Last week in Copenhagen I attended a side event in the Climate Change Conference (COP15). The topic was the importance of growing the service industries. There were two presentations from the hotel business and two presentations from the ICT business.
One hotel presented their efforts to be carbon neutral, which is a huge success in itself. They also were very good in keeping their employees engaged throughout the whole process. I do think that this is the key to their success. The frontline employees are really their ambassadors for the services that they deliver. Much of what they did was internally focused. There is still a big opportunity in translating this greening of the business into great customer experiences. They had plans to buy electric cars. But what about picking up your customers from the airport with these electric cars? Or giving them these electric cars in the city?
They also explained the Green Key program. Although this is a fine program in itself, but what does it mean for the customer, what needs are addressed and what are my benefits as a customer? Again here is still much room for improvement. They really need to think about adding new services, which are attractive to the customers.
A representative from the ICT industry mentioned the potential savings from greening your business.
- Introducing building management systems
- Less transportation through e.g. videoconferencing
- Checking the energy footprint at the workplace
- Datacenters which use wind/water/ground power
- Building an internet of energy, a grid
The main issue he addressed is how to change people’s behavior. What is needed to make people travel less? What is needed to lower the temperature in buildings? They think that only money savings are the driver of changing behaviors. It is my understanding however that people are open to change when they underline the need for change, when you involve them in creating smart solutions and when you have a very meaningful goal. If these conditions are met, they will be pulling the change instead of pushing via management.
There was also a company, which builds energy efficient products for home automation. Through their low cost metering solution 30% savings can be accomplished. This is fine, but what is still missing are the services to implement them with customers. It requires a change in behaviors with customers, so what a great opportunity this is to add services to your portfolio to help your customers with this transition?
So, it comes as no surprise that most of these ‘greening your business’ efforts are seen as a marketing tool rather than as a serious commitment towards sustainable development. There is a huge opportunity if companies design services, which meet customers needs as well. The 100.000 people who demonstrated in Copenhagen prove that they are also very serious about the need of getting green!
GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!