Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
|The Building Controls Sector Could
Learn A Lot From Personal Computing
As vendors, service providers, building owners and facility managers make their own conclusions, they would be wise to study the model set by the computer industry.
vendors see an opportunity to separate the hardware from the software
in building controls systems. Thus enabling a more robust technology
product to control the hardware that already exists in buildings,
according to senior smart buildings, IoT and energy product management
consultant, Joseph Aamidor.
In a recent article for Greentech Media, Aamidor highlights that “these systems are rarely integrated due to the cost and complexity of doing so” and that because most of the software control systems are sold with the hardware “building owners tend to upgrade the software only when they also upgrade the hardware”. Considering the clear and calculable benefits of building systems integration and the lifespans of hardware compared to software, building systems seem to be falling far behind their potential functionality on both counts.
Aamidor, who previously worked in senior management at Lucid and Johnson Controls, equated the situation to that of personal computing, where compatibility and upgradability have become central to functionality and value creation.
are a number of questions to be answered before this kind of change can
take place in the building controls sector. Questions about what is
easy enough and cost effective for consumers, as well as questions
about what works best for the sector. Aamidor sets out a series of
questions on the future of building controls:
“SERVICE-DRIVEN OR SELF-SERVICE OFFERING MODEL?”
line between vendor and service provider is often blurred in the
building controls space with companies traditionally acting as both.
However, some new firms are allowing customers greater access to their
data in order for them to maintain their own buildings. “While this
model is less capital-intensive, it does mean that busy facility
managers have to take on new responsibilities,” says Aamidor.
Whether the majority of building owners and facility managers will want the extra headache of dealing with data themselves, is yet to be seen. If such a model were to prevail you would expect improved generic software to become available, potentially opening up building data analytics to a much wider audience.
“ONE-TIME COST OR RECURRING SOFTWARE-AS-A-SERVICE?”
offerings in computing and other sectors have become much more common
in recent years, and the building controls space needn’t be different.
However, building owners will need more time to get used to paying for
their lighting or access control systems on a monthly or yearly basis.
Traditionally these costs would be a one-off outlay for owners but
there are significant advantages to recurring contracts.
“Recurring service contracts deliver an outcome, while recurring software licenses deliver information that can be used to achieve an outcome. While the recurring license fee model has been successful in many software markets (enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management software, for example), it has not yet disrupted the building management space,” explains Aamidor.
Vendors could perhaps do more to change the culture of one-time cost in building controls, but with the wave of “as-a-service” models emerging across the technology world, it seems only to be a matter of time before it becomes common for building software.
“INTEGRATED SYSTEMS OR NOT?”
of building systems is central to the concept of the smart building,
but as each control system is generally purchased from a different
vendor it is still not common. The majority of integration that does
happen, happens long after purchase and is often bogged down by
compatibility issues. It seems the only way widespread integration can
take place is through stronger and stricter standards.
“The open question is whether integration remains a custom engagement (which is costly and would limit the addressable market), or if most vendors will coalesce around industry standards (so that integration would be more efficient and cost-effective),” writes Aamidor.
“VENDOR PARTNERSHIPS OR NOT?”
the major building controls, security, lighting and elevator
manufacturers have been actively extending their strategic partnerships
to augment their integrated portfolios and keep abreast of building
performance software business in the move to the Building Internet of
Things ,” we said in our recent report The Market for Building Performance Software 2016 to
In his book, The Third Wave, Internet pioneer Steve Case describes the “need” for more partnerships between businesses focused on the “internet of everything” in order to deliver more compelling and valuable offerings. As yet, however, this has yet to fully take shape – we can and should expect much more in this regard.
It may be challenging to predict the outcomes to these points but considering the pace of change in IoT and smart building technology, we may not have to wait long before these issues rise to the surface. As vendors, service providers, building owners and facility managers make their own conclusions, they would be wise to study the model set by the computer industry.
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