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Software stalwart Microsoft announced a new partnership last week with digital services and consulting company Infosys. The deal aims to deliver smart buildings and spaces (SB&S) initiatives for construction, architecture, engineering, real estate development, and facilities management.

The smart building focused collaboration will utilize Microsoft’s Azure cloud and analytics services in combination with Infosys’ experience creating connected ecosystems for buildings. Together they hope to develop SB&S solutions to improve energy efficiencies, optimize space utilization, enable higher people productivity and deliver differentiated user experiences.

“Leveraging the latest digital technologies, the solutions aim to improve the entire lifecycle of building construction and operations, and the user experiences of those that manage and work in buildings,” reads the press release that accompanied the announcement.

Azure is a powerful and broadly influential service, in building, urban, and enterprise settings, Infosys’ experience and ability meanwhile, should not be underestimated. We can realistically expect to see a full suite of new solutions including building system monitoring, analysis, and predictive maintenance, building occupancy and space utilization analytics, all focused at enhancing building owner, operator, and tenant experiences. Following the announcement, the new partners provided information on the partnership’s first initiative.

In a development of Infosys’ proprietary SCALE (Sustainable Connected Affordable Livable Experiential) framework, the new Smart Building Management solution enables; automation, monitoring, and control, of operational assets. The system promises to drive efficiencies across building energy, water, lighting, and acoustical systems by using an integrated command center that optimizes these resources through predictive analytics.

“The solution augments human intelligence with AI to dramatically reduce costs and help accelerate the design of digital workspaces that respond to human activity and significantly improve comfort and productivity while transforming living and working spaces to sustainable, purpose driven, environments,” the companies said.

As part of the announcement, Infosys and Microsoft will also open an Innovation Lab in Redmond that will focus on developing and co-creating new solutions for SB&S that traverse industry sectors. The new Lab will be an extension of the Infosys Smart Workplace Hub in Indianapolis and will focus on each company’s cross-industry experiences in emerging technologies to “incubate ideas, co-create physical assets and prototypes, establish frameworks and guidelines for the domain, and the development of a partner ecosystem for SB&S solutions,” an Infosys Whitepaper explained.

Infosys is no stranger to artificial intelligence, over three decades they have sought to enable the enterprise with “an AI-powered core” that helps prioritize the execution of wider digital transformation strategies. “Physical spaces and buildings are the latest in adopting Digital Transformation,” said Corey Glickman, Vice President & Head – Strategic Design Consulting at Infosys. Glickman believes that the new collaboration “will accelerate sustainable solutions that release immediate operational efficiencies for our customers, innovate on the edge to fuse mature and emerging technologies to incubate space changing offerings that we can then begin to deploy at scale.”

Infosys is also no stranger to partnerships. The firm’s subsidiary EdgeVerve Systems recently partnered with the independent spend-management company JAGGAER for software development in the manufacturing, retail, logistics and higher education industries. In Kuwait, Al Ahli Bank selected EdgeVerve Systems to automate its operational processes using the AssistEdge RPA platform.

Infosys has also announced a strategic partnership with Amsterdam-based ABN AMRO in a bid to solidify its mortgage servicing capabilities across Europe. While, last September, Infosys formed a JV with Singapore-based Temasek to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia.

“Infosys has been strengthening its core competencies by pursuing strategic collaborations and acquisitions. The company is benefiting from solid deal wins, geographical expansions and business segmental growth,” say Zacks Equity Research, who currently advise Infosys investors to keep their stock with a rank of “#3 (Hold)”. “The company’s alliance strategy targets collaborations with leading technology providers, thereby allowing it to take advantage of the emerging technologies in a mutually beneficial and cost-competitive manner,” Zacks added.

Microsoft has also been active in the smart building space, primarily through their Azure suite of data services. On June 11th 2019, Microsoft became a member of the EnOcean Alliance, a 400 member strong non-profit organization that aims to standardize and develop intelligent building solutions with integrated energy harvesting wireless technology. The emergence of big-tech firms in such alliances and the wider smart building space is a key driver for the entire sector.

“When it comes to smart building developments, we are seeing companies like IBM and Microsoft now entering the market providing data management and analytical services. The sensors we deploy in buildings are generating vast amount of data but most of them have been deployed in either ‘dumb’ buildings or where there’s only local control. They are not able to do anything with the data that’s being generated,” says Graham Martin, Chairman and CEO of the EnOcean Alliance.

The Microsoft – Infosys collaboration is the latest step in big tech’s takeover of the Smart Building space. The continued strong focus of these major firms in buildings underlines the profitability of the smart building movement and reinforces forecasts of our not-to-distant-future, high-tech built environment. The smart building, in all its forms, is emerging as a key battleground for big-tech, and such alliances will drive innovation and competition in the coming years.