Monday, 30 March 2009

Earth Hour - intelligence for the planet

I attended a Microsoft seminar last week and the subject of what’s in a name was discussed. Business intelligence is so much more than just business, isn’t it? It’s as relevant to business as it is to the public sector as to voluntary or charitable organisations. Business intelligence is for everyone – including, I believe, the planet.

You might have noticed that 28th March 2009 saw Earth Hour.

WWF asked 1bn citizens of the world to switch off their lights for one hour to show their concern. The campaign has generated a great deal of interest and support amongst those that care about the earth and the way we are treating it.

Yet I have to admit I was far from convinced. Yes, turning off the lights for an hour is fun and different. Yes, turning off the lights is a reminder of the enormous benefits we all take for granted with on-demand electricity. And yes, it was great to see so many people showing that they believe this issue is important.

But no, we are not debating the energy issue in a grown up way. No, people are not well informed enough about the alternatives. And no, I cannot understand why the most likely source of clean and efficient power is not higher on people's and politician’s agendas.

I guess I think the energy debate is a complicated one that affects all of us. But not all of us are being involved. At the same time as the government approves a new coal-fired power station, they also under-fund the best chance we have for clean and efficient fusion power that could be commercially viable as soon as 20 years from now – providing the right actions are taken. Yet very few people know about either decision.
As Earth Hours shows, however, they do care. They care passionately and WWF have done a wonderful job in highlighting the issue in such a fun way.

Business intelligence is about having enough data to make good decisions. Research has shown that business people make better decisions when they act on data, and not just intuition. So why are we driving the energy issue without the data? Just sitting in the dark for an hour isn’t going to help – we need better education and better information. We need intelligent data. Then maybe we will collectively make better decisions about how our children will keep their lights on.


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  2. What an interesting question. Let's see if we can get an answer to that one ....

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