Three Lessons Learned on the Future of Smart Buildings from IBCON
Last week I attended Realcomm’s first IBCON in Las Vegas. This gathering of real estate professionals, information technology and building efficiency vendors represented major stakeholders in the Smart Buildings market. The presentations and discussions at this inaugural meeting provided valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities surrounding technology adoption and business transformation in the real estate industry.
Smart Building technologies promise significant energy savings and efficiency improvements for managing commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities. IBCON illustrated three key messages that must be understood and clearly communicated in order to promote widespread adoption of these technologies in the commercial real estate industry.
1. Understand all value generated by integrating Smart Building solutions.
Energy efficiency is only one value that can be derived from these technologies; recognizing and communicating operational values is crucial for accelerating the adoption of these technologies. Often the discussion around the development of Smart Buildings focuses on the energy efficiency improvements these technologies deliver. One lesson learned at IBCON is that if we hope to see broad adoption of Smart Building technologies, vendors and investment champions must understand and communicate how these investments will also deliver significant cost savings from improvements in operations and maintenance and business process transformation. The integration of Smart Building solutions is a multi-dimensional process from the logistics of bringing technologies online to the buy-in, commitment, and utilization of the solutions by the business team. The advanced automation and control capabilities of Smart Building solutions will expedite maintenance procedures, lengthen the useful life of key assets, and improve work order management.
These are just some of the operational changes that hold value for stakeholders in the building management process that may not see the value of the energy efficiency gains these technologies also support. It is important to recognize the full spectrum of benefits associated with Smart Building solutions to effectively champion their value and incentivize investment.
2. Communicate the value proposition in each stakeholder’s language.
Creating an array of messaging is another aspect of understanding the multi-dimensional impacts of integrating Smart Building solutions. From the Advisory Board meeting first thing Tuesday until the last conversations on Thursday, the question around who the ultimate decision-makers is for deploying Smart Building solutions was a recurring debate.
Transforming a facility into a Smart Building requires significant investment in both technology and evolving business processes. The task is truly comprehensive and will require the buy in and commitment of a team of stakeholders. If real time adaption and optimization is the defining characteristic of a Smart Building as IDC Energy Insights asserts, then the process of transformation will impact the IT department, operations, as well as the C-suite. This is a dynamic evolution of systems and processes and as a result, no single decision-maker can choose to develop and succeed in adopting Smart Building solutions.
While there are certainly champions that promote the value of Smart Buildings and decision-makers that sign the check, all stakeholders whose business processes will be intimately impacted by Smart Building technologies must believe in the value and commit to the process of transformation in order to ensure the facilities are completely evolved into optimized Smart Buildings. The messages must explain how Smart Building technologies deliver cost savings for energy management, new efficiencies in operations and maintenance, as well as how these changes drive toward business goals such as CSR, GHG reduction, or sustainability. Messaging must incorporate the dynamic impacts and values associated with Smart Building technologies and services and include clear language that expresses value in terms that speak the language of stakeholders across the business.
3. Analytics & Data management is central to successful deployment and utilization of Smart Building technologies.
Once the business team has committed to the process of facility transformation, it is crucial that there are effective tools in place to monitor energy and operational improvements and verify the impacts these changes have on the business’ bottom line. Effective analytics and data management tools are paramount to the success of a Smart Building solution deployment.
The economics of the investment and the return on the investment will shape the trajectory of technology adoption. Analytics and data management tools can be a key enabler in promoting Smart Building solutions because they provide heightened visibility into asset operations, energy consumption and efficiency improvements both in terms of energy and business processes.
IBCON was an exciting event highlighting key questions, opportunities and challenges of a market in transformation. I look forward to watching how key players from the real estate, information technologies, and building technologies industries approach the challenges we explored at IBCON, and facilitate the adoption of Smart Building technologies.
Image Credit: Chesky/Shutterstock
Casey Talon is a Senior Research Analyst at IDC Energy Insights. She leads the group’s Smart Building Strategies research advisory service.
Ms. Talon's research efforts focus on Smart Building technologies and the associated policy, regulatory, and business developments driving this market. She also collaborates with other IDC Energy Insights analysts on custom research and client ...
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