COO/CIO/CFO, How Competitive Are Your Buildings?
By: Chris Saltz
Date: July 12, 2015
You’ve been avoiding the “bleeding edge” of smart building technology for 20 years, and rightly so. The building automation & energy management systems (BAS & EMS) were expensive, cumbersome, and did not provide the type of information that was actionable at the C-level. But with all of the “push button, cloud technology”, the day has come that you can’t afford not to run your buildings in a data-driven, proactive way with Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in a dashboard format. Some of your competitors already are. They will use this 10% to 30% improvement in OpEx to reinvest in competitive strategies. A Forbes article suggests the GDP growth associated with the “Internet of Things” will be “the largest in the history of humans” (article: http://sni.ps/GBP).
The price of BAS technology has come down drastically. You can completely automate your home for a few thousand dollars (Smart Things pricing: http://sni.ps/GBM; Wink pricing: http://sni.ps/GBk). So how do you get your organization there? Start by assigning a team (internal or external, depending on your availability of qualified resources), with the mission of providing you with a report on the current status of the technology in your buildings along with a road map for the future. The focus of the report is on “useful data”.
Useful data has a few important components. First, the data must be “open”. Be careful, as there is a wealth of misleading terms in the BAS industry. For example, “BACnet” and “Modbus” are terms that describe data languages (protocols). But are the vendors providing these BAS systems allowing the local marketplace to purchase their proprietary data tools to get at this data easily? And are there a wealth of firms, other than the BAS vendor, that currently have those tools and are trained in using them? Fact is, there are very few that can claim to have all 3 today (open protocol, open tools, and an established global support network of multiple firms in each and every market). Tridium, a Honeywell company, is one (www.tridium.com). So if you are not at this level of data access & normalization in your buildings, there will be some expense to get there.
Secondly, this paradigm shift (from proprietary BAS platforms to an open ecosystem of the “Internet of Things”, or IoT, in buildings) is more dramatic than the shift 3 decades ago from mainframes to client/server for data & voice applications. And if you recall, the new companies that emerged in the personal computer market did not exist before that shift but dominate your environment now. The same is already happening in the shift to IoT in facility-related technology. Knowing which firms will be relevant many years from now may be one of your biggest challenges. But you can find opinions on this subject that are not mine (here is one by Business Insider: http://sni.ps/GBf).
Lastly, as every facility control & monitoring device will now fully and completely move into your IT environment, you will need unprecedented collaboration between your IT and Facility departments. There are already twice as many facility nodes as voice/data nodes on your network…this will grow exponentially. But assigning a few IP addresses and helping facilities with IT security and other important network support will complicated greatly.
The well known smart building research firm, memoori, estimates that the global market for IoT in Buildings (BIoT) will grow from $23B in 2014 to $85B in 2020 (http://sni.ps/GBS). You definitely should ask yourself “what are all those other COO/CIO/CFO’s investing in, and how will it change my competitive landscape“?