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The Real Value of Digital Transformation for Commercial Buildings

Casey Talon — August 5, 2016

Home Energy ManagementThe Internet of Things (IoT) and digital transformation are hot topics that appear to be reaching a buzz, but there are practical implications for customers within these developments. The idea is that digital transformation and IoT deliver better information for comprehensive insight and management strategies. IoT is a platform of devices, communications, and analytics that creates a comprehensive picture of the commercial building. IoT enables a digital transformation of a commercial building that results in a data map that can be translated into vital information to orchestrate new business models for bigger revenue streams and a smaller risk to the bottom line. The generation of data from equipment operations and occupant behaviors married with weather and grid conditions help customers save money, minimize power outages, and maximize the occupant experience.

Data for Optimization

The intelligent building is defined by integrated controls and automation that optimize how space is used, how equipment is operated, and how behavior modification is directed because of insights garnered through software analytics. A pinnacle in optimization, the intelligent building maximizes the effects of capital expenditures, operations and maintenance management, and occupant engagement. This is all made possible by data. Today’s reality is that many buildings are far from data rich and, therefore, incapable of optimization. There is a major shift underway thanks to technology innovation beneath the umbrella of IoT.

IoT is about the proliferation of devices, the connectivity of systems, and the access to data. In the commercial building environment, this is a major shift that will redefine how buildings are operated. IoT is the foundation, the data platform that enables the digital transformation for unprecedented business value in corporate and commercial real estate. It is all about better information for better management. A recent survey by Dell highlights the customer perspective: “Investing in cloud applications, cloud infrastructures, mobile and/or IoT solutions to transform their businesses. By adopting these technologies, most companies hope to drive up employee productivity (75%) and grow their businesses (67%).”

The commercial buildings industry is known as a slower mover, but there is gaining momentum around digital transformation. Major technology incumbents, software startups, and even electric utilities are moving to promote solution adoption. A few interesting examples include:

  • Bala Ram, the vice president of SAP Labs, explained the growing momentum of digital transformation: “Across multiple sectors, whether it’s manufacturing, energy and natural resources, healthcare … there is a big awareness right now that we must use this sensor data to create new business opportunities, and then solve the existing problems.” Ram’s statement highlights that the pace of adoption may vary, but customers across the economy now understand the power of data.
  • IBM recently explained the benefits of digital transformation, stating that it will “help us to create buildings that can sense, respond, self-improve and communicate, putting them in far greater harmony with humans and the planet.”
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has announced $30 million available for Real Time Energy Management system implementation and services with Noveda Technologies for up to 5 years. “These funds will support the use of advanced technologies to help building owners fine-tune their building’s energy systems, identify capital projects to cut energy costs, and reduce operations and management costs by an expected 5% to 25%.”

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