Utilities, Data Centers, and Social Media

I found this interesting post today on Triplepundit.  I was amazed at the combination of themes covered in this post as I kick off this blog.  Here are some of the themes:

  • Cyber shopping for the holiday season
  • The growth of consumer electronics sales
  • Upcoming challenges facing utilities
  • The use of social media to communicate ideas

There’s a lot here, but it can be distilled down to a couple key points relevant to this blog.

  1. The growth in use of the internet, consumer electronics (which increasingly drive internet use) and online social networking tools, which are the things that increasingly drive the growth of data centers and their energy usage.
  2. The need for utilities to use these tools to connect with customers for better customer service and energy saving opportunities.

The thing that makes this interesting is it really illustrates the idea that not only are data centers driving increased electricity use, but they’re also providing us tools to enable energy savings and help spread information on energy saving opportunities (like this blog!).

The author drives home the point that utilities should be dynamic in their thinking to take advantage of these trends, saying “The evidence appears compelling that if an electric utility does not engage its customers in a communal, customer-centric, process then the customers will use new media paths to find non-utility sourced solutions, such as the emergence of iPhone apps that enable enterprise or home scale energy management solutions, including interfacing to onsite solar and battery systems.”

From what I’ve seen, this really seems applicable to the data center industry, as you have an advanced, high-tech industry looking to utilities for support and guidance on opportunities for energy savings. The more utilities can get in this role of gathering and disseminating opportunities for energy savings to data center customers, and possibly offering financial incentives where they make sense, the more they can help lead this industry to save energy and keep the electricity growth in this industry from rising as quickly as the growth in demand for digital services. Helping limit the rapid growth of data center energy use will help utilities be able to meet future capacity needs.

The irony is that the some of the very data centers which offer utilities opportunities for substantial energy savings give us the tools to help influence the energy market and realize these savings.

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One Response to “Utilities, Data Centers, and Social Media”

  1. Bill Roth Says:

    Thanks AJ for insightful analysis of my article on Where Were The Utilities on Cyber Monday. You are so on target about the irony that the very data centers being served by electric utilities enable the type of social/new media engagement utility customers seek with their utility.

    I have just published The Secret Green Sauce that profiles the best practices of actual companies who are succeeding in making a social/new media connection with their customers and are achieving green revenue growth. Here’s the link to the book on Amazon: http://bit.ly/5Bu99y

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