZ Herald 25th of November 2017 and includes energy tips from Total Utilities' own Pushkar Kulkarni who reveals how leaking air wastes money. Four energy experts offer top tips to save money Running an air-conditioning unit at full tilt to cool down one part of a building, while a boiler blazes away to heat another part of that same building, sounds like madness - but it's surprisingly common in New Zealand's commercial buildings. It's just one of the ways businesses are squandering energy, and therefore money, in the course of their day-to-day operations. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) say many businesses could shave up to 20 per cent off energy costs - with the potential energy efficiency savings adding up to $900 million a year across all New Zealand businesses by 2030, if all economic options are adopted. The good news is many of the fixes are inexpensive, immediately effective and boast short timeframes for return on investment. Some even cost nothing. According to some of the market's energy efficiency experts, here are some of the most common ways businesses are wasting energy. Poor energy monitoring Simon Ross, mechanical engineer, Beca: "People leave their buildings running when there's no one in them. The warm-up cycles also often start way too early in the mornings - and no one is even aware of it." Ross says monitoring energy use identifies where it is being wasted and quickly clarifies a plan of attack. It's a classic case of not being able to manage what hasn't been measured. "Once you've measured it, it then makes sense to compare your energy usage to others in your industry - to benchmark it." Ross points to Beca's benchmarking of electricity use of Christchurch schools: "When a school can see where it sits relative to another school then they can see the value in reducing their energy usage. Until you give them data to show where they sit, they're basically only able to compare with how they've performed historically - which might be good, or terrible." EECA Business has its Energy Management Journey tool set up for precisely this purpose. It's a free online tool where users input energy usage data, then find out how they're doing compared to similar businesses. Find out more at https://www.eecabusiness.govt.nz/tools/energy-management-journey Leaking Air Pushkar Kulkarni, business manager sustainability solutions, Total Utilities: "Many companies invest in a new air compressor but may not make an effort to find the leaks in the system first. If all of those leaks are found and fixed, they may conclude there is no need to invest in a new compressor." Kulkarni sees this scenario on a regular basis. He estimates eight out of every 10 systems could be leaking air. "These systems are very common in New Zealand - particularly in the industries of production, packaging, food processing, waste, yarn and pharmaceutical production. Over time they may deteriorate or be modified and start leaking air. They can be expensive to run, so the savings from identifying and fixing leaks can be considerable. It's usually a fairly inexpensive fix with a fast return on investment."     Uninsulated pipes Glenn Johnston, Smart Power: "If it's an exposed pipe in a warm boiler room it's not as bad but, if that pipe runs outside or through the roof space where it's a lot colder, the heat loss can be substantial." Johnston is used to seeing money go down the drain in the form of energy escaping from uninsulated pipes, used for both heating and cooling. "Industries where it's important to insulate pipes include the likes of food processors, hospitals, freezing works, packaging plants - anywhere they have refrigeration or hot water needs." Often these pipes are easier to get to than in commercial buildings, making repairs easier and cheaper. Johnston cites the example of a plant his company worked on. The company beefed up insulation of steam and hot water equipment. A $20,000 investment turned into an annual saving of some 250,000kWh, or $11,000, giving a payback period of just 1.9 years. "When you insulate pipes properly you get an immediate impact," says Johnston. Heating and cooling systems fighting each other Alastair Hines, divisional manager, Enercon: "Heating and cooling systems are often working at the same time. Nobody worries about it too much, because it's the norm." Hines points to one business which Enercon found many of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems were operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when not required. The HVAC systems also did not have an air temperature dead-band to prevent frequent switching from heating to cooling and vice versa. That resulted in increased demands on the system and adjacent zones simultaneously heating and cooling. Hines says this happens in many commercial buildings, typically because the building is poorly controlled. He estimates 10-20 per cent of the energy used for heating and cooling in a building is wasted. "When you consider heating and cooling account for up to 50 per cent of the total cost of running it, that 10-20 per cent can be a big saving. Adding sub-meters, sensors, and re-programming the building management system all make a big difference." A treasure trove of information about how businesses can save energy is available on www.eecabusiness.govt.nz, or find an energy management expert in the Programme Partner directory.

New Branding and New Services

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. Drawing is the honesty of the art. Salvador Dali Today Total Utilities announces its new branding. Over the last 18 years we have worked hard to assist companies in controlling consumption and cost. It's an exciting day for us and we are proud to share this with you. From today you'll see a change in the way we look, including our new ribbon logo. The spherical shape represents the whole as we take a 360 degree approach to understanding our clients and their utility requirements, whether it be Energy, Waste and ICT or Insights, Strategy and Solutions. What doesn't change is our desire to create a sustainable future for New Zealand businesses and how they manage their utilities by continuing to deliver ongoing value for our clients. We continue to work hard to provide new services to assist our clients such as Energy Monitoring and Targeting through wireless non-intrusive energy senors, Cloud Computing Analytics for consumption of computer services and qualitative and quantitative reporting aligned to overall financial strategy. Total Utiltities About Us Presentation We remain committed to delivering a personalised service and assisting our clients navigate a rapidly evolving commercial market place by underpinning strategic thinking. I would like to thank our existing clients for your continued loyalty and confidence in our company. To prospective clients, I hope that you will partner with us to discover real world solutions for sustainable utility consumption and cost optimisation.

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Ongoing Insights with Cloud Analytics: Zespri Case Study

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