Get all the news you need about Smart Buildings with the Memoori newsletter

Which research categories are you interested in?

“The ceiling has long been the domain of the light fixture but IoT savvy lighting firms realized that it is also the ideal place from which to sense an environment. However, by transforming their lighting services into an IoT offering, lighting firms have entered the unfamiliar world of IT and into in direct competition with IT vendors,” we wrote in a 2017 article titled: Traditional Lighting Firms Seize The IoT Opportunity.

“Now 100 year old lighting brands such as Phillips, GE, and OSRAM are rubbing shoulders with the likes of Intel, IBM and Cisco. They don’t have the same range abilities of course, but they are now playing on the same field; teaming up, complementing one another and in some cases competing for the same business,” the article continued with examples of lighting stalwarts Philips, Osram, and GE venturing into the IT space in a variety of ways.

This month, semiconductor design firm ARM Holdings has launched an Internet of Things (IoT) initiative to gather data about facility use. The UK-based, Softbank owned, Arm Holdings developed their ‘Space Analytics’ program to collect data from sensors, some of which may be positioned in lights, and send the data off for analysis and offer insights to building managers to help them optimize their facilities.

“Space Analytics securely gathers and analyzes data from off-the-shelf IoT devices (such as smart lighting, sensors, locks, IP cameras, badge readers) to deliver actionable insights and predict the availability of space,” ARM said in an interview with LEDs magazine. “Through the solution’s machine learning capabilities, we’re able to provide actionable data insights on space and resource usage, all of which work toward driving greater efficiencies and maximizing revenue.”

Lighting is the obvious choice, however. Its ubiquity around the building and across the built environment makes it the ideal plaftorm for occupancy and a range of other forms of sensing. Furthermore, the pitch for ARM’s new program aligns closely with what we have seen from major lighting firms like Signify (Philips Lighting), and Osram, among others. ARM acknowledged the potential for Lighting – IT competition in the Space Analytics space but played it down as a current reality.

“We can potentially [compete directly with the lighting industry],” ARM told LEDs magazine, but “we haven’t typically run into that to date.”

Direct competition is not the only way to claim a slice of the pie though; IT – Lighting partnerships offer another unfamiliar but logical route into the market. In 2017, Philips entered into a partnership with transmission real estate firm American Tower Company. Together they have been developing 4G and 5G enabled smart street poles.

“The alliance between the world’s largest lighting company and Boston-based American Tower Company marks the latest example of how the lighting industry is pushing hard into information and communications technology in order to secure a future that links lighting into IoT schemes,” explained LED expert Mark Halper at the time.

Just this month Osram has teamed up with Austin, TX-based Facility Solutions Group (FSG), a specialist in facility services and technologies. The companies said they “are joining forces to offer turnkey smart building IoT solutions to the commercial, industrial, and retail industries.” Despite its new Space Analytics program, Arm is not ruling out partnerships with lighting firms in some areas and competition in others, or “co-opetition.”

“We look at the lighting industry as a partner,” a company spokesperson said. “As we go into this space, co-opetition happens. While it might be that lighting partners might want to lead in some aspects, at the end of the day we can find business models where both sides can work together. It’s just coming down to that point of where do people land in the value, especially as they’re looking at new markets and at the way they’re trying to transform their business.”

Space analytics is a potentially lucrative emerging market that neither Lighting or IT companies will give up their potential stake in easily. Occupancy Analytics market in Commercial Office space achieved systems sales of $1.54 Billion in 2017, and are expected to rise to $4.60 Billion by 2022 growing at a robust rate of 24.5% CAGR, according to our comprehensive report on the topic – Occupancy Analytics & In-Building Location Based Services – that explores the state of the market and the drivers behind this growth.

“The market for occupancy analytics solutions and location-based services is in its infancy, highly fragmented and subject to rapid technological change. With office densification rates increasing across the world, combined with evidence of poor space utilization and the expectations of occupants for more human and productive environments, the need for workspace management platforms to provide better insight into the repurposing of current workplaces has never been so urgent,” our dedicated occupancy analytics report states.

While our Q4 2018 report – Towards Data-Driven Buildings: Big Data For Smart Buildings 2018 to 2023 – places Occupancy Analytics / Space Optimization at level 2 of its ‘Smart Building Big Data Solutions Maturity model. Suggesting that solutions are still in an “optimization” stage, with much of the innovation and differentiation ahead of them. There is still plenty of jostling for position and more twists’n’turns to come in the Lighting – IT relationship.