This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson of Tomlinson Business Research.
The integration of software aimed at supporting processes in the management of commercial and industrial facilities and real estate has been a continuing trend over recent years.
It has gained ground with the convergence of building energy management software into common data platforms combining other facility, property and asset management solutions. These tools are variously grouped as workplace management solutions, IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management Systems) or CAFM (Computer Aided Facility Management) tools.
IWMS, a term largely adopted by North American software vendors, was initially used in 2004 by Gartner, who defined it as an enterprise-class software platform that integrates five key components of functionality, operated from a single technology platform and database repository. These functional areas are:
- Real estate and lease management
- Facilities and space management
- Maintenance management
- Project management
- Environmental sustainability
Gartner reported in its 2014 Magic Quadrant for Integrated Workplace Management Systems that “effective sustainability systems must enable the comprehensive collection of accurate energy consumption and emissions data, as well as efficient analysis and evaluation of that data to facilitate informed decisions that optimize long-term sustainability.”
Leading vendors of IWMS software include Accruent, Archibus, Planon, IBM and Manhattan Software, who offer modules across the five functional areas including energy management.
Strategic partnerships and acquisitions by facility management software players have been increasing in recent years as energy efficiency becomes a key driver for real estate companies to operate more efficiently;
- Established software vendors such as IBM have committed resources to build an integrated approach to facility and real estate management software. The company’s acquisition of TRIRIGA, an IWMS software provider, in Apr 2011 was key to the foundation of IBM’s Smarter Buildings approach. IBM’s proposition is that there are many energy management software packages on the market, but they are isolated from other IWMS functions and therefore not positioned to actually affect the kind of energy reductions needed. TRIRIGA’s system provides business analytics, critical alerts, and automated processes to increase control and automation of real estate management, capital projects, space management, facility maintenance, and energy management.
- Yardi, an established US real estate management software firm with over 4,000 employees, acquired energy efficiency software provider, Enerliance (estimated sales of $6M and 24 employees) in May 2014. Enerliance produces the Load Based Optimization System (LOBOS), an intelligent HVAC platform that significantly reduces energy consumption in large buildings and campuses. LOBOS also enables automated demand response participation and system-level fault detection and diagnostics. More recently, Yardi has expanded its expertise in energy procurement, environmental reporting, submetering and budgeting with the acquisition of MCEnergy Inc in Aug 2015
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Partnerships by software firms intended to strengthen their energy analytics offering are also evident:
- iOffice, which supports more than 1,500 companies with workforce- centric IWMS software, announced a partnership on 07 Oct 2015 with Aquicore, an emerging startup energy management company. Aquicore offers an energy analytics platform for commercial real estate, providing technology that automatically reads and compiles data from utility meters and submeters in real-time. The platform is now deployed in over 500 buildings across the United States.
- Eagle Technology, a computerized maintenance management software provider announced a partnership with SkyFoundry in Sept 2014. SkySpark analytics software, now deployed in over 8,200 buildings, is combined with Eagle’s Proteus CMMS to help strengthen response to faults in equipment and generate a work order for maintenance.
Conversely, some BEMS providers have recognized that their market has been evolving beyond energy management and have consequently broadened their offering to encompass non-energy applications which fall into one of the IWMS functional areas, For example;
- Elster EnergyICT (acquired by Honeywell Jul 2015): Their Enacto platform’s inclusion of applications focusing on facility and asset management is a key differentiator for the company in the overcrowded BEMS marketplace.
- Verisae‘s platform offers a wide range of applications including asset maintenance and management.
- Commscope’s Redwood Building Intelligence platform offers the capability to manage space utilization, meeting room management applications together with lighting / HVAC management.
Software integration in buildings will continue to evolve, as owners and operators of large buildings and real estate look for ways of managing their facilities more effectively and identifying opportunities for cost savings and operational improvements.