Smart buildings are a booming trend with great potential. Based on multiple emerging techs such as IoT, AI, and ML, smart buildings have the power to improve an office’s efficiency and sustainability efforts drastically. It helps managers utilize their office resources optimally and prevent cost and resource wastages. With proper IoT implementation, managers can streamline internal processes and gather critical employee data, which can then be utilized to improve employee and business policies.
According to recent stats, the global smart building market was valued at $67.60 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $80.62 billion in 2022. And if we take a look further into the future, by 2029, the smart building market is expected to be worth somewhere in the vicinity of $328.62 billion. These numbers clearly dictate that smart building is a game-changer, not just a passing trend.
Experts believe that most big and small offices will have some form of smart building and automation infrastructure in place in the coming years. And if you are thinking of transforming your office and making it smarter, this is the guide for you.
In it, you will learn about smart buildings, their key benefits, and how you can better manage your smart building by developing smart building management software.
- A smart building is a non-residential place like an office or a shopping center where data and commands move between various IoT devices to create an ecosystem of interconnected devices.
- Smart buildings have various elements like smart lighting systems, HVAC control systems, automatic lock systems, etc.
- Smart buildings help owners/managers run their processes seamlessly and achieve more efficiency and employee productivity.
- Smart buildings are also environment friendly. The leave very little carbon foot print and help office managers decrease resource wastage.
- To build smart building management software solutions for your office, you need experienced IoT developers. A trusted technology partner will help guide you throughout the process and help you save some development money and time as well.
Table of Contents
What is a Smart Building, and How Does it Work?
Smart buildings are non-residential places such as offices, factories, shopping centers, etc., where data and commands flow between the various net-enabled devices. At the core of smart buildings is the Internet of Things (IoT). It is a network of devices connected via a controller. The data flow between these devices, and depending on whether they have any AI, they can or can’t make decisions independently.
Let us try to understand what we just read with an example:
Imagine an office space with a smart coffee maker, a smart AC, an automated lock system, and an HVAC system. All these are connected to a controller device. They can all be connected to a single device if packed in a small space. Or, they can be connected to different controller devices, which in turn are connected to each other to create a mesh network. The controller device works as a hub to which all the devices are connected. It is usually an Edge device, something of a router, with an AI and decision-making powers that makes data gathering and device management possible. The Edge device is connected to the internet, either wirelessly or through a wired connection, and has a software layer for data gathering and device control. The software layer can also be considered the smart building management software, which we will learn more about a little later in the post.
The user/manager accesses the UI of the management software on the controller device over the internet and sees the real-time data being sent by the connected devices. Now, if the management software is smart enough, it can also let the user get different types of analytics from the gathered data. For instance, how many times a certain employee leaves the office in a day, and is there a pattern in his comings and goings. Also, users can control these devices, like turning on the coffee maker or setting the AC temperature remotely.
For small offices, it might be hard to see value in this investment. But the efficiency and enhanced productivity of the office space more than make up for the initial investment. Big offices covering multiple floors can definitely benefit from smart building implementation and smart building management software development. With so many floors and so many devices to manage and monitor, office managers and IT departments need a centralized platform to access the data and use it for the office’s benefit.
Elements of a Smart Building
Smart buildings are made up of various devices, all communicating to achieve better operational efficiency and heightened productivity. As discussed in the previous section, in the middle of these devices sit controller devices that help managers get real-time data and control the IoT devices. A typical smart building has the following elements:
- Smart Lighting Control System
- Smart Locks
- Intelligent HVAC (heating, ventilation, and cooling) systems
- Smart office equipment (Ex: printers, coffee makers, etc.)
- CCTV cameras
- Motion sensor-controlled doors
- Equipment tracking with IoT tagging
If you want to learn more about the above-mentioned smart building elements, please read our blog post on how to build IoT applications for small offices.
There are many ways to use the elements mentioned above in a smart building. From real-time data gathering and comfort specifications to trend detection and office safety reinforcement, managers can achieve a lot with IoT and smart building implementation.
What are the Benefits of a Smart Building?
1. Real-Time Data Gathering
IoT devices help managers get real-time data from the various parts of their office buildings. The data helps keep a firm eye on resource utilization, device health, employee productivity, etc. With the help of this data, managers can create better in-office and business policies. This data can also reveal critical failure points or potential device or process breakdowns. With AI-based analytics, trend detection, and disaster prediction tools, managers can identify at-risk devices and take preventive measures.
2. Improved Office Efficiency
Smart buildings increase the efficiency of an office. With the help of real-time data and AI-based analytics, managers can find out which resources are being utilized to their potential and which ones are being under-utilized. Furthermore, processes like device tracking, employee attendance, and entry-exit time recordings can all be automated. It makes businesses more efficient and streamlined. With the data gathered by these devices, managers can then figure out which areas need improvement and create policies that offer better efficiency.
3. Decrease in Operational Cost
While IoT adoption and implementation may seem like a big investment, it has a phenomenal ROI. By streamlining processes and cutting out wastages, you save a lot of money. Power and water usage in a building can vary depending on occupancy. It hardly makes sense to keep your HVAC system running at full capacity when you only have three people in the office. Such outrageous wastages can be removed from your office with IoT. IoT prevents overheating and overcooling of the various parts of the office, adding to the comfort factor of the employees. It also saves a lot of money. Furthermore, thanks to automation, you can increase the overall productivity of your office by freeing up your employees to work on tasks that require human cognition.
4. Increase in Sustainability
Sustainability is a big requirement for businesses these days. And smart buildings are designed to ensure no resource is wasted. When you employ IoT to make your office building more efficient and use various resources economically, you are saving a lot of money and minimizing your harmful impact on the environment. Using intelligent waste disposal mechanisms, you can also make your neighborhood more hygienic. These intelligent waste disposal mechanisms learn the weekly amount of waste created by your office on various days of the week. They also keep track of trash can capacity. Based on trends, the mechanism predicts the optimal day for garbage pickup. This keeps the neighborhood clean and saves unnecessary cleaning of half-filled garbage cans, thus saving fuel and preventing carbon emissions.
5. Heightened Revenue
A direct outcome of a well-run office is the ability to offer better services to customers. A smart building takes out all the inefficiency and tedium from your operations, leaving you to focus on your core business. This means you can make better policies and business decisions and redirect the money you are saving towards providing better services or goods to your customers.
How to Develop Smart Building Management Software for Offices?
As we discussed earlier, smart buildings are made of many different elements. They are an ecosystem of various devices working together to make the building smarter. But since most devices come from different vendors and have their own software layers and management tools, it becomes tough for managers to keep track of them. A better way to do all of it is to develop a single smart building management software that lets you monitor and control all your IoT devices from one place.
There can be two major scenarios: One, you are just getting started with your smart building implementation. Two, you already have all the IoT elements in place and want a centralized management system.
In both cases, you can follow the below steps.
1. Figure Out the Need
The first step in any development process is figuring out the need. Before you invest heavily in IoT implementation, you need to ensure that there really is a need. Not all businesses can thrive in smart buildings. So, you need to look at your business and your internal processes and ask yourself: Will IoT implementation benefit my business? If the answer is yes and you can see any of the benefits mentioned above, you can move ahead.
Before moving forward, it would also help if you talked to your employees. They can share with you more areas that can improve with IoT implementation. It will help if you start making a list of all the goals you want to achieve. It will also help in the later stages while you are in development. Things change quickly during the development phase, and many new possibilities emerge. People often get excited about those possibilities and do things that don’t help their goals. In such cases, looking back at the list of your needs and goals can help keep your priorities straight.
If you already have a smart building but are still struggling with multiple management software, your immediate need is becoming more streamlined. Building smart building management software is your biggest requirement.
2. Conduct a Thorough Market Research
Once you have your list of goals and requirements, you can start searching for ways to meet them. IoT is a big spectrum with new solutions and players emerging every year. You need to find solutions to your problems tailored to your business.
For instance, most enterprises either manage in-house IoT implementation and management teams or hire industry leaders like Siemens to take over their smart building project completely. But these approaches are not suited for mid and small-sized businesses since they cost a tremendous amount of money.
So, if you are looking for more economical ways to make your office building smart, you need to know your options. A great way to do so is to look at other businesses like yours and see how they handled their smart building implementation. Your competitors can give crucial data about what to do and what not to do.
Another thing you will have to research is a good smart building solution development company. You need a partner who is an expert in the field and knows how to manage projects of different scales. There are many great and cost-effective developers on the market who offer complete IoT implementation and separate IoT development services. Sites like Clutch are a great way to know more about these companies. Customer reviews on such sites can tell you a lot about a company’s policies and how they treat their customers. Another way to learn more about these companies is by their portfolios. Most software development companies like to directly showcase their best work on their sites. Go through their previous projects and see if they have handled projects such as yours before.
3. Make an IoT Implementation Plan
The next step is making an IoT implementation plan, which is best done with an IoT expert. There are many places where this and the next steps on this list overlap.
Before you can go to your board and ask them to invest a hefty sum in IoT implementation, you must make a compelling presentation. Your list of requirements and needs and how IoT implementation will meet them will be crucial in this part. You will also need to give them cost and time estimates. And this part is done best after consulting with multiple IoT software developers and consultants.
4. Hire IoT Experts
Once you have a plan, it’s time to hire the people who can execute it. As we discussed earlier, there are many talented developers on the market who offer great value. But you need to find the one who has experience in your niche.
Depending on your requirements, hiring different developers will have various benefits. So make sure your needs and your developer’s expertise align. Your IoT software developer and implementation experts will tell you the best way to make your office building smart. They will know which sensors to use and the best place to put them. They will know how to achieve minimum downtime and craft an IoT solution tailored just for your business.
5. Build a POC/MVP
Before making a big financial commitment with the developer, it’s best to ask them to give you a proof-of-concept (POC). A POC is the implementation of a proposed solution on a smaller scale to see if it meets the requirements. If you are starting off, your IoT company will place a couple of sensors around your office and show you how easily you manage your entire office with a lean software layer. You will be able to see real-time data, create various charts, etc.
If you are only looking for someone to develop smart building management software, they will most likely give you a minimum viable product (MVP). It will be a more compact version of the entire management software fitted with all the crucial features. An MVP is created to see how a solution works in real-world scenarios and get early feedback. Your employees can use this MVP and give you their feedback also. And based on that, you will know if you should add more features or go back to the drawing board and start again.
6. Enhance and Improve
After initial deployment, you can keep working on your IoT implementation and make your building even smarter. There are countless ways to use IoT and other emerging technologies to streamline your business processes. So once the vanilla version of your implementation is done, you can build on it and improve it.
Smart buildings are a growing trend that shows great promise. In the coming years, businesses big and small will use IoT to build more intelligent workplaces. With IoT implementation, companies can increase productivity and save a lot of operational costs. And if you are looking to adopt IoT and make your office building a smart building, then Matellio is the right partner.
We have years of experience helping businesses from various niches in their IoT journey. We offer IoT consultation and software development services. Our flexible engagement models and client-centric business policies help us cater to companies big and small.
Want to know more about our IoT-related services? Click here and request a free consultation session with our experts.
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