Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wouldn't it be cool if…

As a teenager, I played a game with my friends called “Wouldn't it be cool if...” where one of us would pitch an idea for something oddball that didn't exist, and we would bat it around for a while, thinking of as many other cool things that we could do, if we had the first thing. Each of us tried to top the others' cool idea, without breaking the string of needing the first idea in order to make it happen.

Yes, I had very geeky friends. Of course, if we had patented any of the stuff we came up with, we'd all be stupidly wealthy now…

Lately, I've been playing that game again. 

You see, this little company in South Carolina said “It would be really cool if we had a database that covered electric rates across the United States.” Then they had the completely unmitigated audacity to say “Let's do it.”

Then they said “If we do this, let's do it right. No crowdsourcing, no wiki, just our own staff. Oh, and it has to be five-nines accurate.”

Remember that old story about how the Fred Smith (the founder of FedEx) got a C on his business school paper describing it, because his professor said it wasn't feasible?

Yeah. Like that.

They are doing it. Accurately. Consistently. Consistently Accurately. Of course, in all fairness, this company had been doing the same thing in telecomm since before the Bell breakup, so they had a pretty good idea what they were getting into.

So we started playing the game…
  • Building managers, architects and site planners comparing the price of building designs and retrofits to the dollars and cents on the electric bill.
  • Companies being able to compare building sites based on what it would cost to operate the factory in each location.
  • Driving your EV, and knowing that if you went ½ mile south that you could recharge for a few cents less per mile.
  • Companies with multiple buildings across the country knowing where to spend money on solar or wind to get the biggest return.
  • Architectural software that would be able to help a LEED architect show a customer the dollar value of energy efficiency, with real rates.
  • Researchers being able to see the real effect of different rate structures on electric usage, and finally know what effect rate structures really have on customer behavior.
  • ...

OK, now it's your turn. It exists. What would you create with it?

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