Start With ERP Any organization with an ERP system keeps data on its resource use. For instance, if you're running a vehicle fleet, you should know how much gasoline you're buying. Palo Alto runs its own electric utility for the city and residents, so it also has details about its power consumption-information that's often also available from independent power companies. Every time a city vehicle fills its tank, SAP captures that data. With such records, the police department discovered it could save fuel by using fans in parked canine unit vehicles. When the project is completed, officers won't have to leave the cars running when the dogs are inside. Other initiatives include upgrading compact fluorescent lightbulbs and replacing old, inefficient equipment (such as refrigerators). City officials use the Hara software to track their progress toward those carbon emissions goals.
Palo Alto's CIO Glenn Loo didn't want to spend much money or staff resources managing a niche analytics tool. But a SaaS solution could be installed quickly, and the city wouldn't have to assign anyone to learn a new application. Loo's team wrote an interface between SAP and Hara to integrate the two applications. Having to pull data from multiple systems would have been harder, Loo says, but Palo Alto had just consolidated four legacy applications into a single SAP instance.
"In the end, we took something that was a sideline and we really built it into an energy-management system," says Van Orsdol. "We built it as a business process."
Read more about enterprise resource planning (erp) in CIO's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Drilldown.