It’s no secret that as our industrial needs grow, our needs to slim down production costs and impact do as well. And that’s no easy feat. Companies are well aware that natural resources like food, water, and energy are limited — and costly — and that they bear the burden of responsibility to understand the full gravity of how their business decisions impact resources.
But how do we analyze our business decisions to explore our impact? Where do we even begin?
Athena Intelligence, a data processing and visualization platform for the data of land, food, water, and energy, brings the Internet of Things to business to help explore this impact and to re-evaluate practices in decision-making and production in turn.
David Sypnieski, Founder and CEO of Athena Intelligence, is using the platform to provide a structural approach to behavioral change and business innovation. From his years of expertise in the gap between food systems and Silicon Valley, he’s worked to bring data and sustainability together in the industrial sector.
“We can’t build a smarter planet if we don’t have the data ready and available,” Sypnieski says.
Athena is built from this belief, and Sypnieski has helped to build a platform that allows businesses to aggregate data into visualized analyses to help make intelligent, data-driven decisions about resource use.
Through a series of processes whereby data is uploaded in sets, Athena presents a querying system that allows business data — production costs, availability of resources, and growth management, for example — to be structured in an easy-to-understand platform that can guide businesses to more sustainable practices.
Of course, businesses don’t run entirely on data sets — and to some, the presence of large data can be overwhelming. Athena knows solving this issue doesn’t come down to providing more or better data, but instead the ability to process existing data into useful information.
“That really is the heart of Athena Intelligence,” says Sypnieski. “We’re able to provide a dynamic context.”
The first issue that Athena solves for business is the inefficiency of data. And once users have seen its visualizations, they’re able to tackle the next issue: the questions that come from seeing the data in a processable format. For example, a company that aims to tackle water efficiency may learn that greenhouse gas outputs increase as a result of the machinery installed with the intention of sustainable practices. And that’s where Microsoft is helping.
Together with Athena, Microsoft is working to build an advanced analytics feature based on the Athena platform. Soon, businesses will be able not only to view and analyze their data on Athena, but also to use that data to predict future changes and productivity impacts and costs.
Sypnieski is looking to the future as Athena grows, to encourage businesses to consider operational strategy as a function of sustainable practice.
“I think the timing is right now,” Sypnieski says. “And it’s the convergence of a broad understanding that environmental changes and climatic changes are real, population growth and world demand is starting to feel it on a local level, and most importantly, shareholders are asking CEOs about their footprint.”
And as technology blends with cultural and systems experience, it’s up to us in technology — and the businesses that use technology — to bear that responsibility.
“Sustainability has evolved,” Sypnieski tells us. “It’s not necessarily an esoteric feel to it. It’s becoming an operational necessity.”
To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to environmental sustainability, head to the Microsoft Green Blog.