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What Can Facilities Managers Learn About Smart Buildings? Find Out at IoT Evolution Expo 2020

By Ken Briodagh
February 11, 2020

IoT Evolution Expo 2020 is coming up fast, and we interviewed several of our speakers to get a bit of a preview of what to expect from their sessions.

Here, we interviewed panelist Terrill Laughton, Vice President and General Manager, Energy Optimization and Connected Offerings, Digital Solutions at Johnson Controls, who will be taking the stage as part of the Smart Buildings for Facilities Managers panel at IoT Evolution Expo 2020, which is taking place February 11 to 14 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

To attend this session, click here to register.

Here is a little preview of his thoughts:

IoT Evolution: Can you identify a few important trends influencing your sector of the IoT which will shape the path of the industry? Why these?

Terrill Laughton: As technology continues to improve, we’re seeing multiple trends emerge in the smart building and IoT space. Most notably around personalization to improve ROI and data trustworthiness.

Today, we’re seemingly able to control almost every aspect of our lives through smart devices we carry with us everywhere, such as our smartphones. Software applications that allow us to order transportation easily, access our home security cameras while on vacation and even pay bills during our commute. The same expectations of simple management and improved personalization are moving to the workplace environment.

Building efficiency features can lead to employee wellness and satisfaction through proper air circulation and temperature control, for example. With smart technology apps, a workplace environment co-managed by facility professionals and employees is possible. These apps can allow occupants to adjust building environment variables like heating, cooling and lighting to create their own perfect work setting that meets their unique needs. These apps can also be configured to allow conference room booking, locate colleagues within their building, and navigate to meeting rooms and other spaces. With these apps, employees are empowered to take control of their day-to-day workplace experience and increase their productivity.

There are also a lot of conversations around data right now. Its value continues to increase, whether as something that can be monetized for profit or savings, or in terms of improving understanding and operations for a business that uses it effectively. That’s why the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning — which allow us to quickly gain insights from vast quantities of data that was previously siloed — has been such an incredible revolution. Most are gaining actionable insights from smart systems, but how do we stay accountable in the age of the machine? How do we know we can trust the data and resulting insights when human beings are a lesser part of the equation?

In order to trust the data, it is critical to maintain a transparent pathway back to that raw data that can be accessed easily to have full insight into the decision-making process of AI and machine learning. With any decision, made from human or machine, it is important to establish a logic chain for accountability and peace of mind. Then it becomes possible to understand why they make the recommendations they do and provides accountability and the opportunity to adjust accordingly for a smarter building.

IoTE: What are the biggest challenges facing the IoT right now? What are some strategies you recommend to overcome those challenges?

TL: As technologies associated with the IoT like AI and Machine Learning become more readily available, there are of course challenges associated with the shift. That being said,a Deloitte Industry 4.0 survey of 361 executives across 11 countries shows that 94% report digital transformation as their organization’s top strategic initiative, so it’s imperative that anticipating and being able to effectively address challenges in order toachieve success.

Three of the most pressing challenges facing IoT right now include:

  • Smart(er)Solutions: With such rapid change acrossthe IoT, finding solutions that work with existing infrastructure and anticipate future updates can be challenging but ensures that projects are cost-effective and accessible for various business types and sizes while maximizing ROI. Technologies that can be integrated with each other and monitored from a central location unite previously siloed systems like security, HVAC, and even conference room booking while giving a full picture of what’s working and what’s not.
  • Cyberattacks: The more advanced IoT solutions become and the more they rely on data to make their decisionsthe more prone that information is to breaches without appropriate mechanisms in place to prevent them. There are solutions that can quickly identify potential threats or bad actors by looking at who is accessing data and even when-if a hospital worker is logging in while off duty, for example.Integrating IT and OT will also become more and more important, as well as following best practices to ensure proactive measures are being taken to address potential threats.
  • Cost and ROI Concerns: The upfront cost of investing in IoT solutions that make a building smart ready can be intimidating for businesses without unlimited budget. Hardware, software and applications are an investment. However, there’s an incredible cost-benefit of investing in this infrastructure. It helps move from a reactive to proactive operations approach. Rather than waiting for a chiller to malfunction and cause long downtime or for a security camera to be found to be non-operational when it’s needed most, facility professionals can get alerts as soon as something is wrong before it becomes a larger problem.

One of the most important pieces of ensuring success is bringing in experts early in the planning process. This ensures that technologies implemented are appropriate for the goals the organization is hoping to achieve with their investment while staying within their means, whether it be saving on energy, improving employee productivity or more effectively managing their building systems. These goals differ based on the specific mission, priorities and financial resources of an organization, such as deciding which features of a solution are needed, if that solution needs to be built out to accommodate various needs or determining priorities in accordance with budget. As to the type of organization, a hospital will have different priorities than an office building or a sports venue.

IoTE: Which vertical markets have the most to gain from IoT implementation? Which are leading and which are still behind the adoption curve?

TL: Any organization stands to gain from IoT implementation if it’s successful, regardless of vertical market. These benefits come from a myriad of sources: energy savings and associated decreases in utility costs, increasing the productivity of employees within a building or more effectively understanding and managing building systemsfor optimal use of space and resources. The challenge comes to those who lack the capital and/or leadership to effectively implement. So, for example, a healthcare facility with limited access to capital but with leadership that has a strong desire to invest in IoT solutions will find a way, whether it’s through funding options, grants, or another way. A larger organization, whether it be in the healthcare field, a corporate headquarters or anything else, may have access to capital but lack the leadership willing to make the change.

Register now for the IoT Evolution Expo and Get 20% off your full conference with code IoTTime and be there for all the information you need to drive your IoT strategy in 2020.   


Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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