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3 New Developments in the Rapid Growth of Carbon Management Tools

The nascent market for enterprise carbon & energy management (ECEM) systems keeps perking. In Forrester's recent survey of 2,700 business decision-makers in 13 countries, 8 percent reported that their company was currently using ECEM software, with another 5 percent planning implementation in the next 12 months.

That level of interest about matches up with my experience taking inquiries from Forrester clients, at clip of 1 or 2 each week, who are looking to move off of Excel and onto a true system-of-record for managing energy usage and carbon footprint.

One of the things that buyers struggle with is the sheer numbers of potential suppliers in this market. We are long way from a "Big Six" or "Final Four" set of vendors that one finds in the more mature categories of enterprise software.

Instead, buyers are confronted with 70+ suppliers, ranging from giants to start-ups, coming from different angles of attack, and with very different visions for what ECEM software is and how it will be used. Building off of my last post on this topic, there have been several new developments over the last month or so on the ECEM supplier landscape:

1. Infor buys ENXSuite

Infor is expanding its suite of enterprise applications via the acquisition of ENXSuite, which we regarded highly as an ECEM vendor. In a nutshell, Infor will add ENX's top-down approach to setting and monitoring enterprise energy policy with its long-standing customer base in enterprise asset management (EAM).

In doing so, Infor will seek to move upwards in its customer organizations from the operations and maintenance folks who are its traditional EAM buyers to the c-level execs that are the more typical buyer for ECEM systems. To do so, Infor will start immediately to forge relationships with consulting, energy services, and system integration firms.

Beyond integration with EAM, Infor is setting its sights on product lifecycle management (PLM) as the next frontier for energy & carbon monitoring; we think that emphasis is well-placed and will give Infor a headstart on the next frontier of ECEM functionality.

2. Ecomnets enters with a focus on local & state governments

Ecomnets is a small but interesting consulting and systems integration company that is entering ECEM from a position in green IT and green data center services. As such, it will offer a combined software + services capabilities, including configuration, implementation, and training.

Even more interesting and potentially differentiating for Ecomnets, it will focus on what has been an under-served market niche: state and local governments. IT shops and operations managers in these organizations are often faced with compliance requirements but underequipped to meet them.

We are always pleasantly surprised when a new vendor deliberately turns away from the "Fortune 1000" multinational corporation market and instead zeroes in on an interesting sector that is somewhat off the beaten track. Our bet is that Ecomnets is small and flexible enough to serve these smaller customers profitably.

3. Enablon goes social

Enablon has found a place on most buyers' short list of potential suppliers with a strong focus on facilities, reporting & compliance and supply chain carbon footprinting.

Its latest move is to add a social layer to its ECEM software, a collaboration platform for customers to share best practices and connect with other sustainability professionals. This "Wizness" network adds content and services to Enablon's product focus. While we have not heard customers asking for this kind of functionality in their procurement criteria (ease of use, reporting tools, and customer references typically top that list), we do see social as an exciting and natural next step for all enterprise software companies and systems.

As Wizness moves through its public beta-test period and towards formal launch next Spring, we will be monitoring and participating to see if and how a robust community of sustainability professionals can be built on this dedicated (but vendor-neutral) platform.

When will we some real consolidation in this market? I've been anticipating that for 2 years now, while the number of suppliers has actually gone up. So I'll hold off on a more formal prediction; suffice it to say that buyers will have a plethora of choices -- and solid choices at that -- of ECEM systems supplier for a number of years to come.

What other trends have you seen out in the ECEM market? Is social the way of the future, even for technologies like carbon management? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or by email.

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