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Partnering Is a Critical Component of Building Technology Market Evolution

Oct 04, 2018

Smart Home 2

Commercial building technology providers should place a high priority on developing a cohesive and comprehensive partnering strategy to capitalize on growing opportunities in today’s commercial building technology markets. The rationale for this is simple. Provide more value and complete end-to-end solutions to end use customers including building owners and operators, building occupants, and even the community at large. This strategy also benefits the vendors themselves. New building technologies, business models, and unique solution sets are helping to expand the overall market while allowing vendors of all sizes and ages to participate. Partnering allows both large and small vendors to grow market share and market opportunities while broadening their offerings into new areas.  

Smaller Companies Need to Be Clever and Flexible

Incumbent building technology vendors such as Trane, Schneider Electric, Honeywell, and others enjoy strong branding and market presence that have endured for many decades. These companies have vast resources available to them to serve the markets that they target. Startups and smaller companies in the commercial building technology markets may not have the depth of resources and experience that these larger players have. They can, however, be nimbler in devising unique product, software, and service solutions, or they can quickly pivot into areas where they find a new market niche. For example, First Fuel, originally a virtual energy audit company selling direct to end users, pivoted to become a successful utility customer engagement platform. This nimbleness, along with the prospect of greater returns on invested capital, help to ensure that building technologies continue to evolve on a curve that is steeper than the incumbents would normally drive on their own.

Partnerships Are Beneficial for Companies Large and Small
When the large building incumbents include these new startup technologies in current projects, it lends credibility to the technology, expands the pool of potential solutions, and provides leading edge solutions to end use customers. Johnson Controls and several other building incumbents, for example, have created startup partnership programs to more fully develop these relationships. For the smaller startup companies, this scenario provides a more direct avenue to market participation and increases their credibility as a company and building technology provider. Ultimately, the end users, including building owners/operators and the building’s occupants, benefit with more comprehensive solutions to efficiency, better building services, and a deeper understanding of the building itself.