This time they really mean it: software saves you money

In the past there's always been the hope that newer, better software systems save money for the enterprise customers. Sometimes it seems to work that way.

In the past there's always been the hope that newer, better software systems save money for the enterprise customers. Sometimes it seems to work that way. Spreadsheets sure beat the hell out of the old-fashioned hand-typed data charts and the pocket calculator. But it's not clear that computerized phone trees really are better than human phone operators. It just shifts the wasted time from the call receiver to the poor caller who has to duel a mindless phone tree. So the waste has been shifted to the caller instead.

Well, there's plenty of promise in the software world about making business operations greener and more efficient. With that in mind I talked to the CEO of PeopleCube, John Anderson. I'd earlier blogged about PeopleCube's research into business needs pertaining to office efficiency.

Anderson presented a startling number that should frame our conversation. In major business cities of the world, Beijing to London, the average cost for a single office cubicle is $24,000 per year. And costs won't get less just because the dollar sinks another 1%. That's water, light, heat, cleaning, taxes, etc. etc. etc. A hundred-employee company then is running up costs of nearly $2.5 million per year. What if you could halve that? Even reduceit by 15%? Anderson says that's a possible in many workplaces. Walk around the office mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Often half of the work spaces are empty. Lights on, taxes being accrued--you get it.

So PeopleCube feels like they're riding the wave. Growth of office efficieny software sales is double digit annually. Anderson points out more and more companies are using VOIP for conference calls, with shceduling and hook-ups handled by software. Modern teleconferencing, telecommuting and workspace sharing are all made smoother and efficient with software systems. In addition, Anderson points out, bandwidth costs are dropping along with costs of the necessary software and services. He even sees more businesses using the teleconference over the airplane trip for multiple workers.

Anderson's a huge believer in hotelling which is used by large banks and small start-ups. Think $24,000 dollars every time you eliminate a separate work space. Think even more savings if you reduce needed space from four floors to two or three.

In addition to getting a smaller carbon footprint, Anderson says a company should be able to save 10-15% of total real estate and builidng-related costs by using current scheduling software.

Here's how PeopleCube describes their new software version: "Resource Scheduler includes several new reports that focus on effective resource utilization. For example, a space utilization and savings report helps facility managers understand the total carbon footprint, calculate cost savings relating to conference space, and identify additional savings that might be gained by integrating Resource Scheduler with internal systems such as HVAC and presence-detection devices.

"A telecommuting analysis report helps facility managers plan for office hoteling occupancy and calculate carbon emissions saved when employees telecommute instead of drive to the office. Similarly, a videoconference savings report illustrates cost, productivity, and carbon emissions saved when geographically dispersed participants conduct meetings via video teleconference instead of traveling to meet in person."

And promised soon: an add-on that will provide carbon footprint data for the company, and even personalize it so each worker can see what he or she accounts for in real time.