Realcomm Considers 2015/2016 Innovation Landscape


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CoRE Tech 2014, the annual corporate real estate gathering organized by Realcomm happens November 10th and 11th. There, on the Sprint Campus in Overland Park, Kansas, the industry will have opportunity to learn about and compare notes on the torrent of new technologies aimed at automating property management and building operations. 

“How many different automation solutions are available to the corporate real estate and facility industry? After our first pass, we discovered 47 different companies offering over 650 different solutions…. not including 100+ automation solutions that are part of the smart, connected, high-performance, intelligent building ecosystem.” Jim Young, Realcomm Co-Founder & CEO, September 2014

To focus minds, Realcomm has invented the dial visualization above. I took the graphic for a figurative spin while listening to the Realcomm lead-up webinar last week, and I found it very useful. The webinar brought together a well-balanced panel of building controls and operations IT experts to discuss what the next 12-24 months has in store for corporate real estate and facilities teams. The 90 minute session was a sampler of topics that will be explored in depth in Kansas. Jim Young moderated the discussion which included Dave Clute, VP and Head of Workplace Technology at Zurich Insurance Group; Edwin Buckley, Ericsson’s Director of Facilities for North America; Marc Petock, VP, Marketing at Lynxspring; Brian Dauskurdas, Director, Global Energy, Lutron Electronics; and Fritz Schindelbeck, SVP, Ancillary Services for Yardi.

I did some fill-in-the-blank note-taking as the panel responded to Young’s questions, and here’s what I came up with for just one threaded conversation – this about putting real-time occupancy data to use in tuning HVAC, lighting and other building services, resulting in energy savings with no comfort sacrifices. Back in September of 2009, Howard Berger provides a whole list of such business data analytics-based innovations.  So occupancy tuning is not a new idea, it’s just finally within reach. The panel concurred that for simplicity, sleekness and user engagement, the location services already embedded in mobile phones would be leveraged for the occupancy data. 

“Following Phillips lead, addressable sockets controlled from your iPhone are within 2 years.” -Brian Dauskurdas, Lutron Electronics

Lutron should know about that. It was one of the Apple HomeKit partners announced at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. In the meantime, other building technologies have some evolving to do as well — wireless connectivity cannot be spotty; the price of LED lighting with integrated controls needs to come down; many privacy, security and cost issues related to mass data collection and storage need to be discussed and resolved; and more and better analytics algorithms tightly integrated into Workplace Management suites are needed to provide useful results.


So, while just about everyone agrees that occupancy-tuning is coming, there’s a lot of work to do that spans industries and corporate disciplines before the marketplace will embrace it. Here are some of the webinar’s Q&A exchanges that reveal the stage of industry transformation that we’re in right now:

Realcomm’s Young: Will corporate owners allow engagement with assets via worker cell phones?  To what degree will cell phones be incorporated into solutions? Do you create the solutions yourselves, or do you partner with telecom service providers?

Ericcson’s Buckley: Locationally-aware technology is already embedded into cell phones and networks. All of these things are being looked into for our own corporate facilities and as solutions we might deliver to the market. We have great service provider partners in North America and other geographies. But, the thought-leadership is coming from within Ericcson.  We are depending on the service providers to figure out how to deploy it. Internal IT, HR and security organizations are involved. Automation takes first a deep understanding of internal processes, then the technology-specialist expertise of independent consultants and service firms.  The challenge is in melding the knowledge.

Realcomm’s Young: Where is ‘wireless connectivity’ on the list of corporate real estate priorities?  How long will we find it acceptable to see people pressing up to windows and running outside in an attempt to get a signal?

Zurich’s Clute:  Robust antenna networks are high on Zurich’s list. We’re investing in connectivity inside and outside the building. We can’t depend solely on cellular service providers to add bandwidth capacity.

Ericsson’s Buckley: Spotty cell phone service is causing employee dissatisfaction and prospective tenants to walk away from deals with landlords. Wireless service bandwidth expectations are being written into contracts.

Realcomm’s Young: What impact is IoT Innovation having in workplaces?

Lynxspring’s Petock:  First,  devices and sensors providing data to better run and operate our buildings — that was a concept in commercial buildings well before the term Internet of Things became so popular.  Today there’s a multitude more devices in an intelligent building. We want to enable the efficient transmission of the data, and we are seeing the architecture flatten.  IoT is having that impact.

Lutron’s Dauskurdas:  Lighting and shading is part of an IoT strategy. Zone-level lighting control is working for most today. Where we do see demand for individual control is the motorized shading.  You need granular control to offset the glare that comes from the sun.  With the increasing use of glass for skin, glare is a major issue in commercial workspaces. Intelligent shading is a key element in the Shanghai Tower, for example. This project has thousands of shades that respond to daylight.

Realcomm’s Young: How will Corporate Real Estate deal with wearable devices, for example someone walking into a meeting wearing Google glass? What are the security implications?

Zurich’s Clute:  It’s the era of BYOD. HR defining and communicating about policy is a first step. We track devices. If a policy is breached, the IT department has the right to wipe an employee device.

Young:  If we’re going to take automation to the next step, corporate real estate needs standards. What are you doing to learn about them and embrace them?  We all want one address and one way to communicate that address. 

Zurich’s Clute:  Standards make our job easier. We don’t have to reinvent.  Starting in 2003, we were writing adherence to standard protocols into our contracts with our service providers. 

Realcomm’s Young : How do corporate real estate executives deal with such a huge list of technology vendors?

Yardi’s Fritz: You are looking for a vendor that you can forge a partnership with, a vendor that has a track record for improving on solutions.

The need for discussion and cross-pollination of ideas like this is what makes events like CoRE Tech so vital to the industry. Last Thursday’s webinar was a good taste of that dynamic. You can listen to the whole session here. 

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