As smart buildings with networks that tightly integrate multiple building systems become increasingly commonplace, FMs need to identify suppliers capable of supporting these connected environments.
Taking control of technology, whatever the time and wherever you are. It’s a recurring theme in residential technology circles as the Internet of Things continues to take shape, but it’s arguably in the corporate and industrial worlds that smart, connected buildings hold the greatest promise.
According to a recent study by Gartner, 14.2 billion connected things will be in use by the end of this year, with that total set to reach 25 billion by 2021. As a result, smart buildings which integrate multiple building systems – from lighting and heating to windows, doors and CCTV – into a single network infrastructure are becoming increasingly common.
All this equates to multiple fresh challenges for facilities managers. Arguably most pressing is the need to manage and utilise the enormous amounts of data that will be generated by these connected systems. On one hand they will make it far easier for FMs to optimise the use of building systems and improve energy efficiency, for example by shutting off some systems altogether when they are not needed.
Less positively, smart buildings also spell social, legal and ethical issues related to the ownership of data, ‘algorithmic bias’ and compliance with regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation. As anyone who has grappled lately with the complexities of GDPR will be aware, the time and cost implications of this should not be underestimated.
In this context the selection of the most appropriate suppliers is even more critical. From lighting to heating and beyond, it makes sense to select suppliers who have extensive experience of networkable systems and who understand the connectivity and interoperability issues that these entail. The network landscape is still evolving, too, so the more a supplier is capable of accommodating existing technologies but also has an awareness of emerging new network standards the better.
As the smart workplace trend accelerates, it’s probable that we will see the emergence of a new tier of companies who specialise in the kind of deep overarching integration needed to ensure these environments perform at their best. But the importance of individual suppliers will remain undimmed, and in this regard facilities managers would be well-advised to start seeking out those with the product ranges and skill-sets that are most complementary to this brave new connected world.
If you’re an FM and looking for external support to help your organization with its big energy and estate management challenges, drop us a line or give us a call.