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Are Intelligent Buildings the Automated Vehicles of Real Estate?

Casey Talon
Jul 11, 2017

An interesting point-counterpoint discussion erupted during a recent panel discussion at the IBcon conference. The topic was intelligent buildings, and I was moderator. One of the vendor panelists drew the analogy between intelligent buildings and automated vehicles, which became quick-start fodder for a counter idea that increased intelligence may drive buildings, but where? This banter stuck with me. I see two reasons why we need to keep focused on the drivers of commercial buildings to realize the full benefits of the intelligent technology opportunity.

#1: Investment in Technology Must Direct Action

Forget about connecting everything—that is not what this is about. Instead, understand the business pain points, leverage what is already there and invest wisely. As the Internet of Things (IoT) retains its buzz, there is a tendency to focus on how to connect everything. But the biggest bang for the buck won’t come from connected toasters and refrigerators in office kitchens. It is important to stay focused on the customer’s perspective—what are they trying to improve in their facility operations, and how can intelligent building solutions drive cost-effective change? In my ongoing research and throughout conversations at events such as IBcon, I have heard the importance of delivering actionable information, not just more data. Solutions that deliver concise, actionable insight will be the winners in the race for leadership in the intelligent buildings market.

#2: Technical Advisors Should Be Program Partners

The intelligent building requires a new information technology skill set for operators defined by their mechanical expertise. The intelligent buildings market has developed around the idea of IT/IoT convergence, but there are still silos in most organizations. Opportunities exist for technical advisors to form partnerships to help managers implement programs that transform a commercial facility, campus, or portfolio into more intelligent buildings.

Platform Builds Partnerships

At IBcon, the conference floor was chock full of technology partners demonstrating intelligent buildings offerings. The IoT platform approach to optimizing commercial buildings requires partnerships in today’s market. There is no single vendor that can provide an end-to-end solution with the technical, service, and domain expertise necessary to support commercial buildings customers. Ideal partners bring together cybersecurity, integration, energy management, and facilities maintenance expertise alongside customer services, which can support the customer journey. Navigant Research found that, as commercial building owners and operators begin investing in IoT solutions, they look for partners that can scale solutions over time, offer longevity and pragmatism to utilize existing infrastructure and technology, and direct strategic ongoing investments.

The future is bright for IoT in the commercial buildings market because the infrastructure of data and connectivity is delivering the kind of insights customers demand to redefine the experiences in their facilities. Navigant Research suggests that, as the market matures, those vendors offering cost-effective solutions that are secure, scalable, and deliver actionable insight will win the leadership position in this rapidly evolving marketplace. For more on Navigant Research’s outlook on the market, read its recently published report, IoT for Intelligent Buildings.