From iPhone to iBuilding

– Smartphone Journey = Smart Buildings Journey?

How do we change this world for the better through the power of smarter buildings? How do we do it faster than ever before? What tools are necessary to speed up the rate of how we transform buildings, and who should be the intended user of said tools?

I love technology. For the ones that have read my previous articles, I think that’s quite evident. Building automation, as we know it, is becoming more and more digitized. IT/OT and soon IoT convergence where Facility IT and security is high on the agenda. I see real-life use cases with edge applications from Siemens, and well thought out articles from the likes of Zach Netsov at CC. Smarter technology and Open APIs are becoming the norm, and there is the trickle up-economy that is slowly taking place. Business2Business is the norm. But all of this is happening behind the scenes, unbeknownst to most people.

But I also know that technology in the whole scheme of things is a mere 1% of the solutions needed to create a sustainable future. And I don’t think solutions and products are hitting the market fast enough to provide the change we need. So, what do we have to do?

Is a Netflix Experience needed?

Or something else entirely?

Learning from history

The big question that I’ve been thinking about is if the real estate industry following the same path as the phone industry during the last 20 years?
If that’s the case, which companies will dominate the scene? Do we know about them, or are they still in a garage somewhere preparing to disrupt the industry as we know it? Will it be the big dragons that will turn existing buildings into smarter buildings, or will it be the “IT-companies” that will come in and raise the digital maturity faster than ever? 

Industry transitions and the possible future of Real Estate

Figure 1. Industry transitions and the possible future of Real Estate

Lowering the threshold of adoption through better design

The first iPhone was not ground-breaking in its technology. Far from it. The people at the R&D divisions at Ericsson as well at Nokia laughed at the technology, and the dozens of people I’ve talked to said it was nothing but crap in comparison to the technology inside the Ericsson phones and the Nokias at the time.
But that’s the thing. It’s not technology that will win this battle but instead something that is robust, useful and perhaps most of all, attractive. And it will most likely come from companies that have speed and urgency in their DNA with an organization that is flexible enough to be able to move with the times. Will it be an ecosystem play that will increase speed of adoption, or will it be ONE company that can take these myriads of technologies and solutions and create ONE bundle to rule them all?

The building buzz lifecycle, depicting emerging technologies and mindsets in the realm of building automation.

Figure 2. The building buzz lifecycle, depicting emerging technologies and mindsets in the realm of building automation.

MSI’s, Money, mindset, and technology to tenants

In between the old and the new, I see the MSIs. They stand on top of the traditional building automation world, knowing that they have conquered the past, and are on a path to command the future together with their customers. They see the future of IT technologies where they can go in, raise the digital maturity, and help owners and asset managers invite others to innovate with their buildings. But they are still struggling with the correct tools to do the job, and it still takes too much time to raise the digital maturity levels at scale.

Will, a construction company, become the new APPLE and actually build the first SmartPhone (Building) from scratch, and usher in a new era?

Even though this probably will happen soon, can we afford to wait for a trickle-up economy where the majority of existing buildings are left to their own demise? Will the change come from the MSI side of things or from the tenants? Will the digital twins, have their way in 2020, and what role should system integrators have in the future? Is there still a need for BACnet? What will make the real estate owners go all-in with digitization? Will we see widespread adoption of portfolio smartness without having technology spread by the tenants? Or is that the key to mass adoption?

I believe the only way this mindset will change is through tying any IT-investment into money. Either money saved or better yet, money made. Part in selling data, but also more traditionally where tech-companies learn the lingo necessary for real estate owners to throw money at technology providers.

I’m still a bit worried that the “apps” that are generated for buildings will become like apps we see in the smartphone market where most of us only use 10% of the apps we have. But at the same time, I see that the core of building automation will be exactly that, automated.

There are still many questions that need to be answered and probably even more questions that need to be asked. But until then, fail fast, learn fast, and, most of all, get out there and get started!

Panel discussions at the AHRexpo

Since there are so many questions, it’s a good thing that there will be education sessions at the AHR Expo next year and other exciting talks.

I’ll be partaking in two sessions.

  1. “Next Generation HVAC Controls: Open Discussion For Open Future” 
    This was a hit last year with a room packed to the rafters.
  1. Moderating a panel discussion on Monday the 3rd of February at 9.AM with fellow panellists;

Steve Jones,  Managing Partner at The S4 Group, Inc
Jason Houck, Hepta Systems, IoT Warez & CIO and Founder at EntroCIM
Troy Harvey, CEO at PassiveLogic
? Open for suggestion.
? Open for suggestion.

Topic not yet set, but there will most likely be an open forum about everything that is going on, enabling the audience to interact with the amazing panellists above,

There are still two more spots to be taken, and I’d love for a real estate owner to come on board if possible. If you have someone that you know of, please let me know!

Nicolas Waern
The Building Whisperer

Leave a Comment

    This will close in 20 seconds