Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading resource for security and fire news in the industry. James was previously Editor of Professional Heating & Plumbing Installer magazine.
July 28, 2020

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“Security systems have a key role to play within a smart building”, highlights Omdia analyst


Thomas Barquin, Senior Analyst – Smart Buildings, Omdia

IFSEC Global speaks to Thomas Barquin, Senior Analyst in smart buildings at global research company, Omdia, to discuss the expertise the business has to offer and the findings from its latest smart building survey report.

Q: Hi Thomas. Firstly, for those readers who may be unaware of Omdia, can you explain a little more about what you do?

I am a Senior Analyst at Omdia and currently responsible for the research and analysis of the global smart buildings market. Omdia is a global technology research powerhouse, established in 2019 following the merger of the research division of Informa Tech and the acquired IHS Markit technology research portfolio, Ovum, Tractica and Heavy Reading. Omdia connects the dots across the entire tech ecosystem to better predict and shape our clients’ business outcomes.

For example, did you know that COVID-19’s greatest impact on tech will be a more comprehensive shift to digital technologies and services? That’s the kind of insight we bring to clients.

Q: And what market research specialisms do you have in the security sector? Do different analysts work on different topic areas so they can build their expertise?

At Omdia, we have an extensive coverage of security technology markets, encompassing access control and fire, cyber security, digital ID, critical communications and video surveillance. Our team of analysts has been covering these topics for many years and their studies are very mature and well-established in the industry.

As far as my smart buildings research is concerned, its focus is on building platforms, including BMS and security integration platforms, and how certain pieces of equipment (lighting, physical security and HVAC etc.) connect through these platforms in buildings, including through which connectivity solution. Individual sub-systems within a building have long operated in silo, however, the current trend is headed towards a greater connected environment.

Omdia connects the dots to reveal the value of the building’s intelligent environment through the Smart Buildings research. With the smart buildings market standing at over $14 million already in 2019 across connected equipment – including physical security and energy equipment – and software, there are plenty of insights to be revealed with our cross-domain analysis.      

Q: One of your most recent projects is the Smart Building End Users Survey Report, can you tell us a little more about this?

In collaboration with Informa Markets, Omdia has conducted a survey of smart building technology end users, including facility managers, building owners, IT managers, security managers and senior executives. Answers were collected between March and April 2020, and the main objective was to collect views from end users on smart building technologies to better understand the current market trends, including the industry’s ambitions and challenges.

You can download a free snapshot of the Smart Buildings End Users Survey Report from Omdia, here.

Q: If you could pick out three key findings from the report, what would they be?

Firstly, in analysing why end-users adopt smart building technologies, it was clear that the primary reason was to manage costs. In fact, long term savings and cutting energy usage/costs were ranked as the two main influencers for end users when it comes to deploying smart-building technologies in their facilities. Though, users’ focus on cost management is not surprising given that this area has long been perceived as the key driver behind the investment in smart-building technologies.

Then, the report highlights that the smart building industry still faces challenges and obstacles, such as the prevalence of legacy systems in existing non-residential buildings, which is ranked as the biggest challenge for end-users when implementing IoT and/or smart building technologies. Existing buildings often depend upon legacy systems to store and process data, slowing the transition towards smarter buildings.

Finally, despite these challenges, smart building end-users are willing to invest further in smart building technologies and are looking for solutions that offer both flexibility and usability. For instance, end-users are mostly in favour of using BMS platforms and equipment as-a-service solutions, as this business model offers end-users access to smart building technologies at a reduced up-front cost.

Q: Were there any surprising outcomes?

One of the most surprising outcomes was that equipment/systems that do not perform as specified was one of the two most cited issues that end users encountered in the first year of using their smart building technologies. There are lots of technologies available to end users on the market, but it appears that some of them are yet to prove their reliability and performance. Quality is key for end users in this sector, and often they are reluctant to invest in solutions/software that have not yet showed that they function effectively and perform as specified.

Q: The report found that 40% of end-users aren’t analysing the data collected from their facilities. Why do you think it is that smart building end-users are not fully utilising the benefits of the technologies? And how can they overcome this problem?

In fact, over 40% of respondents do not analyse building data from their facilities to identify variations and patterns that can improve the buildings’ operation and management. Omdia believes that one of the main reasons for that is the lack of employee skills, knowledge and experience to oversee a BMS platform and use the data derived from connected equipment and IoT devices.

Smart building technologies are only as good as the people who use them, so training and support from smart building vendors will need to become a key part of solutions. BMS platform vendors and connected equipment manufacturers should pursue opportunities to educate employees for the latter to operate the solutions in the best possible way and bring value to the building.

Q: How crucial is security to a smart building? And what data can smart security systems offer to end-users to support their job roles?

There are many individual sub-systems to consider within a smart building, and security systems have a particularly key role to play as they keep buildings and visitors safe and secure, often creating a comfortable and productive environment. In 2019, security equipment represented around 34% of total revenues for equipment connected through BMS platforms, with access control having the highest attach rate with BMS platforms.

As previously mentioned, the current trend in buildings is towards a greater connected environment and this also applies to security solutions. As a result, integrations among security domains and with other equipment is increasing, which creates vast opportunities for vendors and end-users. Integrating security domains, for instance, benefits security managers by consolidating the data into a single platform or application, with all security alarms and notifications sent to a focal point on a single user interface. Subsequently, security managers can monitor developments across all domains at once, video footage of suspected intrusions can be reviewed instantaneously, false alarms can be quickly identified and data from each security domain can be aggregated to present a complete picture of the status of a building.

Finally, in the light of the current pandemic, the focus is to create buildings that are safe for employees and visitors and smart security systems can help reaching these objectives. A key example of this could be the integration of smart technologies that can detect fevers or other key symptoms, and help offices create different working ‘zones’ in case of contamination. Equipment such as thermal cameras to identify people with fever and frictionless security could see a boost in sales in the coming months.

Find out more information about the expert research undertaken by Omdia in the security, fire and smart buildings sector. 

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