Award winning manufacturer of IT-based building automation.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Deb Noller and Ken Sinclair
Deb Noller, CEO, Switch Automation
Sinclair: You’ve just introduced three new smart building software solutions. What drove you to develop them?
Noller: Since 2012, we’ve been working with enterprises in a variety of industries and they all have one problem in common: broken buildings. No matter the industry; retail, financial, grocery, commercial real estate, etc., they all suffer from inefficient operations stemming from lack of visibility into building performance. We realized early on that this problem doesn’t just affect the bottom line and the environment, but the enterprise as a whole. Consider these statistics:
Sinclair: Why are broken buildings such a hard problem to solve?
Noller: As an
individual, if you want to make a sustainable impact there is an array
of solutions to choose from no matter your budget. You can recycle
waste, bike to work, program your thermostat to use less energy when
you’re not home, use LED bulbs, drive a hybrid vehicle, install solar
panels and more.
Enterprise companies, however, have huge
real estate portfolios with hundreds or thousands of buildings that
often span multiple geographies. Each building within the portfolio is
like a snowflake with its own systems, equipment and sensors that vary
in age and performance. Factor in the recent wave of new Internet of
Things (IoT) technologies collecting vast amounts of data and you’ve
got a hypercomplex landscape of solutions that are extremely hard to
are so many different industries and companies affected by this
problem. How did you incorporate that diversity into your solutions?
Noller: We spent years
listening to our customers to truly understand the pain these broken
buildings cause. Clients new to the smart building journey told us they
were overwhelmed by a marketplace filled with solutions that looked
similar but in reality had very different capabilities and features.
They were fearful of making the wrong choice, thereby wasting resources
and delaying positive results.
Customers with a failed smart building
initiative or two under their belts confirmed this fear. They told us
they wanted a solution tailored to their business that consolidates
siloed information into actionable insights without costly rip and
replacements or expensive customization later on.
We analyzed the effects of broken buildings at every level of the organization and developed our Building Management Hierarchy of Needs.
This led us to the realization that regardless of industry or portfolio
size, there’s a tsunami of disconnected data pouring into various silos
with no way to consolidate, analyze or leverage it for insights. Our
goal was to develop a scalable software platform that would meet
enterprises where they are in the hierarchy, grow in tandem with their
business and accommodate emerging technologies. So, we created
Portfolio Intelligence, Performance Optimization and Enterprise IoT.
Portfolio Intelligence fuels
effective building management decisions by saving time on data
aggregation and delivering unparalleled visibility into portfolio and
elevates building performance by pairing automated systems integration
capabilities with industry-leading analytics, machine learning and
user-configurable fault detection to enable real-time portfolio
Enterprise IoT is a holistic,
tailored smart building program that enables enterprises to enhance
building performance, streamline processes, lower operating costs and
provide an exceptional occupant experience by moving from reactive to
proactive to predictive maintenance.
Sinclair: What results have your clients experienced so far?
Noller: We’ve seen some
outstanding applications of the Switch Platform and they are a
testament to the innovative leadership at some of the world’s top
companies. For example:
Sinclair: What encouragement would you give to today’s innovative leaders as they embark on the path of optimizing building performance?
Noller: It’s helpful to
think of your smart building program as a journey. A successful journey
involves preparation and planning, not to mention choosing the right
people to accompany you. Each enterprise has their own unique starting
point, but no matter where that is in the Building Management
Hierarchy, it’s possible to dramatically optimize building performance
and multiply efficiencies across your portfolio.
Be sure to ask key questions
up front to avoid unexpected costs, delays and disappointment. For
example, is the solution cloud-hosted or on-premise? If it’s on
premise, prepare to spend time and money on future upgrades and
features. Is the solution proprietary or open protocol? If it’s
proprietary, you’ll be in for back-end expenses when making changes to
your portfolio down the road. Is it interoperable with other systems
and equipment? If not, you might close the door on future technologies
or risk costly rip and replacements. Does the solution come with
support? To fully reap the benefits of your smart building program, you
may want experts available to help with integration,
retro-commissioning, onboarding, training and building performance
analysis. Finally, in lieu of multiple pilots which divest resources
and are hard to compare side by side, consider a phased approach to
demonstrate ROI before making a large commitment.
If you’ve done your research, asked the
right questions and tested your solution on a representative phase of
buildings, you’ll have a solid foundation with proven results from
which to launch an effective smart building program.
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