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Big Blue wants to help you get green, for a fee.
On Monday IBM (NYSE: IBM ) unveiled a consulting practice called "Green Sigma" that will assist clients with reducing energy and water usage. As with all of its services, IBM will differentiate itself from Accenture (NYSE: ACN ) , BearingPoint (NYSE: BE ) , Infosys (Nasdaq: INFY ) , Satyam Computer (NYSE: SAT ) , and peers via its in-house innovations - in this case, networked sensors and data analysis software.
Think of it as the continuation of Big Blue's Big Green initiatives, which made headlines here last March. Foolish colleague Jack Uldrich all but predicted Green Sigma in reporting on Big Green. Quoting:
Big Blue can also make serious inroads by equipping businesses with sophisticated networks of sensors and software to help manage electricity more efficiently. On a larger scale, the company could apply the same expertise to make the U.S.' aging electricity grid operate more intelligently. [Emphasis added.]
That's almost precisely what IBM has planned. How much revenue might the practice create? Big Blue's pilot program has yielded $310 million in savings, according to News.com. Transforming that success into a repeatable process could take time, but I like IBM's chances. It understands that technology is at its most valuable when it addresses easily identifiable business problems. Webvan failed because not enough people needed groceries delivered; Google succeeded because users wanted fast web searches and didn't mind contextual ads.
Green Sigma is more Google than Webvan, I think. Carbon-obsessed regulators appear destined to set caps on corporate carbon emissions. When they do, Green Sigma will bring the ka-ching.
Or in simpler terms: To get green, they'll go with Big Blue.
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