January 2014

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2014. Trends to Keep Your Eyes On

They are in no particular order of significance, and by no means capture all of the trends that are affecting our industry.

Marc Petock,
Vice President,

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2014 is sure to be an interesting ride. While it is never easy to predict with certainty what is likely to happen, I believe as we prepare for 2014 there are some trends that will impact our industry and we should keep our eyes on.

Trends to Keep Your Eye OnIn looking at the changes we’ve seen in technology and the evolving demands of the market that have taken place in our industry over the last several years, combined with the ones taking place now, I believe we will see unprecedented growth when it comes to anytime, anywhere, real time information and business intelligence that further drives the way we manage and operate facilities. Also the industry will continue to shift in how facilities are managed being driven not just by the technology side, but by the business side. As a result, we are experiencing a shift in the value equation, moving beyond the important goal of energy efficiency to a more holistic view encompassing overall performance of buildings and their increasingly sophisticated equipment systems as assets to be exploited for increasing value to the business’s bottom line.

The architecture of intelligent systems will continue to collapse as more devices directly connect to IP networks. The result being more direct and streamlined connectivity between systems and decision-making. This is driving increased collaboration across the business functions which represents potentially the greatest opportunity to transform our industry. And it's not just the economic factors that can be captured with simple ROI calculations; it's a combination of the economics, and the rising expectations of building owners, operating management and the users who increasingly live in a technology environment that is more advanced than their building systems.

So here are 10 trends (+1) to watch in 2014. They are in no particular order of significance, and by no means capture all of the trends that are affecting our industry.

#1. Disruption. Disruption will continue (in a good way).  Advancements in technology have long been considered great disruptors. Combine the current advancements and new developments in the pipeline by technology providers with the changes taking place at the business level, the impact of collaborative communities working across the historic boundaries of individual product manufacturers and the result is continued and accelerating transformation of our industry. The way control systems are built and distributed will continue to evolve with seamless system-level data sharing and device-level application enablement.

#2. Cyber Security. Cyber threats and vulnerabilities will continue to make headlines and yes, within our industry. Cyber threats against the facility environment are becoming more frequent and increasingly sophisticated and our systems and devices are targets of and vectors into the network. Our building protocols were never designed or built with security in mind.  Protocols communicating with BAS/EMS have their origins in serial communications and provide little, if any, security. The unfortunate truth is that these protocols do not possess a robust security framework that can deal with today’s real world intrusions and breaches. BAS/EMS cyber threats and risks are real and will continue to invade these systems; more vulnerabilities and pitfalls will be identified and attackers will step up attacks against these pitfalls. That doesn’t mean that security can’t be dramatically improved. Better understanding of points of vulnerability, increasing oversight, and proven IT industry security technology provide viable methods of reducing risk. Cyber security will be on the agenda of more CEO’s and they will be demanding accountability, asking what’s being done, and mandating additional measures to mitigate risks.

#3. Apps. 2014 is likely to be a year where more and more apps are created to meet the needs and expectations of end users. The advent of an “app” model, which can run on “bring-your-own” devices, adds value to the way we manage and operate buildings. Smartphones and tablets have changed the mindset of how we go about almost all of the tasks of daily life and shifted applications out to the edge leveraging cloud-based functions to transform system architectures. From an application perspective, apps will continue evolving to resemble consumer experiences and focusing on flexibility, speed, ease of use, intelligence and value. The development of applications is moving at a fast pace providing facility managers and building owners with a wide range of choices. The range of choices though may actually become a barrier as organizations struggle to approach facility management from the perspective of specifying and pre-designing everything their teams utilize. This is at odds with the world of apps where I can choose to download and try out an app to see if I like it without waiting on approval from some higher level. Applications will be a catalyst to drive increased value creation for BAS. Value creation will not only come from the applications themselves but through their integration with one another and how they are managed together.

#4. Data. The data journey will continue and in fact accelerate. While there’s still a way to go from where we are today to deliver on the total vision of a data-enabled building enterprise and using data as actionable information, 2014 will be the time where data oriented management tools see dramatic increases in adoption. 2013 saw numerous high-profile proof points for the value of using data to better manage facilities. It’s a trend that is here to stay. The value of data is in the insights derived using the analytic tools. These tools can be used with batches of historical data, or with real time data. Acting on instantaneous and predictive analysis of rich data will become the norm. There are challenges to applying analytics. The biggest being the need to combine scattered data sources. Industry groups like Project-Haystack are working on standards and tools to simplify this process. Over time we will see an increase in “open data” that includes necessary semantic information to enable it to be automatically consumed by different applications. Standardization of naming and tagging conventions and taxonomies, data models for building equipment, and operational data for energy, HVAC, lighting, and other environmental systems will enable dramatic reductions in the costs of utilizing data for improved facility operations. Enhancements to data technology will continue evolving, but the issue of data ownership will still be debated and have to be figured out.

#5. Cloud. With more smart devices comes more data. This creates new challenges for managing that data and make sense of it. To meet this need, cloud architectures will continue to go from experimentation to deployment. We will move from hype and promise to true deployment to improve the exchange of building automation system data. In addition, SaaS momentum will continue.

# 6. Collaborative communities will continue to accelerate innovation, new developments and create simpler and more advanced experiences for users. These groups and open collaboration are driving a fundamental shift in how technology is created, deployed and consumed and represent an opportunity for us to move away from the status quo and engage in the next wave that will shape and change the way we do things. From being misunderstood as threats, collaborative communities are increasingly being celebrated and encouraged - as they should be. It is a great thing for our industry.

#7. Acceptance of New technology. 2014 will mark a period of greater acceptance by building owners and operators to deploy technology and practices that improve and drive building performance and efficiencies. Many buildings are hamstrung by BAS technology that is effectively a decade old, limiting operators ability to take advantage of energy and cost saving strategies. Relying on a loose federation of siloed applications and disconnected manual tasks to support, operate and control facility operations is no longer practical or effective, and is starting to be apparent on the bottom line. As companies across every industry continue to be held to greater standards of accuracy, speed, and accountability, they will use automation to stay in line with market demands, compliance requirements and cost expectations.

contemporary #8. IoT – The Internet of Things. The IoT race is on and next year we will see more demonstrable evidence of the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming a field of its own. While most of us have moved beyond speculating about the value of connected devices, there are many out there who have yet to see it. Much of the technology needed for the Internet of Things (IoT) has been available for some time, but connecting a world’s worth of devices to the cloud, users and enterprise applications requires more than just an Internet connection. For IoT deployments to be successful, business models and pain points for players on both the device side and network side must be identified, followed by solutions that can collect and analyze data securely and efficiently. The IoT parade will continue to get larger with an increase in players joining the parade line including more IT and consumer industry players. With a level of saturation and the ability of devices to coordinate actions through a constant exchange of data, the promise of automating most of life’s mundane tasks and proactively responding to anticipated needs will have a transformative effect in the expectations of society as a whole.

# 9. Device to Enterprise---Devices that connect directly to the enterprise will accelerate. These new devices will be smarter, more powerful, offer higher levels of functionality with enhanced embedded systems software; present direct to cloud capabilities, and will become less dependent on middleware. In many cases they will bypass the brittle infrastructures of conventional BAS to give users more immediate solutions to their needs. The BAS will not be the “clearing house” for all data and activities related to facilities management.

#10. IT Involvement.  If there’s ever been a role that’s changing quickly, it is the role of IT as it relates to building management systems and facility operations.  It was not that long ago when our technology and systems were viewed as a necessary evil and received only the most basic attention and resources from IT. This is changing and 2014 will be a year in which IT’s role will accelerate. Several influences are driving this including the continuation of convergence; transformation of our technology and systems to full-blown IT systems resulting in different data and operational requirements; the network as the conduit that allows information to flow between the BMS/EMS, the enterprise and the outside world; the importance of building management and control both operationally and strategically to an organization; IT’s increasing role to reduce energy consumption at their companies, cyber security; and finally, the wall separating facility and IT is starting to come down.

#Plus 1. Riding Off Into the Sunset. Like the Wild West days of the Internet (you remember them don’t you) where companies appeared overnight and it was fashionable to offer technology that really provided little to no value and caused a great deal of market confusion. We have seen the same when it comes to energy management. 2014 will be the time where we will begin to see the disappearance of some these companies into the sunset.

Perhaps 2014 will be the year for these efforts to begin to shake themselves out, into those that can prove their value. It will be an exciting year for sure; enjoy the journey.


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