Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Understanding the true volumetric size of our new industry gets much deeper as we converge. Will biosensors that are tied to the security databases be part of our intelligent building control market? I certainly hope so. Who will do the necessary network knitting of the open protocol devices into a coherent strategy for the buildings?
Defining The Intelligent Building
Building Automation System
Ethernet Switch Selection
In James McHale’s “A Return To Growth” in this same IBT supplement, he talks about the revolution that is well underway, shaped by the convergence of building services with IT networks, and enabled by Web services and XML. Do any of us really understand the width, the depth, and the resulting volume of our potential market in this complex convergence equation?
DEFINING NEW MARKETS
The single most asked question I am asked as editor of AutomatedBuildings.com is, “How big is the intelligent building control market?” Although it is a very complex question, I always defer it by asking this second question: “What do you think is included in this market?” I am often surprised about what the asker thinks is the market. Although the equation was blurred in the past, it is even blurrier now as our industry becomes almost inseparable from the broad brush of the vague term that is information technology.
What do you think is included in our intelligent building control market for the future? Labour and component costs are shrinking with the advent of wireless and open protocols, which are turning controls into commodities. Although this is bad news for the control traditionalist, it brings a whole new marketplace of system integration services to our doorstep.
We are in for a radical change as our industry moves from being wire pullers to system and Web service providers. If traditionalists do not embrace these changes, they will lose their market share. Those that “get it” will experience phenomenal growth. In my “Building Automation” column from the January 2006 issue of Engineered Systems titled, “Virtual Value Vision,” I cited several examples of the radical changes our industry will encounter as we morph into these new markets.
Let’s start by discussing just what might be part of the new markets. An obvious part that comes to my mind is digital signage: the vision providing the virtual interactive interface of the future. Narrowcasting over this media will bring alive our interfaces with traditional building services. Who will be the supplier of this valuable service? Our industry has the wisdom of what clients and building interfaces require, but there are others that have command of the new technology. Obviously some cross-pollination will be necessary, but if we perceive that this is not part of our market, it clearly will not be.
What else might be a bit grey to our control traditionalist? What about the interfaces that will build on voice over Internet protocol (VOIP)? Who will determine how we use the inherited capabilities that come with the convergence to IT ways? This is just the tip of the IT iceberg, as this service connects to cell phones and hand-held data devices, all which transmit our services and information to millions.
Are you confused yet? Understanding the true volumetric size of our new industry gets much deeper as we converge. Will biosensors that are tied to the security databases be part of our intelligent building control market? I certainly hope so. Who will do the necessary network knitting of the open protocol devices into a coherent strategy for the building? That has to be part of our market, correct?
IDENTIFYING NEW PLAYERS
Will the virtual architect who uses IT systems and the correct underlying protocols to bring virtual value to the enterprise be part of our market? Will the affected community? Yes. What about virtual value mentors who will show us the available virtual systems and information so we can understand how to best use these new ways to provide our own optimized and personalized best virtual value? Surely they will be part of our industry.
As intelligent buildings evolve to intelligent communities and these communities become intelligent cities, intelligent electrical grids, and even intelligent countries, will our folks be part of this market? In my new world they are. Not all of these people are in our industry yet, but they will come and clearly redefine what our industry and our market is. They will come because the intelligent building control market is something everyone wants to be part of; it just needs to be redefined.
The Web will continue to lead the way with strong examples and models to follow for adding virtual value to everything in our industry. Most of the methods of presenting information now exist on the Web: on-demand video, sound, radio, news feeds, narrowcasting, PowerPoints, PDF, Flash presentations, etc.
Help me, and the industry in general, redefine what the intelligent building control market is.
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