According to a recent press release by the Environmental Business Journal (EBJ), the U.S. environmental industry grew 3.9% in 2014. Although the data will take another 10 months to come together for 2015, it’s fairly safe to say the sector saw growth again last year as the economy held steady.
EBJ reports on 14 business segments divided into three categories, all three categories showing upward trends in 2014.
The largest single growth area in 2014 was a double-digit gain in environmental software and information systems.
The industry has seen many environmental, health, safety and sustainability software vendors disappear as quickly as they appear, but every industry sees the tech start-up side get red hot, cool off, and heat up again.
With evolving needs, evolving science, and evolving technology capabilities, it is not at all surprising that many start-ups struggle in this field.
Complicating matters is the fact that many of the customers that a software company in the environmental software and information systems field would need to acquire aren’t fluent in what they actually need to purchase (or how to use it).
Environmental reporting and data management systems are a lot like complicated legal matters or the tax code: companies likely need a specialist, and we haven’t reached a tipping point in the business community where enough companies have specialists.
Companies might buy a software license from a promising start-up with good software, yet not know how to actually collect the appropriate data and end up not using the tool to its potential. By the time they’ve got the team in place and are ready to ramp up, the software tool they’ve purchased needs an expensive upgrade because of changes in the science, regulations, or standards of sustainability reporting. You can see how the CEO might balk on a second wave of investment when the first wasn’t a huge success.
It’s not that start-ups are struggling in a silo, it’s more likely that we just haven’t reached a critical mass of companies with the in-house resources that can gain maximum value from a well-built environmental software tool. Combine that with with a standard of reporting that itself is a moving target, and it is really difficult to gain traction as a environmental software company.
If you know your company is ready to do begin sustainability reporting, but don’t have the in-house team to manage the software tools on the market, contact us. We work with leading software programs for tracking and reporting on environmental data, and help companies determine what might will for them.