A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the development of smart cities around the world that are taking advantage of emerging technologies to better manage scare resources. In a recent Fast Company article on water, this exact same trend was highlighted but it also reinforced another major theme that we at KeySo Global are passionate about, namely reframing perspectives.
Water is a resource that, in the developed world, is in plentiful supply and therefore tends to be taken for granted. We get up in the morning, head to the bathroom, run the shower, flush the toilet, make tea, brush our teeth, grab a bottle of water on our way out of the door and think nothing of it.
Those businesses that rely on water for their manufacturing processes, however, and take the economic value of water more seriously, are starting to think about and use it differently. One example given in this article is of a wool washing company in one of the driest areas of Australia. It became so concerned about the volume and cost of the expensive mains water it was using for its processes, that it came across the idea of using storm water that the town had been siphoning away instead, and for 2/3 of the price. Necessity spurred this company to look outside its traditional supply chain boundaries and, as a result, a new type of water utility was developed that benefitted both business and local government.
IBM not only talks about designing and building the smart planet, it has gone one step further and has seized Digital World opportunities with both hands! By changing the way it perceived itself – as not just a computing company – and adopting a more flexible and innovative business model, IBM has been able to create a new lucrative business – around water.
At its microchip plant in Burlington, IBM uses ultrapure water to produce semiconductors. Its monthly water bill for this amounts to $100,000. Wanting to find a way to use less water and use it more smartly, IBM took a step back and looked at the water cycle as a whole. It refined its processes and made them more efficient, so that between 2000 and 2009 the Burlington plant managed to cut its water usage by 29%.
Recognizing that water isn’t “smart” (most meters are still read manually) and that it’s crucial that it be better managed, IBM plans to take innovation to the next level – into Digital Life – by introducing a new age of “smart water”. Water sensors connected to computers that can analyze an individual household’s water consumption will mean that, in future, consumers will have a better understanding and appreciation of this valuable resource.
These examples of both a global multinational and a small backwoods company rethinking their existing processes, assumptions and methods are indicative of the necessity in these rapidly changing times to look beyond the confines of your traditional business models. Sometimes, if an urgent need doesn’t prompt this change of thinking, then an external perspective based on new insights can act as the trigger. It’s then that you can discover untapped opportunities afforded by Digital World technologies that are very often right there for the taking – you may just need help identifying them. We would be delighted to assist you with this nudge into the digital world. Just give us a call at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC