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This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson of Tomlinson Business Research.

Partnerships focusing on IoT solutions in buildings have gained prominence in the past year. We have tracked over 30 alliances announced since January 2016 between the main building technology incumbents, IT partners and specialised IoT platform providers. This excludes strategic investments, minority stakes, and partnerships focused on the smart home.

The leading building automation suppliers for commercial and industrial buildings (Johnson Controls, Honeywell, Schneider Electric and Siemens) have all recently enhanced their IoT capabilities through strategic alliances.

Schneider Electric’s main IoT partner is Microsoft, utilizing their Azure cloud platform to deliver digital services, apps and analytics across multiple energy management offerings in their portfolio. In November 2016, Schneider Electric announced the launch of its next generation EcoStruxure architecture and platform to deliver IoT-enabled solutions.

“Our advanced platform connects the three layers of the technology stack through an elastic cloud backbone that leverages the full power of our partnership with Microsoft,” said Cyril Perducat, Executive Vice President, Digital Transformation and IoT, Schneider Electric.

“The platform has become the foundation for smarter grids, buildings, data centers and industrial plants, enabling our customers to reach new levels of efficiency and sustainability and provides a path to maximize the power of their operational data.”

Other IoT partners include startup companies involved in the company’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program. Planet Ecosystem, Digital Lumens and OhmConnect have already begun to integrate their IoT solutions into the EcoStruxure architecture and platform.

Johnson Controls joined the Cisco Digital Ceiling community as a founding building automation partner in March 2016. Johnson Controls is one of 20+ ecosystem partners providing products, solutions and services for digital buildings, enabled by the Cisco Digital Building Switch Series which powers and connects siloed building subsystems — lighting, HVAC, sensors, audio-video, and security networks — onto a single low voltage IP network.

Philips Lighting have also allied with Cisco, bringing together Philips’ LED based connected lighting system with Cisco’s network technology to address a global office market estimated to be worth EUR 1 billion.

Siemens has established partnerships with IT and networking firms to ensure its place at the Building Internet of Things (BIoT) table. The Building Technologies division collaborated in two strategic alliances in 2016 with IBM and Capgemini in order to advance the IoT capability of its Navigator energy and sustainability platform. The unit announced in February 2016 that it was integrating software from IBM’s Watson IoT Business Unit, including analytics and asset management, into its platform. IBM and Siemens will also partner to approach real estate organizations with their combined offerings of IBM’s TRIRIGA real estate software and Siemens energy efficiency services.

Honeywell too has worked with several IT partners since 2016 to develop its IoT capabilities in buildings. Honeywell Building Solutions main partner is Microsoft, using Azure stream analytics for tracking the real-time performance of building control equipment and systems for fault detection, predictive maintenance and energy savings.

In October 2016, the company announced a partnership with IBM to enable Internet of Things solutions for the connected retail store. Watson IoT and Honeywell are providing an integrated solution for IoT retail store operations, combining Honeywell’s expertise in building controls, sensor technology and software analytics with the Watson IoT Platform, cognitive APIs and facilities management capabilities. Honeywell BuildingSense powered by IBM provides insights as a service for retail store operations, spanning areas such as energy use, food loss, preventative maintenance, shopper insights, stock levels and supply chain analysis.

BAS services integration software has increased in importance with the advent of the Building Internet of Things (BIoT). Vendors such as Tridium, an independent business of Honeywell, offering middleware provide the means to more easily and seamlessly integrate the data from disparate building systems.

Tridium has announced several strategic alliances recently with their Niagara framework, being the building block for IoT platforms being developed by GE and Huawei.

A partnership with Current, powered by GE was announced in May 2016. Tridium’s software platform will be used with Predix, GE’s secure, industrial strength cloud environment, to capture and analyze the volume, velocity and variety of machine data generated across commercial and industrial buildings.

A similar alliance was recently announced by Huawei in March 2017, with their IoT gateway based on Tridium’s Niagara Framework and Honeywell Home & Building Technologies and Huawei jointly collaborating on large-scale smart city projects.

This year, Eaton’s lighting business announced an IoT partnership with Enlighted to accelerate the deployment of advanced sensory networks in commercial and industrial buildings. By integrating Enlighted’s hardware, software, services and broader capabilities with Eaton’s LED lighting and controls portfolio, the two companies aim to increase the adoption of connected lighting solutions. Eaton will also lead the sales and support efforts of Enlighted’s solutions through the North American agent representative network.

These partnerships demonstrate the importance of alliances between IT players and building technology providers in order to successfully bring IoT capability to buildings.

Clearly, the IT players have smart building ambitions too, as Cisco, Microsoft, IBM and Intel have recently demonstrated. Time will tell which of these ecosystem partnerships will dominate.

The recent Memoori report on The IoT in Smart Commercial Buildings concluded that this tangled web of alliances in the smart buildings space is still rapidly evolving:

“If these partnering arrangements are to prove successful, trustworthy relationships will take time to bed in, and competing interests must be carefully navigated. The alliances must also seek to provide value creation opportunities that are greater than the sum of the parts provided by members of the partnership”.

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