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By 2021 there will be over 3.6 billion connected devices installed in smart commercial buildings, making up a large proportion of all connected devices. Buildings are our most human environments and smart technology is allowing us to understand and control that environment like never before.

Lighting, security, safety, HVAC control, and other building systems are increasingly able to shape indoor environments to enhance the health, well-being, comfort, and productivity of occupants. This smart evolution is led by data analytics, that has now proven its ability to improve buildings at every level.

Whatever type of building we explore, we find data is revolutionizing the way buildings operate but also offering new opportunities in the way we use them. The very nature of work in commercial offices, for example, is undergoing some profound changes. Increased worker mobility, workspace digitization, and hot-desking have created flexible workspaces, all because of a growing realization that creating safe, attractive and appealing workspaces positively impacts productivity.

“With workspaces being flooded with sensors, enterprises are accumulating unprecedented levels of data,” states our latest report Towards Data-Driven Buildings: Big Data for Smart Building 2018-2023. “Reliable, granular data from building systems and IoT connected sensors is critical not just to efficient building systems operation, but also to providing empirical evidence of the ways in which office spaces are being used by today’s building occupants, and create workspaces that adapt to employee needs and enables them to do their best work.”

Big Data has also been transforming the retail sector and fuelling a shift in the way that brick-and-mortar retailers engage with their customers and run their stores. A recent report from Cisco suggests that in-store analytics alone could add a staggering $61 billion of value to retailers worldwide throughout 2018. While our Data-Driven Buildings report predicts the retail vertical to grow at a CAGR of 18.7% over the next 5 years.

“Online sellers can capture, analyze and derive insights from data across multiple channels including search, ads, email, and web logs,” the report points out. In order to catch up, “physical stores are now beginning to replicate this level of data gathering by installing sensors to gather location intelligence, developing in-store apps and integrating building, business and sales systems to better understand sales patterns, monitor product availability, manage supply chains and improve staffing and operations.”

In healthcare facilities, the primary applications for big data may focus on disease identification and diagnosis, epidemic outbreak predictions, drug discoveries and real-time health monitoring, but significant opportunities also exist on the smart building level. Like other buildings, healthcare facilities can use data to optimize building performance in the face of rising operational costs. They can better utilize space to improve occupancy rates, patient experiences or employee productivity.

Big Data analytics has also demonstrated potential applications in hospitality but the sector is still relatively young in terms of adoption. While airports, data centers, stadiums and other event spaces have all taken significant steps in a smart technology direction, driven by the growing lure of big data insight. Our Data-Driven Buildings report explores each vertical in-depth and discusses broader CRE level opportunities influencing huge portfolios the rapidly evolving smart building market.

Early commercial real estate (CRE) adopters of data analytics are twice as likely to “be in the top quartile of financial performance” among peers, five times more likely to make faster decisions, and three times more likely to execute as planned, according to a recent JLL corporate report.

While an Altus Group survey of C-level executives at CRE firms around the world found that that the primary driver for smart technology investments was around cost and operational efficiency. The study also discovered that big data is being widely used to make CRE offerings more competitive by improving deal execution lifecycles, raising the profile of their portfolio, and improved market insight.

“As well as the opportunities related to specific building types, forward-thinking experts in the Commercial Real Estate domain are increasingly leveraging Big Data analytics,” explains our comprehensive report. “Multiple Big Data software and platform solutions have emerged in recent years targeting the needs of commercial real estate, including; tenant engagement, portfolio analysis, asset management software, investment planning, spatial analytics, visualisation and marketing tools.”

The total global market for Big Data in Smart Commercial buildings expected to rise from $15.6Bn at the end of 2018 to $35.8Bn by 2023, an impressive CAGR of 18%. That makes it more important than ever for industry stakeholders to understand the needs occupants and the new capabilities of all kinds of buildings. At the route of these needs and capabilities, you find data, helping us understand our buildings, their occupants and their potential.