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|3 Key Considerations of Smart Building System Integration
A good solution demonstrates immediate operational savings and ROI; a great solution continues to do so well into the future.
Companies pursuing a fully optimized smart building portfolio have many questions to consider as they design a strategy. The systems integrator is the lynchpin in the successful execution of the program’s implementation. Charged with joining subsystems together and ensuring they function in unison, it’s critical to evaluate programs against a standard criteria. In an era of rapid technological advancement, the systems integrator role is more complex than ever. They must uncover barriers to implementation and system compatibility while troubleshooting operational roadblocks.
an effort facilitate the process, here are three key conversations to
have prior to designing your integration strategy. Below are the most
common ‘this vs. that’ discussions we have with corporate and
commercial real estate teams:
Custom vs. Configurable
word ‘custom’ implies tailored, unique and high-quality. While that may
initially sound ideal, when it comes to software, the word ‘custom’ can
be deceiving. Software customization is particularly costly because the
upfront implementation takes longer, and any feature updates or
upgrades are completed at the user’s expense.
Configurable software, on the other hand, has standardized
functionality and can scale to meet evolving business needs. A systems
integrator can easily incorporate additional subsystems and controls
because a configurable solution is flexible with multiple technologies.
Product features and upgrades occur automatically without disruption to
users. Plus, there are no advanced technical skills required,
eliminating avoidable expenses and lengthy waiting periods. In short, a
configurable system’s framework is flexible and designed to expand in
alignment with business and user needs.
Pilots vs. Phased
Companies often think a ‘try before you buy’ approach will help them compare vendors on a building-by-building basis and better understand what solution is best suited for their needs. In reality, selecting multiple pilots often waste valuable time, effort and money for the customer and the slew of vendors. The systems integrator is swamped with a variety of siloed projects with no interoperability. Vendors typically have different value propositions, which means it’s also difficult to conduct an ‘apples to apples’ evaluation or dive deep enough into individual solution performance. Additionally, it’s nearly impossible to prove scalable ROI on just one building or floor without a significant data set.
We’ve seen companies gain far more value when they select a subset of
representative buildings in their portfolio to integrate with one
vendor. They implement, analyze and demonstrate the quickest path to
value—which effectively serves as Phase 1. This provides an accurate
representation of a portfolio-wide program and facilitates informed
decisions from a fair starting point. The best news is if the vendor
proves a worthy partner, then executing Phase 2 is a much more
streamlined and cost-effective task for the systems integrator.
Today vs. Tomorrow
are often driven to pursue a smart building solution by a specific pain
point. Perhaps today it’s meeting energy rating mandates, understanding
real estate utilization or reducing hot / cold calls. But just as
companies have a primary need, they typically have a long-term vision
for a holistic smart building program that allows them the flexibility
to add new services or technologies such as cloud-based control, or
nuanced sensor points like indoor air quality or occupancy. This
scenario creates a dual need for a program that can launch right away
to address the challenge at hand and later expand to meet future
Consider this: To accommodate the short and long-term goals of a diverse portfolio, it’s critical to identify a partner that’s experienced in enterprise technology. One who can evolve quickly, simply and cost-effectively, allowing program roll-out with minimal disruption and maximum impact. A wise systems integrator will advocate for a solution that can expand in alignment with evolving portfolio needs. Choosing an open architecture foundation to best leverage the myriad of IoT products available enables the company to incorporate the latest technologies as they are introduced to the marketplace. An ideal platform offers the option to start simply with a feature like utility benchmarking to understand baseline energy consumption, then add more advanced fault detection and diagnostics to identify valuable savings opportunities and/or command and control to manage building performance in real-time.
the only constant in real estate is change. A good solution
demonstrates immediate operational savings and ROI; a great solution
continues to do so well into the future.
Download this Evaluation Roadmap E-book
to learn how to ask the right questions, avoid costly mistakes and
implement an effective smart building program to dramatically improve
your portfolio's operation.
About the Author
Rake is a Systems Integrator at Switch Automation, where he helps
corporate and commercial real estate teams optimize their building
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