July 29, 2011, 2:23 PM — To create a greener enterprise, you need the right tools. But as with any emerging area of technology, you can't necessarily pick them off the shelf. Three of this year's CIO 100 winners found ways to advance sustainability in their companies or industries by crafting new IT-enabled business practices that not only improved efficiency but also set the stage for business growth.
Modernizing the Power Grid
Electric utilities must modernize just to meet growing demand, including for alternative energy sources. "Consumer patterns of buying energy will change when they start plugging in hybrid vehicles," observes Tony Giroti, CEO of Bridge Energy Group. Utilities need data to manage electricity generation better and deliver new services to customers.
As Bridge Energy worked with utility clients to update their operations and integrate siloed systems, the company found a void. The utilities were missing enterprise architectures that could actually guide their integration efforts, whether internally or among industry partners and customers. So Bridge Energy created its CIO 100 Award-winning open Smart Grid Reference Architecture, which is being used to create a standard for the industry. "Every organization will have different tactical needs," says Giroti, but a reference architecture provides a common framework for addressing them.
A New Supply Chain
The supply chain for distributing fossil fuels is well established--and well automated. Not so for renewable fuels and supplements such as ethanol and biodiesel. "The technology and the accounting and the administrative and regulatory compliance was an absolute requirement to get that product into the fuel supply chain efficiently and economically," says Mansfield Oil CIO Douglas Haugh.
To fill the gap, the fuel-distribution company created Renewable FuelNet (RFN) a cloud-based Web service for managing the renewables supply chain. Among its other features, RFN enables buyers and sellers to make deals, track shipments and comply with regulations.
Since last year, when RFN went live, Mansfield Oil's renewable fuel volume has increased by a third. As the renewables industry expands, it will likely include many more small producers, Haugh says. "That makes being able to plug into the fuel supply chain more important for the local facility," he adds, and RFN provides Mansfield Oil with a competitive advantage.
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