“Co-development and co-creation between building technology companies are going to define the future of building operations. For us to create a higher value, or to tap into the next level of innovation, how we co-create with other providers in order to provide a better outcome for the user will be essential,” President and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies, Vimal Kapur, says in an interview published on Construction Week.
Kapur believes that greater cooperation is the missing piece of the smart puzzle and the key to the sector’s evolution. He not only sees the opportunity arising for greater cooperation but the necessity for all stakeholders to work together in order to drive growth and stay relevant. Smart technology, like all technology, is designed to solve various issues that people face and the major issue for buildings, according to the Honeywell CEO, is the lack of cooperation between those who use, operate, maintain, and design our increasingly smart facilities.
“Technology has to solve a problem in order to be relevant, and the transformation that is most relevant – and is the need of the moment – is understanding and meeting the desires of those directly interacting with the building – whether they are occupants, maintenance support and service providers, or the owners of the building,” Kapur continued.
The design of a building should not just be about the owner’s desires, nor should it only reflect the needs of the end-user, or occupant. While installing a new access control system offers greater value for those concerned with security and occupant tracking software generates value for those focused on space optimization, the separate systems miss out on the true value of smart buildings. The value of integrating these two disparate systems provides value that is greater than the sum of its parts.
“If a lighting system plays a big role in user experience, but that lighting system is created independently from the building management system, the combined value of the two is diminished,” Kapur suggests. “The only reason that such systems aren’t integrated is because firms haven’t made the effort to collaborate.”
Kapur is not alone in his views. The ideas of increased integration of building systems and greater representation of various stakeholders in decision-making for smart buildings is gathering momentum under the term “co-creation”. Co-creation is the new opportunity landscape for the buildings industry, one that fosters innovation by bringing together the needs and priorities of the various people who live, work, and are invested in our buildings.
“Smart building technology is drastically transforming where and how we work. The sophistication and power of smart building technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Companies are investing millions of dollars to constantly improve, and unleash the potential of these digital technologies. Yet, with the rapid development of new technologies, comes a brand new set of challenges and the need to adjust the way we think,” says Sander Schutte, CEO of smart office platform provider, Mapiq.
“The traditional strategy of procuring isolated, extensive systems within the organization is disappearing. Nowadays, there is a need for component-based, modular systems that integrate with each other. If we aim to realize the full potential of the Smart Building, we must move towards a fully integrated, holistic approach. Not only between technology and systems, but also between participants,” continues Schutte.
Kapur, Schutte, and others see the industry soon reaching a tipping point where the current range of specialized products and customized services no longer provide the value they once did. As more and more integrated, cooperative, co-created solutions move into the market offering seamless multi-system experiences, the stakeholders themselves will drive change by demanding that experience in every building.
“We are going to be working in a collaborative ecosystem where one plus one equals four. This means that everyone within the industry has to raise their game to collaborate better. If companies don’t co-create, they will only partially fulfill the needs of the occupiers, service providers, and the building owners,” Kapur says.
What we call smart today will not be smart tomorrow. A building with each of today’s market-leading smart systems will not present the same value as one that co-creates and integrates a range of standard smart systems. The value itself will shift from one of features and capabilities to one of experience and representation as the stakeholders themselves demand that buildings bring their unique desires into the equation. As the market shifts, the companies serving the market will need to shift with it or risk being left behind.
“Some companies will have to completely change the way they operate in order to stay relevant,” Kapur says. “It’s not easy to erase the memory of past processes, even with the awareness that the future is better.
This trend is not only true of systems within buildings but of cooperation between different buildings, and with various smart city programs. An efficient building with energy storage capacity is great today but will be seen as dumb tomorrow if it doesn’t harness the value of interconnectivity with other buildings and the city. Only through co-creation and greater integration can we achieve the truly smart buildings and cities that our technology promises.