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Outsmarting the Weather: Innovative Multi-partner Collaboration Uses Weather Monitoring Stations To Benefit Communities, Schools, and Government Agencies

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Thursday, June 18, 2015

A National Grid and Earth Networks collaboration made it easier for United States Postal Service workers in New England last winter to adhere to their motto: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. In theory, that is. The innovative vendor-relationship-turned-alliance won them the ASAP Individual Alliance Excellence Award at the March ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Orlando, Florida.

Utility National Grid needed a better way to determine where electric asset damages could occur before a storm hit its service territory in Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. The utility developed an industry-leading predictive storm damage model with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and purchased the historical weather data for the model from Earth Networks. The companies partnered in 2013 to create additional weather stations in areas where they did not exist, and National Grid donated 55 stations to police and fire departments and local schools. In addition to creating a unique math and science teaching tool for children, the initiative program provides town emergency personnel with local information to determine whether to sand roads, cancel school or sporting events, and/or determine the location of dangerous squalls or lightening in the area.

“As severe weather becomes more and more common in our communities, access to real-time, local weather information is increasingly important for preparation and response to major storms and emergency events,” explains Eliza Davis, lead program manager of alliance and vendor strategy at National Grid.  “The weather station data serves as another source of on-the-ground information as National Grid teams decide where to place utility crews and assets. The data also helps towns decide when it is safe to send police and fire crews to respond to emergencies and outages.”

Over a 20-year period, Earth Networks has grown a labyrinth of 10,000 weather stations worldwide, each of which provides data every two seconds. “This data and all historical weather data from the stations are being fed into the predictive storm damage model to better understand how specific weather attributes contribute to asset damages. Overall, the WeatherBug weather data has driven a 50 percent improvement in the accuracy of the model,” says Davis. 

For Earth Networks, the collaboration is both financially and educationally beneficial—not only for local school children but for its meteorologists. “The collaboration gave them the ability to see more of the widespread winds and precipitation in the New England region, especially in upstate New York, where there are very few weather stations. Some 24 new weather stations were installed in New York as part of the collaboration,” says meteorologist Dennis Stewart, senior account executive of energy solutions at Earth Networks-WeatherBug. “Meteorology is all about data. The increase in the collective data has helped significantly with forecasting severe weather and has been proactive in storm preparations with disasters,” which sometimes involves federal agencies.

Community members can download the free WeatherBug app on their phones to access their town’s current weather conditions, forecasts, emergency notifications, and even pinpoint local lightning strikes. Many of these towns previously relied on weather data from 20 miles away.

 “The utility industry faces significant challenges as we plan for the effects of increasingly severe weather on the assets that deliver power to our customers,” Davis points out. “In addition, regulators and stakeholders are encouraging utilities to collaborate with other companies in the energy service industry to animate markets, achieve efficiencies, create new revenue opportunities, and deliver greater value to our customers. Through the WeatherBug Initiative, National Grid is leading the effort to improve storm preparation and response while demonstrating our ability to partner for the benefit of our customers and the utility industry.” 

Tags:  Dennis Stewart  Earth Networks  Eliza Davis  energy service industry  Massachusetts Institute of Technology  meteorologists  National Grid  severe weather  Utility  weather stations  WeatherBug 

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When Strange Bedfellows Become Prolific Partners: How a Collaboration Between a Major Company and Nonprofit Resulted in Improved Business and Conservation Performance

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A collaboration between The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy has proven that sometimes strange bedfellows can be prolific partners. The odd pair won the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the 2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Orlando, Florida, for creating an environmental protection framework with a methodology for identifying and measuring (or valuing) tangible benefits of ecosystem services to integrate into corporate decision-making processes.


Conceived in 2010, the unusual $10 million alliance between the major company and renowned conservation nonprofit involved significant funding for scientists to design a practical application of ecosystem services valuation in the business context. The result is a viable plan for significant change in corporate practice that can be used as a sustainable model.


 “Bringing together TNC scientists and Dow engineers has generated new ideas that neither company would have come up with on its own,” explains the project manager, Beth Uhlhorn, of the unique partnering value. “More broadly, the structure of the collaboration is also something that can be applied at other companies.”


The partnership is also developing an Ecosystem Services Identification and Inventory tool (ESII, pronounced “easy”) to help companies roughly estimate the business value from nature on and abutting their site, as well as the public value from on-site lands. “As ecosystems degrade, nature is critical to the bottom line,” says Jim South, Dow collaboration lead for The Nature Conservancy, about the unique collaboration. “This collaboration has allowed us to work with one of the world’s largest companies to see how to incorporate nature’s value into business decisions.”


“For decades, The Nature Conservancy has recognized that the private sector has an important role to play in advancing our conservation mission,” he adds about their purpose in the partnership. “Businesses around the globe, such as Dow, can and do have significant impacts on the lands and waters that people and nature rely upon for survival. If we fail to engage the private sector as they seek to become more environmentally sustainable is to miss an opportunity to create substantial conservation gains around the world.”


Dow approached TNC in 2010 as part of its decade-long 2015 Sustainability Goals, which focus on biodiversity and ecosystem services where the “natural” infrastructure is considered alongside traditional counterparts in business operations. Its goals are more than a philanthropic gesture—the company considers it a long-term philosophical shift. More recently, the Dow/TNC collaboration contributed to Dow’s “Valuing Nature” goal as part of its 2025 Sustainability Goals: The company has committed to screen all capital, real estate, and R&D projects for their impact on nature and to identify $1 billion in value (measured by NVP) associated with projects that are good for the company and ecosystems by 2025.


“We realized we were chronically undervaluing critical ecosystem services, and therefore not making the best business decisions possible—particularly where utilizing ecosystem services would provide a cost benefit or other advantage over conventional means,” Uhlhorn says.


For example, before the Dow/TNC partnership, Dow constructed a wetland to treat wastewater at the Dow Seadrift Operations facility in Texas instead of a traditional wastewater treatment plant. The wetlands resulted in a $39 million savings in initial capital investment, as well as more than $200 million of NPV benefit over the traditional solution.


Much of the work in the collaboration has been site-specific research, but with the release of Dow’s Nature Goal, “we hope that other companies will follow Dow’s lead in embedding the consideration of nature in decisions across their company and that we can work with them to help implement similar efforts,” South says. “Since the beginning of the collaboration, we have shared our experiences publicly so other companies, scientists, and stakeholders can test, apply, and benefit from our work.”


For more information on Dow's sustainability collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, see the annual Dow/TNC collaboration reports and joint peer-reviewed papers. 

Tags:  collaboration  conservation  conservation mission  Dow Seadrift Operations  Dow/TNC collaboration reports  ecosystem services  Ecosystem Services Identification and Inventory  environmental protection framework  sustainable model  The Dow Chemical Company  The Nature Conservancy  valuation 

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Partnering Strategies to Accelerate Growth in the Internet of Things

Posted By Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP | Phoenix Consulting Group, LLC | Founding Principal, Tuesday, May 26, 2015

For some time we’ve been hearing that Internet of Things is coming.   Well it’s here!

There are many examples that we probably don’t think much about.  Beyond our personal devices: smart phones, watches, Fitbits and all, there are a growing number of consumer appliances and industrial devices now connected into the network.  Do you own a NEST thermostat or smoke detector? On a larger scale, commercial and industrial buildings have networked their environmental, utility and security controls. The next progression is smart cities where all city assets are networked, monitored, and analyzed. This is just of the many applications of IOT that are evolving across many industries. By one estimate IOT will represent $14T of new value creation by 2020 with over 50-75 billion devices connected. 

At a recent Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP) meeting, we heard different perspectives on the evolution of partner ecosystems creating this connected world.   IDC, an analyst company calls this convergence of technologies resulting in IOT, the third platform succeeding the first platform, the mainframe and the second platform, distributed computing.  The third platform consists of Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud technologies, also known as SMAC.  

“The World has Changed, the Network has Not” asserted Mike Cuneo, Senior Director of Alliances at Brocade and one the ASAP panelists.  The Internet of Things with so many new devices and widespread data collection will create enormous demands on the network, on storage, on energy in fact the entire internet and computing infrastructure.  Mike also noted that we are not looking at merely one ecosystem of partners but many battling ecosystems providing different capabilities for different applications.  Much of this technology will be behind the scenes to the consumers of IOT, much like most of us don’t know where our electricity or water come from we just expect it to be there.  This will require a fundamental shift in the customer facing partners in the ecosystem.  The focus will be on the business conversation not the technology. 

Daniel Chang, Senior Director of Global Alliances at Salesforce spoke about how Salesforce is building an IOT platform and recruiting partners to develop IOT solutions. He used the example of how a connected washing machine might look to a consumer.  The manufacturer, using predictive analytics could monitor your machine and anticipate when there might be a breakdown, notify you while at the same time ordering the right parts and putting in the repair order. As with any big data conversation, this brings up the specter of privacy invasion. Do you want your home appliances spying on you? Some people might see this as a great warranty program and may even pay extra for the privilege of having their privacy invaded. Others may fear that here in California, your washing machine may rat you out for wasting water.   

Digital transformation driven by IOT technologies is on the agenda of every CEO according to Lisa Caswell, former CEO of eMeter and now an executive recruiter for Spenser Stuart.  But who owns this strategy?  Who is responsible for translating data and analytics into action?  How do you react to new business models that haven’t even been thought of yet?   There is no Chief of IOT. She remarked on the skills and talent landscape required to navigate this treacherous terrain.  It will require a pipeline of talent and remarkably, “the Alliance Manager is in the absolute best position to lead”. Some of the skills needed are: 

  • Ability to communicate complex concepts.
  • Having a customer orientation, keeping focus on the customer experience
  • Agility and adaptability, continuously learning, willing to take risks and enter ambiguous areas
  • Focus on contingency planning (things will go wrong)
  • Ability to lead cross-functional collaboration
  • Technical literacy, understanding value drivers, aware of cyber security issues

Lisa also advocates a cultural assessment for companies heading into this transformation.  Culture can inhibit or propel a company’s progress into this new world.  The successful culture will have less emphasis on authority and more on partnering and often partnering in the most unlikely of places.  

How does this all play out in the channel?  Sam Coyl, the CEO of Netrepid, a cloud service provider, has successfully transitioned his company from providing on-premise computing to cloud.  His data center is highly commoditized. He views hardware as expendables. His focus in providing reliable, on-demand, secure computing resources to his customers. Service providers should be asking customers how they access data and applications. What devices do they use? It is all about how they consume computing.  What does he look for in technology partners?  He looks at how well they have moved to support a consumption model.  There has been a shift in the channel and partner relationships from the large scale sale to a recurring revenue model.   This impacts business models, compensation models and incentives. 

Summary: With so much new opportunity  and the high risks of doing nothing, the savvy partner manager will step up to lead in this new future, forging new ecosystems that will position their companies to thrive in the Internet of Everything!

Tags:  Barcode  Daniel Chang  Fitbits  Internet of Things  IOT  Lisa Caswell  Mike Cuneo  Netrepid  Sam Coyl  SMAC  smart phones  watches 

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Official ASAP Announcement and Forthcoming Q2 Strategic Alliance Magazine Article Shine the Spotlight on 2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award Winners

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Think “rock star teams” with people “aligned and marching in the same direction” working to make significant contributions to society, science, sustainability, and corporate alliance management practices. That would be the winners of the 2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards, which were presented March 3 at the 2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, officially announced in an ASAP press release this week, and will be recognized in the soon-to-be-published Q2 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine. 

The 2015 recipients of the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards are: 

  • National Grid/Earth Networks for Individual Alliance Excellence
  • The Dow Chemical Company/The Nature Conservancy for Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Philips for Innovative Best Alliance Practice with honorable mention to Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals for Alliance Program Excellence with honorable mention to Bayer HealthCare
  • ASAP RTP Chapter for the Chapter Excellence Award 

The forthcoming Strategic Alliance Magazine article shares insights from a live Q&A session with the award winners. Moderator Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, asked recipients about key learnings.  At its core, our project “was about making decisions for all society. It moved us beyond basic philanthropy,” observed Elizabeth Uhlhorn, sustainability program manager at Dow Chemical. Dow and The Nature Conservancy received the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award for their partnership, which factors the value of nature into business decisions—a crucial step forward in fostering sustainability. 

National Grid won the Individual Alliance Excellence Award, which is given to a company that has excelled in planning, implementation, and results for a single alliance—in this case, with Earth Network’s weather monitoring equipment distributor WeatherBug. Asked what made their efforts awards-winning, “Our alliance delivered twice, first for National Grid to better understand where damage will occur.  Second, with community engagement and stewardship,” responded Eliza Davis, lead program manager, alliance and vendor strategy at National Grid. 

The awards “highlight some of the very best achievements in the industry and require hundreds of hours of work to qualify,” said Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP, while announcing the winners. “There were more applicants this year than ever before,” added co-presenter Annlouise Goodermuth, CSAP, director of alliance management, strategy, science policy, and external innovation at Sanofi. 

To learn more about and from the award winners, don’t miss the forthcoming Q2 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine—and read the full ASAP press release

Tags:  alliance management  ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  ASAP RTP Chapter  Bayer HealthCare  Earth Networks  Eliza Davis  Elizabeth Uhlhorn  Janssen Pharmaceutical  National Grid  Philips  Strategic Alliance Magazine  sustainability  Takeda Pharmaceuticals  The Dow Chemical Company  The Nature Conservancy  WeatherBug 

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A “Get Smart” Opportunity for Alliance Managers—ASAP Smart Cities Summit in Brussels to Improve Partnering Practices for Industries and Planners

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Friday, May 1, 2015

In the last decade or so, we’ve incorporated Smartphones, cars, appliances, and other technologies into our daily lives. Now this technology and planning are merging at a mega-scale to create Smart Cities to form the best combinations of the smarts. Alliance managers have a mega-role in this trend, and the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals has jumped on the bandwagon with a ASAP EU Smart Cities event, in Brussels, Belgium, June 12, at the Brussels44Center, where attendees will have the opportunity to learn how to create smart alliances from master planners and technology gurus to develop best alliances practices for the future.

Annick De Swaef of Consensa Consulting, president of the BeNeLux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) Chapter of ASAP in Brussels, and an ASAP EPP (Education Partner Provider) (see Q1 2015, Strategic Alliance Magazine, “Europe’s Alliance Evangelist,” Pg. 34) is on the cusp of this trend as moderator and local co-organizer of the event. “The purpose of the Smart Cities event is to bring together a variety of professionals involved in designing and implementing Smart Cities project consortia, alliances, and eco-systems,” she says. “The event aims to assemble different industries—from engineering and construction to telecom and technology.”

For more information and registration, visit .

The first global ASAP EU Smart Cities event of its kind will be attended by both international and local participants, as well as representatives from both large and small enterprises. The Smart Cities committee decided to locate the global event in Brussels because it’s the capital of the European Union and the European Commission and European Parliament are located at the center. The metropolitan is also home for many European agencies directly involved in Smart Cities programs across Europe. 

The event promises to provide some of the best Smart Cities experts in the industry, such as British architect and urban designer Kelvin Campbell, chair of Smart Urbanism, an open-source urban research and development organization; Dr. Henriette van Eijl, policy coordinator of the Directorate of “Innovative and Sustainable Mobility” in the European Commission's Directorate-general for Mobility and Transport (MOVE); Kim Möric, a renowned legal advisor in European administrative and public law, partner at DLA Piper UK LLP, and Chairman of the nonprofit organization “PPP Wallonie-Bruxelles: réseau de competences” (PPP Network).  For the schedule of events, visit . 

The European Union has launched an ambitious Investment Plan for Europe, worth €315 billion, to encourage investment in strategic projects, such as ones aimed at developing Smart Cities, De Swaef explains. “Different economic and societal challenges need to be tackled urgently in the coming decade in Europe. In one form or another most of these challenges relate to leveraging the existing housing, transport, energy, and digital infrastructure into sustainable drivers for growth and welfare. For ASAP, it’s the right timing to intensify the promotion of the alliance management discipline as a tangible added value for companies to participate successfully in Smart Cities initiatives across Europe.” 

ASAP sponsored two Smart Cities events in the United States last year in conjunction with Schneider Electric through the New England and Southeast Chapters. The global Smart Cities event is sponsored by ARCADIS, SAS Institute, and Schneider Electric.

The cost to attend is €200 for ASAP Members, and €450 for non-members click here to register today. If non-members join ASAP BEFORE registering for the event they will save €250 on their event registration.  Join ASAP online by clicking here or call Lori Gold, Director of Member Services at +1 781.562-1630 ext. 203.

Tags:  Alliance Management  alliance practices  Annick De Swaef  ARCADIS  ASAP EU Smart Cities  Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals  Brussels44Center  European Commission  European Union  SAS Institute  Schneider Electric  smart alliances  smart cities 

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