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5 ways to convince your customers of the value of smart buildings

5 ways to convince your customers of the value of smart buildings
With increasing energy and security concerns, smart buildings are definitely the way forward for the infrastructure industry. However, several challenges hurt the speed of its adoption.  The research firm Memoori, in a report published last year, noted that the potential challenges facing the Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives in buildings are numerous and varied.

For systems integrators and solutions providers, the challenge is to convince customers about the advantages of using smart buildings. Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Managing cybersecurity concerns 

Customers are still concerned about the security of IoT devices, and rightly so since recent cyber-attacks have proven that at present, many devices out there are quite vulnerable. A Gemalto survey published two years ago had shown that 90 percent of consumers are not confident of the security levels of IoT devices.

One of the solutions to this challenge is that cyber-risk management and innovation must be on equal footing. According to a note from Deloitte, cyber risk and innovation are inextricably linked—one shouldn’t be subordinated to the other.

“Some of the most forward-looking executives in technology, media, and telecommunications are harmonizing these business imperatives by engaging with business leaders both within their organization, as well as outside, to establish a ‘baseline of normal,’” Deloitte noted. “By understanding what “normal” data activity looks like, possible abnormalities can be quickly and accurately flagged for further review.”

2. Explaining where the ROI really lies 

The initial investment costs of an IoT-enabled building are higher than those of their traditional counterparts. This becomes a major challenge in convincing customers to adopt smart buildings because the returns on the investments are not clearly understood.

Energy efficiency takes up a chunk of discussions in this regard, but the truth is that it is only a small part of what smart buildings can actually do. There are several other advantages that can give building owners value for their money in the medium to longer term.

“Due consideration should also be given to qualitative business gains such as productivity of employees, the ability to attract/retain important staff, improvements to brand image, or opportunities to better engage and satisfy customers during their visits to a retail store or shopping center,” the Memoori report explains. “The more that can be done to document the value-add to stakeholders across the business more viable the business-case can become.”

3. Assuring responsible use of data

The increased proliferation of connected devices in our daily life has inevitably given rise to privacy-related worries. Collecting personal information and using it for any form of predictive analysis could be concerning for the people involved. They need to be reassured that the data is handled responsibly.

“People need reassurances that their data is being used responsibly and kept securely, and the possibility to opt-out of monitoring needs to be easily accessible at all times. Companies must determine how to secure rights to the data and manage data access,” explains Memoori. “A business may own the device that is gathering data, but the data potentially belongs to the customer, so businesses need to be mindful and cautious about the way data is handled.”

4. Providing data management support 

Smart buildings will collect massive amounts of data. Storage and processing of this data would require robust infrastructure support. Installers should have a clear idea of what hardware and software to use. Moreover, they should know how to operate the system to its maximum potential.

There is a need for more efficient platforms and data processing strategies to come into the market to make this part of the job easier. Systems integrators and solutions providers must be able to assist the building managers in getting the right mix of software and hardware.

5. Ensuring more skilled personnel

IoT and smart building industries are still quite new and not many people are skilled in this field. Earlier this year, Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA noted that there is a skill gap that has emerged as the industry rapidly moves towards smart buildings. Siemens has initiated a certification system and work on career pathways to bridge this gap.

A survey by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT found that 40 percent of professionals in the field said they were ‘unfamiliar’ with the term ‘Internet of Things’, while 55 percent said there was a ‘lack of clear advice or knowledge’ on the subject. 

“Attracting, developing, and retaining the right talent will be critical for both systems vendors and their BIoT customers, but with so many data analytics and IoT related projects going on in multiple industries, the appropriate skills are often in short supply,” Memoori notes.

More skilled personnel in the field may convince end users that there are enough people available to support new solutions. This would also increase awareness in the market of the advantages of the technology.

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