The Building Internet of Things (BIoT) business is currently being driven by 2 quite different major supply chains. Bottom up by the suppliers of some 12 different technical services in buildings from Environmental controls through to Security and Safety. Also top down from the major IoT specialists coming from the Communications and Software Industries.
This raises the question; Will we achieve an ideal solution that delivers against the all important customer value proposition or will we, through conflict of interests, hold up the evolution of the BIoT?
Both supply chains are to a large extent complimentary but without alliance in the broadest sense, meeting in the middle will be fraught with both technical and commercial problems and this article seeks to outline the contribution that each party can deliver to achieve the ultimate solution.
The ultimate objective of BIoT is to connect sensors in buildings in such a way that it offers a totally new set of choices of how we capture and create value from the phenomenal amount of new data they will generate; Then convert this into actionable intelligent information and control the building without the need for human intervention.
In theory this should be achieved at a cost that radically improves the building owners ROI compared with typical Building Automation Solutions (BAS) offered today.
Memoori’s report on this subject - The Transformation of BAS TO BIoT 2015 to 2020 - suggests that to achieve this on major new construction projects an IoT specialist would take control of delivering 3 contracts working down from the top with;
- Contract 1 - IoT Data Services, the Big Data Software Contract.
- Contract 2 - Network Communication Services that connect "Things" to Big Data cloud services.
- Contract 3 - (let’s call it) Enablement Hardware and Transmission, which supplies the wired or wireless modules to devices and completes the network together with its software controls.
Finally Contract 4, BAS Hardware & Installation, would be delivered by the manufacturers and installers of each of the BAS Services. This arrangement would reduce the responsibility and value that BAS suppliers have today in delivering their system offerings. So seemingly a top down approach would not be good news for the major BAS conglomerates. Nevertheless, we believe on major new construction projects a top down approach is more likely to provide the optimum solution.
It should be remembered that the existing building stock comes in many different types, sizes and can be single buildings, multiple buildings on one site and many buildings comprising large estates. Top down does not work so well when retrofitting BIoT into existing Smart Buildings because it would need to strip out all the existing control systems for each service and start again. This is not practical for most building owners and is unlikely to be cost effective at this stage.
Operators of large building estates are going first to approach the original suppliers and seek their advice of how best they can manage the transformation from BAS to BIoT. At the same time they will learn a great deal by applying BIoT to new buildings and take this forward to help in gradually converting their building stock.
In the meantime converting existing Smart Buildings to BIoT is going to be a major challenge and will require a different procedure with more input from the BAS suppliers because it will require integrating heterogeneous networks working on different standards and protocols into a single network structure.
We will therefore need to find ways of integrating data sources in multiple formats for these existing buildings. A new set of building software products are starting to come onto the market that are designed to provide an alternative to ripping out all the existing systems. A recent White Paper by Terry Casey of Intellastar throws more light on this issue.
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Since the inception of BAS, the major controls conglomerates have taken the contract to design and deliver hardware and software and install the controls contract on Smart Buildings particularly where integration between other services was required. Companies such as Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric and Siemens have much experience and are well respected particularly in some vertical markets. These companies are not going to settle for just contract 4.
They could bid for Contract 3 in conjunction with IT Software majors. An example of this is Schneider Electrics strategic technology agreement with one of the world’s major software companies, OSIsoft which appeared to be targeted at the Smart Grid market. OSIsoft will provide their PI System, a leading infrastructure technology for the management of real time data and events whilst Schneider Electric will provide innovative and comprehensive energy management solutions.
Cisco’s foray into the market has involved the development of building automation and security systems over IP, leveraging on their core expertise in the network domain, and they have also maintained a long-standing partnership with Johnson Controls. Intel meanwhile is partnering with Daikin on HVAC equipment to harnessing the power of the IoT by using Intel based intelligent gateway solutions to deploy a complete end-to-end solution for commercial HVAC equipment.
So we expect that to penetrate the existing retrofit business, which is potentially a much larger market than new construct buildings, to be pioneered by the major system suppliers joining forces with the major IT Software companies to deliver a cost effective Internet of Things in Buildings.
Anthony Townsend, a research director at the Palo Alto-based Institute for the Future, cited in our recent article The evolution of the Smart City refers to an incremental, ad-hoc style of smart city development through his analogy of the mainframe vs. web.
He suggests that the benefits of drawing on the diverse and collective creativity of our tech-savvy society are vast, diverse and proven, albeit a little messy. We agree with his comments that the good ideas come from the grassroots, but they also have trouble getting to a finished, polished version that a city or smart building can use and they have a hard time cross-fertilizing between cities and smart buildings.
So from this we conclude that the evolution of BIoT will be top down on major new construction projects but more likely bottom up on retrofitting existing buildings and this will require some fundamental changes to the contractual procedures of constructing Smart Buildings.
For more information on this subject, read our report - The Transformation of BAS TO BIoT 2015 to 2020 - http://memoori.com/portfolio/transformation-BAS-to-BIoT-2015-2020/