Who Will Rule the Smart New World?
January 31, 2014 Leave a comment
While Analysts’ predictions of the next big developments in Technology have become as much a January tradition as are hangovers and the task of hoovering pine needles from the carpet, it is often even more illuminating to look at what is actually happening, but which may be “hidden in plain view”.
While BSRIA has been reporting on and working with developments in building technology for decades, two recent trends have become clear:
- The pace of development is accelerating, as buildings move increasingly into the IT mainstream, with elements such as software becoming as important as the more ‘traditional’ electronic and mechanical aspects.
- Other areas of smart technology are not only developing apace, but are converging, in ways that are both predictable and perhaps more surprising.
Already smart technology is ubiquitous and affordable enough to influence every area of life from home and leisure to commercial premises to infrastructure and the most basic processes used to run cities and the governments of whole countries.
Whether it is using a smart phone to adjust your home heating or to pay your local taxes, or a smart meter to indicate the cheapest time to run a load through a smart washing machine, or smart glass that lightens or darkens in response to ‘instructions’ from a building, or smart cars communicating with traffic signals, we are seeing technologies that we have always thought of as independent interact, as the Internet of Things steadily expands to becomes the Internet of Everything.
This interaction is not only convenient; it also means that the same goals can be pursued simultaneously using different smart systems. To take one example, if we want to reduce greenhouse gases, we can use smarter and more energy efficient devices and appliances, we can manage the energy consumption of our home or office through building controls (or even by using smarter building materials), or wider society can invest in smarter grids and smarter sources of energy production. The balance of the mix that brings the best result can change depending on the situation, so they need to be interconnected.
All of this opens up huge potential opportunities for companies to emerge as leaders in the smart new world. Some of the leading automation companies are already well established here. But other sometimes surprising challengers are emerging. As information and analysis becomes more central to the smart world, including the smart built world, so software and IT services companies are seeing and seizing opportunities, and other companies are also branching out.
While the “smart homes” market may initially have been slower to take off than some expected, it is telling that Honda entered the market in 2013, and Google followed, with its acquisition of Nest Laboratories in January 2014.
Of course growth by acquisition is not in itself enough. The much more challenging task is integrating diverse offerings into a single seamless and coordinated whole. Here the advantage will go to those companies who can develop solutions that naturally fit together, and who also understand how to develop and market them in a coordinated and holistic way.
Equally, the smart new world will rest not just on technological ingenuity and innovation. Equally important will be the understanding of the world of organisations – from private companies to governments, and on the behaviour of individuals. Each of these will interact and influence the other, often in unintended and unpredictable ways. The larger the scale of the system, the more complex and unpredictable it becomes. (It is telling that it is huge projects which interact both with governments and with a myriad of individuals that are especially liable to go wrong, as witness the debacle over the roll-out of the computerised elements of the new American Health Care system – ‘Obamacare’).
The companies that do best in this environment will need to offer the soft skills, including the social, the psychological and the political, in order to prevail.
BSRIA has just published a major new Market Study Smart Evolution 2014: Convergence of Smart Technologies: Towards The Internet of Everything which considers these questions and much more, and identifies the companies who are currently best placed, and those who are set to emerge as challengers.
It is a new world that sometimes appears as through a looking glass. As Lewis Carroll didn’t quite write:
The time has come to talk about the Internet of Things
Of BEMS and BACS and web attacks
On automated Buildings
And power from bricks and glass that thinks
And should smart cars have wings?…
To find out more about the study Smart Evolution 2014: Convergence of Smart Technologies: Towards The Internet of Everything or to order it , please contact:
Steve Turner Steve.email@example.com
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