M2M Smart Buildings: It’s More than Just Home Automation

If you watch even a little bit of television, you are likely to have seen commercials displaying the wonders of home automation by now. AT&T, for instance, has aired spots that show how easy it can be to adjust your thermostat or activate your security system or communicate with a growing number of the Internet of Things, with just the touch of a smartphone button. Gone are the days of worrying about whether you forgot to set the alarm or left the air conditioning on before leaving on a 10-day vacation.

While home automation certainly offers numerous financial and convenience-related benefits, the advantages of machine-to-machine (M2M) commercial building automation has not been widely publicized thus far. For businesses looking to increase operational efficiency, however, this technology may be indispensable in the years to come.

According to a recent report from Navigant Research entitled “Commercial Building Automation Systems,” annual revenue from commercial building automation is expected to increase from $56.9 billion in 2013 to $100.8 billion by 2021. Automated HVAC, lighting, fire, security, and access systems represent major opportunities for companies willing to invest in such technology today. Amazingly, Navigant predicts that these infrastructure and energy-use improvements could result in a 12 percent reduction of total global energy use by the commercial sector.    

“Building automation systems continue to evolve from point solutions built from proprietary products toward open and integrated systems converged with modern information technologies,” says Eric Bloom, senior research analyst with Navigant Research.

For a practical example of how building automation can help your business save money, imagine that you are a warehouse manager who notices that employees are often forgetting to turn one bank of lights off before leaving at night. Your electricity bill is eating through a chunk of your profits and no matter how many times you send out reminder emails, it seems at least once a week you arrive in the morning to find that the lighting system wasn’t completely shut down.

Implementing a lighting control automation solution can help solve this problem once and for all. Automated lighting gives you remote access to your system, ensuring that you can use exactly as much energy as you need—and no more. Best of all, despite some assumptions made by those who are unfamiliar with the technology, such best-in-class systems are incredibly easy to install. You don’t have to worry about extra wiring or going through a series of complex steps in order to connect to the host software server; simply connect the network device to the lighting controller at the location and complete access registration and you are good to go.

With energy costs continuing to rise and the global economy still on relatively shaky ground, businesses everywhere are looking for ways to streamline operations and be as efficient as technology will allow. Considering Navigant’s prediction about sector growth, companies that wait even a few years to adopt building automation may be far behind competitors already turning toward such technology. The only question that remains then is this one: will you be a building automation leader, or a follower?