10 min read

My (updated) framework for evaluating new smart building technology

...and a call for feedback from the Pros
“This framework is incredible for understanding the difference between technologies.”

—Nexus Foundations student

In Module 4 of the Nexus Foundations course, we provide students a simple framework to use when researching new technology in our space. This framework is also a companion guide to the Nexus Vendor Landscape. Today, I’m sharing it with you Pro members and would love your feedback on how the framework and/or landscape could be improved upon.

Back to the course: At this point in the journey, the students have done the hard work required to understand key stakeholders, develop use cases grounded in human workflows, and assess the existing systems to understand the integration requirements.

In other words, they now have identified The Gap—that void between their existing systems and the use cases for new technology.

So how can new technology fill the gap?

Well, let’s first acknowledge that getting to this point is actually pretty rare. Most companies don’t do this work upfront. What I hear the most is that people jump straight to new technology because they don’t want to get left behind. Everybody is talking about AI, digital twin, analytics, etc, so we must need that too! Let’s do a pilot, they say…

That’s a reaction, not a decision, and certainly not a strategic decision. There are a lot of meetings in our industry that happen just like the meeting in this comic strip…

Making this problem worse is this phenomenon I’ve noticed where we often aren’t actually talking about the same things. I can’t tell you how many one-hour meetings I’ve been in where the first 55 minutes are spent getting on the same page…

What does the technology do? How does it relate to the technology we already have? How does it compare to the other technologies we’re evaluating?

This issue is further exacerbated when, even if we’re using the same terminology, we have differing definitions for the same words.

What do you mean when you say analytics? Energy management system? Energy management information system? Building management system? Building energy management system? Facility-related control system? IoT platform? Digital Twin?

It’s overwhelming.

Acronyms and names that can mean pretty much the same thing are getting lost in translation. Lots of time is being wasted because we’re talking in circles.

I’ve seen the consequences of this first hand: When building owners are confused, they slow down purchases, do nothing, or purchase a lousy product that doesn’t meet their needs and sets them back for years.

So today’s deep dive is centered around a framework I use to cut through that noise and confusion and answer the “What is it?” question.

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