• Intelligent Building Technologies
  • Building Innovations

On the Hunt for IoT Dominance

Casey Talon
Jul 26, 2018

The intelligent buildings market has been around for about 2 decades. For much of that time, small innovative startups introduced new software applications and gained traction with the early adopter large enterprise customers. While often pilot projects, these market gains spurred major building technology companies to embark on a flurry of buying in the mid-2000s. It became clear that the integration of these nimble startups into the behemoth industry incumbents was no small feat. The significant distinctions in culture, development processes, and vision inevitably created challenges in retaining talent, maintaining innovation, and ensuring sustained growth.

The result of these pilot projects has been mixed. On one hand, today’s market-leading building technology incumbents are offering new incarnations of their core product offerings, enhanced with digital technologies and analytics. On the other hand, there remains a dynamic market of startups vying for customer dollars. However, the momentum behind Internet of Things (IoT) has piqued the interest of non-traditional major competitors from adjacent technology and services markets and activity across the traditional value chain, signaling movement toward mass-market adoption.

Learning from the Past

Two recent acquisitions by major building technology players suggest there may be some lessons learned from earlier days in the intelligent buildings market: retain the startup spirit of new subsidiaries. When Acuity acquired Lucid in February, the companies reported, “Lucid will continue to grow BuildingOS as an independent and open platform, and will continue to be led by current executives including CEO Will Coleman and Co-Founder Vladi Shunturov.” In June, Comfy announced its acquisition by Siemens, and the messaging was similar: “We will continue to operate—and grow—as an independent entity and vendor agnostic platform.”

It’s not only about the strategic integration of recent acquisitions, but also about a growing realm of partnerships opening the door to new business opportunities across the value chain. Distributors and resellers represent an important segment for shaping the mass-market adoption of intelligent building technologies. Recent moves in this segment underscore the momentum IoT is providing for the buildings industry. Yorkland Controls, a Canadian heating and cooling distributor, has announced a partnership with IoTium and SkyFoundry. A recent IoT Agenda article reports, “Yorkland Controls has lined up a series of key partnerships in areas like data analytics and secure IoT networking to carve out an offering in the space and to help its customers establish new lines of business.”

Reaching an Inflection Point

These recent moves across the value chain underscore the notion that the intelligent buildings market is reaching an inflection point. IoT is driving down costs, increasing customer awareness, and therefore removing significant obstacles to mass-market adoption. The face of competition is changing as openness, interoperability, and security become table stakes. Strategic partnerships and tech-agnostic offerings will redefine the relationships between technology and service providers and their customers.