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Special report: Buildings are the biggest energy consumers in the world, accounting for a third of total energy consumption — and an equally significant source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The total cost of powering our nation’s homes and commercial buildings has inexorably risen in recent years — a trend not just in Australia, but around the world.

That’s an opportunity for high-tech companies such as Buddy Platform (ASX:BUD), which offers a resources monitoring solution for commercial, industrial and multi-family residential buildings.

The system is made up of Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and works by connecting with dashboards for monitoring and reducing consumption of services such as electricity, water and gas.

Cost-savings are a key driver of demand for smart buildings — and indeed smart cities.

The global market for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and services for ‘Intelligent Buildings’ is expected to exceed $US22 billion in 2026, according to researcher Navigant.

IDC Research has shown that ‘Smart Cities’ spending will reach $US135 billion by 2021.

There is a trend towards cities around the world adopting smart city policies. The Australian federal government launched a “Smart Cities Plan” in April 2016.

Three steps for smart cities

Smart cities rely on smart building data which must be correctly interpreted before actions can be implemented — and benefits realised.

There are three steps in the process: gathering data, processing and presenting data and taking action.

The focus in the energy sector has for too long been on the first step – gathering the data.

While continued improvement in this area is certain, with mobile carrier developments such as NB-IoT from Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, we are fast approaching the point where a ‘better connected sensor’ leads to limited extra gain for the customer.

The second two steps in the process will be what differentiates IoT providers — the processing of data into something that can be easily understood and actioned.

The lack of clarity here from IoT providers leads to the disconnect between potential benefits and actual benefits, and ultimately leads to missed sales.

Market research conducted by the Internet of Things Institute which recently surveyed facilities managers, owners and occupants of commercial buildings supports this view.

Nearly 70% of facility respondents ranked return on investment as the main deterrent to leveraging smart building technology.

Underpinning the implementation of smart buildings (and therefore smart cities) is IoT technology, such as the Buddy Ohm solution.

Described as a ‘Fitbit for Buildings’, Buddy Ohm not only monitors energy consumption within a building, but its smart technology provides analysis of that data and actionable insights, enabling building managers, owners and occupants to visualise usage, implement actions and solutions to reduce the energy consumption within that building, and efficiently audit energy consumption across a property portfolio.

Smart building technology is an area with massive potential opportunity, but the gatekeepers need some convincing in order to take the plunge.

This is both an awareness and a presentation issue that IoT providers must tackle in order to demonstrate ROI and overcome the final hurdle towards more widespread adoption.

Buddy has positioned itself ahead of this curve, investing in software development and taking cues from the modern design of web and mobile applications, to make it as intuitive as possible for the different audiences that consume data from the Buddy Ohm solution.

It has also recognised (unlike many technology companies) that its solution must show value to multiple stakeholders, not just a building manager or someone with specialist knowledge.

An example of the Buddy dashboard
An example of the Buddy dashboard

The result is a more robust data presentation layer that helps it stand apart from its competitors.

The dashboard above is aimed at executives, building occupants and sustainability managers to quickly digest the value the Buddy Ohm energy monitoring solution is bringing to their business.

Presenting each important metric in customisable tiles gives each customer its own personalised view of the energy footprint of the building.

By allowing for more complex reporting than just the ‘data of the day’, Buddy can show progress towards goals that the executives set for their building and/or teams alongside other metrics that matter to this stakeholder group.

For contrast, in the screenshot above, Buddy aggregates data points that its facility managers will find useful every day in a more complex view than what an executive or tenant needs.

This group cares more about having access to as much data as possible, and in interpreting the data into actions that meet their business goals.

By being able to demonstrate the impact the solution brings to each stakeholder in a way that makes sense for that individual, Buddy is aiming to aggressively drive awareness of the value it brings to its customers in 2018.

Buddy has made considerable progress since its listing on the ASX in 2015, launching its latest Buddy Ohm product in May 2017 and building an impressive distribution and reseller network spanning Australia, the US and Canada, Latin America and Europe.

An example of Buddy's dashboard
An example of Buddy’s dashboard

Its partners include leading Caribbean mobile operator Digicel, global distributor Ingram Micro and Australian hardware distributor Dicker Data.

This is a fast moving and very high growth sector, with a number of listed companies focused on delivering new and novel technologies to reduce energy consumption.

Buddy’s solution is well advanced from both a hardware and software perspective and the company has partnered with a globally recognized set of distribution and reseller partners to drive sell-through of its Buddy Ohm solution.

Buddy raised $23M in October 2017 to drive its global expansion and as this expansion strategy starts to take hold it expects to report continued growth in deployments (and correspondingly, revenue) from Buddy Ohm installations worldwide.

Primary drivers for using technology such as the Buddy Ohm solution are cost savings, environmental initiatives, energy and facility auditing and the desire to increase building situational awareness.

Given recent advances in technology to gather data at low cost, coupled with the rising cost of energy and the drive to reduce energy consumption worldwide, there are big market drivers supporting products like Buddy Ohm.

 

This special report is brought to you by Buddy Platform.

This advice has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, therefore, consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs, before acting on the advice.

If this advice relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular financial product, the recipient should obtain a disclosure document, a Product Disclosure Statement or an offer document (PDS) relating to the product and consider the PDS before making any decision about whether to acquire the product.