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Two Steps to Accelerate Investment in the Smart Buildings Market

Casey Talon
Jul 03, 2019

Connected City 8

The concept of the smart building has been refined since its inception over a decade ago. It has expanded from focused approaches to automating and monitoring specific building equipment, to comprehensive integration and cohesive systems management. Despite 2019’s more prevalent use of enabling technologies and broader understanding of the concept and importance of integration, customers can be confused by the expansive menu of options and lack of standardization in the smart buildings market.

Understanding Customers

To dive deeper into current customer perspectives, Navigant Research worked with Intelligent Buildings LLC, Anixter, and UL to launch the inaugural State of the Smart Buildings Market Study. The research included an online survey of 500 decision makers across North America which gathered demand side perspectives shaping the outlook for the evolving smart buildings market. The research done for this study validates that having a formalized smart building investment strategy and execution plan is a competitive differentiator for building owners and managers, but also underscored the challenges that have limited mainstream adoption.

Navigant Research showcased this study at this year’s IBCON in Nashville. I reflected on our findings on Conference Live at the event. Over 175 technology and service providers showcased their offerings in the expo hall and over 100 education sessions explored key issues shaping both 2019’s market and its outlook. Two key steps can help accelerate investment in the smart buildings market based on our ongoing research and the discussions at IBCON.

  1. Get the Use Case Right
    Vendors will be unsuccessful in winning new customers if they promote their solutions on technical innovation alone. There is a natural propensity to showcase new solutions and the advancements in product design. For customers bombarded by options, this strategy falls short. Customers need to understand they are being introduced to a solution for their foundational business challenges. It is important to explain why technology is a better approach to the status quo, but positioning matters. Respondents to the online survey for the State of the Smart Buildings Market Study were asked to rank the number one justification for smart building investment—29% chose reducing operational expense, and 28% chose decreasing operational risks. These findings suggest vendors will be successful if they can first align their solution with these two challenges and then articulate how their solution is more effective than alternative approaches.
  2. Prioritize Change Management
    Smart building enabling technologies such as controls, sensors, and analytics continue to evolve, but the real digital transformation of the business of operating buildings requires changes in decision-making and roles and responsibilities. Smart building success rides on collaboration between previously siloed business units with IT and operations teams at the center, but a growing list of stakeholder representatives should be brought to the table including the C-suite, human resources, sustainability, and energy executives.

Players Should Act Now

The bottom line for building owners and managers is that their competition recognizes the value of smart building solutions and investments are underway. Now is the time to begin the smart building journey. Selecting the right partners will ensure customers invest in the best solutions to meet their goals and future-proof their buildings for digital transformation.