smartphone

Consumer Technology Can Be Useful

smartphoneThe line between building management systems and consumer technology aimed at empowering homeowners is becoming fuzzy.

The reality is that things are changing. In a commentary at Facility Executive, Sierra Monitor Corporation President and CEO Varun Nagaraj suggested that the massive gains on the consumer side should be leveraged by building professionals:

Folks, it’s time to stop being so entrenched in our beliefs about what a BMS is or should be. It’s time to learn from the group across the aisle — the consumer sector — that is out-innovating us.

This is not a new phenomenon. During the past decade, the explosion of mobile technology led people to use their smartphones and tablets at work. The difference between the capabilities of consumer and professional telecommunications simply became small enough that people could get their work done with their own devices. In addition, they are more comfortable with their own gear than that given to them by their employer and therefore more likely to get the job done.

Employers are mixed on this development. Many don’t like to lose control and are unhappy with the compromises and complexities reliance on employee equipment entails. That can be overcome, at least for some, by the fact that it drastically reduces capex by eliminating the need to buy a device for every new hire.

The same underlying reality – that consumer technology is extraordinarily sophisticated – makes Nagaraj’s point a good one.

The Motley Fool offers a primer on home automation systems. The idea of energy and building managers using consumer equipment or services is most appropriate for small buildings, multifamily homes and businesses in residential-type structures (such as many doctors and dentists’ offices). Large buildings, clearly, still require specialized platforms. The Market Realist takes a look at the competition in this area between two big names: Apple and Amazon.

While the idea of using consumer gear is attractive and intriguing, energy managers must be careful. The two camps, while growing closer, still are different. For instance, security in purpose-built BMSes no doubt is more stringent than an iPhone. Also, hooks to back end big data platforms are specialized

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