Building Management Systems (BMS) or Building Automation Systems (BAS), which control automated HVAC, plumbing, lighting and other mechanical and electrical building equipment, are garnering a lot of attention lately from architects, engineers, building owners and facility maintenance professionals.
The increase in attention is driven primarily by smarter building materials utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected central control systems linked to cloud-based technologies. These IoT solutions and control platforms not only make highly automated building system operations possible, they also provide valuable “building data” for professionals who oversee building performance. When used properly, a building management system can provide unparalleled opportunities for energy savings along with increased occupant comfort, productivity and safety.
That being said, the category is not entirely a bed of roses. The reason: some architects, engineers, building owners and facility maintenance professionals have been hesitant to invest in this new technology, for a variety of reasons.
Manufacturers and suppliers can increase acceptance and specification of their IoT-capable systems by considering the following concerns front and center in their marketing efforts:
Product and platform ownership.
As IoT-capable platforms emerge, the line between controlling physical objects and managing digital platforms has begun to blur. Brands can buyers help bridge the gap by redefining the responsibilities of both facility managers and IT support. By helping to define areas of ownership and shared insights, brands will help facility managers get the most out of their systems.
Due to the physical and digital convergence, building management systems are being discussed much earlier in the construction process, specifically during the design phase. The problem is that technology suppliers aren’t always well versed in how architects and engineers evaluate and specify products. To be more successful, suppliers need to leverage the intelligence that traditional building product manufacturers offer and take a strategic approach to properly create engagement and demand with these groups.
In 2016, AGC of America reported that nearly 70% of professional contractor firms had trouble finding subcontractors, representing a significant portion of the construction workforce. While technology is driving the demand for modern building management systems, skilled labor is just as critical for proper installation of the physical products. Manufacturers and suppliers have an opportunity to elevate less skilled workers by developing and providing higher levels of customized training and ongoing support.
With unprecedented connectivity and networked options comes unprecedented risk. IoT solutions may be garnering a lot of interest, but the fear of being hacked isn’t going away. Consequences range from extraction of personal and company data all the way to operational takeovers and shutdowns. Manufacturers and suppliers may be able to help alleviate some of their specifiers’ fears by educating buyers and facility managers on security features, best security practices and how to use the various security features.
As large data sets become available in real-time because of BMS, a challenge for technology suppliers is to easily sort, filter and deliver the appropriate data to building operators efficiently. Suppliers should work to transition big data into actionable insights so that operators can make meaningful decisions.
Legacy BMS shortcomings.
As highly advanced products and systems enter the market, building owners are challenged to address the divide that exists between modern solutions and legacy platforms. As Arc Advisory Group put it, “These shortcomings include lack of basic analytic tools, proprietary programming languages, cumbersome user interfaces, and an inability to process live data.” Manufacturers that can help property owners integrate the old and new, in line with these shortcomings, will find specifiers to be more receptive.
While there may be unanswered questions about IoT-enabled building automation systems, the number of practical applications for these system is growing. Whether it’s an architect creating specifications for a college or university building, a property owner evaluating products for a commercial office, or a facility manager upgrading a warehouse infrastructure, product manufacturers and technology providers must consider the different demands of their buyers and create experiences that speak to their needs.
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