5 min read

#52: We need action, not just analytics

Nexus turns 1, cleantech investments 2.0, back to the office, spatial analytics, and Google's plan for scaling smart
“I would recommend the Nexus Foundations course to any newbie to the industry (like I was), it gives the full story from start to finish.”

—Sean Amyot, Oxford Properties

Good morning!

Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter, podcast, and membership community for smart people applying smart building technology—written by James Dice. If you’re new to Nexus, you might want to start here.

Here’s an outline of this week’s newsletter:

  1. 🤔 On my mind this week: what a year it’s been
  2. 📚 What I’m reading: great insights on cleantech investment boom, back to the office, and exactly how to drive business value with spatial analytics
  3. 💡 New from Nexus: check out last week’s podcast on Google’s plan for smart buildings at scale
  4. 🧐 New to me: Next virtual power plants
  5. 🧱 Foundations: what the alumni are saying…


1. 🤔 On my mind this week

This week’s edition is #52, which means we’ve been at this newsletter thing for a whole year, my friends!

When I wrote the first edition, I was so scared to send it out I almost threw up. A year later, this little weekly writing habit has led to opportunities and growth I never could have imagined at that fearful moment.

After leaning into it, I’ve learned there’s actually something beautiful happening there. Feeling like you’re going to barf is your body’s way of trying to hide… trying to feel safe. When it happens, it’s a sign you’re onto something good. That’s where the magic is. ✨

Is there something you’re wanting to do this week that you’re quite scared of? Please, for all of us… just send it.

2. 📚 What I’m reading


How VCs can avoid another bloodbath as the cleantech boom 2.0 begins—A new cleantech investment boom is building again, which is exciting. This great piece takes a look at the last cleantech boom and outlines why it’s different this time around.

The bigger issue was that startups still deep in the research-and-development stage were a poor fit with the venture capital industry, which was counting on the sorts of high three- to five-year returns that it enjoyed in software.

The article talks a lot about the technological breakthroughs needed in cleantech and how they present an investment risk. I would argue that smart buildings are one cleantech market where the tech/scientific breakthroughs aren’t the problem: we know exactly how to create a smart, energy-efficient building.


We're Never Going Back—Packy McCormick’s Not Boring edition on when we’re going back to the office. The title says it all. He backs this up by showing where remote work currently sits on the Gartner Hype Cycle and points out (correctly, IMO) the stuff a lot of people in the CRE/proptech industry are a bit afraid to admit.

Like any major dislocation, that presents massive opportunities for those who are prepared and is going to completely run over those who aren’t.

If he’s right, there are (obvi) huge implications for commercial real estate. Do you agree?


The need for "Intelligent Actions"​ and not just "Data"​ in Proptech/CREtech—Microsoft’s Srinivas Khandavilli shares an excellent analysis on Space Management / Analytics services. Nexus readers will see lots of overlap between his insights here and the themes I cover for other types of analytics.

Analytics are great, but (1) someone needs to do something with the insights to drive results (there’s a human-in-the-loop), meaning the technology needs to be integrated into a human’s workflow. And (2) it would be nice to close the loop and operate the building automatically based on those insights (advanced supervisory control).

I believe that the vendors that are able to drive more business outcomes as opposed to just providing data to end customers will be the true winners in this space.

This installment of NEXUS is free for everyone. If you would like to get full access to all content, join the NEXUS Pro community. Members get exclusive access to the Nexus Vendor Landscape, monthly events, weekly deep dives, and all past deep dives.

Join NEXUS Pro

3. 💡 New from NEXUS

  • 🎧 #029: Google's plan for smart buildings at scale—A fascinating conversation about analytics, data modeling, and supervisory control at scale—doing it worldwide. Of course, we covered the digital building ontology effort as well, where the team is trying to make a lot of their data modeling work public, so that others can take advantage of it.
  • Episode #29 reaction: why Google created their own ontology—My reaction, top highlights, and a full transcript (Pro members only)

4. 🧐 New to me

Even though the Nexus Vendor Landscape has over 100 vendors on it, I still learn about new companies/products to track every week.

Here is this week’s discovery:

Next—European virtual power plant company with seemingly good traction.

A large number of small, distributed energy resources (DERs) is about to replace conventional power plants.

5. 🧱 Foundations

Student exit surveys are rolling in from Cohort 1 of our Foundations course. I had fun updating the course website with some of them this week. Here are a few I’m proud of:

“I really enjoyed how you packaged the course material into processes/tools that I can actually put into action. With this I can start standardizing/track the progress of our Smart Building program going forward!”


“My biggest concern before enrolling was that the course would be too general (something I see too often). The result was the opposite; The course was really practical and full of real world examples.”


“An eye-opening course on a very complex topic. Nexus has developed a very comprehensive approach to how smart building development can tailor solutions, anticipate problems, and smooth implementation. It's super for the virtual context, and James does a great job making the material and the other students approachable. It even has applications outside the smart-building context!”


Early bird pricing for Cohort #2 (which kicks off in late February 2021) is available now and will run until midnight on 12/31/2020. If you’re interested in taking the course, I recommend enrolling sometime before then to reserve your spot and capture the discount.

OK, that’s all for this week—thanks for reading Nexus!