Movers & Shakers Interview with Steve Nguyen (SN), VP of Product & Marketing at BuildingIQ.
May 18, 2018
Steve Nguyen leads product and marketing at BuildingIQ that brings a suite of cloud-based energy intelligence services to the commercial, healthcare, education, and other building markets. Steve joined BuildingIQ from Bidgely, where he ran the marketing department and helped utilities better engage consumers with their energy use through the power of disaggregation. Prior to Bidgely, he ran corporate marketing and embedded solutions product marketing at the Internet of Things (IoT) pioneer, Echelon–helping shape the market for today’s smart buildings and early markets for smart homes and the smart grid. Steve helped introduced the world’s first 1:1 motion tracking controller for 3D immersive virtual reality gaming and created a multi-author, multi-threaded writing platform. He holds a B.S. from Brandeis University and an M.B.A. from Boston College.
Vishal Sapru (VS), Research Manager for Energy Storage & Critical Power Group, had an opportunity to conduct a Movers & Shakers interview with Steve Nguyen (SN), VP of Product & Marketing at BuildingIQ.
VS: Can you start by providing our readers a brief overview of BuildingIQ including the vision behind its formation and current role in the market?
SN:BuildingIQ provides technology-enabled services to help building owners and operators around the globe save energy, increase operational efficiency, and improve tenant comfort. Through its 5i cloud-based platform and the IoT, BuildingIQ can visualize, analyze, control, and optimize energy usage within a single facility, campus, or portfolio of buildings. BuildingIQ’s offerings are built to augment the role of the facility manager, adding more efficiency to day-to-day lives. The technology fills a significant role within the market by being able to transform any building into an intelligent building.
VS: Please describe your product/technology/solution for our readers? How different is it from what is already available in the market?
SN: BuildingIQ’s 5i platform and services provide a solution to any building, regardless of its age or sophistication. The platform is built on five pillars, including human capital, data capture analysis, advanced modeling, control, and measurement and verification to optimize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) performance. The combination of these five unique elements provides a comprehensive approach to the Buildings Internet of Things (IoT) and creates a Digital Twin of a building that can be used to virtually test countless scenarios to arrive at the most efficient path to energy savings.
One pillar in particular—Control—is key to differentiating our offerings from others. We actually predict energy needs for the building based on weather forecasts, a thermal model of the building, and energy pricing (or demand) and close the loop with control.
Finally, we have just introduced our Mobile App. With the BuildingIQ Mobile App, facilities teams now have access to BuildingIQ’s 5i platform while on-the-go. The app allows facilities teams to identify and submit issues to streamline building maintenance. The BuildingIQ Mobile App also engages tenants to determine their comfort levels and updates the facilities team accordingly. We’ll be integrating the right set of capabilities in the app to make life simpler and easier for facility folks, and when facility teams choose to enable it, provide an engaging experience for tenants to have them participate more deeply via the app’s optional comfort module.
VS: What is BuildingIQ’s greatest challenge and what strategy is in place to overcome it?
SN: One of the biggest challenges is the need to continually educate the building management industry on the potential of IoT within buildings and how technology can be used in conjunction with human expertise to optimize building energy efficiency. In addition to educating building owners and facilities teams, we’ve found that it can be effective to include our offerings early in a build cycle.
We’ve also found ways to implement our technology in buildings through strong partnerships with efficiency leaders. We work with Smardt Chiller to do water-side optimization for HVAC operations, while our recent partnership with Cypress Envirosystems, a provider of wireless pneumatic thermostat solutions, has allowed us to add/expand digital twinning capabilities in most buildings and deliver its benefits to the older building stock.
VS: What is the unique value proposition of BuildingIQ and what are your key competitive differentiators?
SN: BuildingIQ’s biggest differentiator is its ability to provide closed-loop control to optimize energy usage within a building’s HVAC system by using predictive analytics. This is our most sophisticated technology-enabled service, which can be applied across an entire portfolio of buildings. However, not every building is prepared for such an advanced solution, which is why our platform can be used for a range of services that can help at any stage of the building lifecycle.
Another unique element we offer is outcome-based fault detection. Our direct competitors have not touched this space. The few companies that offer fault detection tend to be solely dedicated to it; they neither provide optimization, commissioning, and control services, nor have visualization capabilities. BuildingIQ’s ability to package all of these versatile, yet critical, functions into a single platform helps facility managers and building owners better manage a building.
VS: What is your strategy with regard to offering a better value to customer for the price compared to similar offerings from competitors, if any?
SN: BuildingIQ is offered on a subscription basis that guarantees results. The cloud-based software works with a building’s existing building management system (BMS) and adds efficiency to a facility’s existing infrastructure. With no large upfront capital requirements, the platform pays for itself as buildings are essentially enrolling for free savings.
VS: Continued innovation is the key to success in this growing industry. How is the process of innovation managed at BuildingIQ?
SN: A part of our R&D effort is funded by Australian tax incentives. We have three-year R&D core concept plans that we work toward. These core concepts are steps in a long-term vision road map, against which we progressively track. To help guide the direction of our R&D efforts, we work directly with customers to identify areas where there are gaps in market offerings and a requirement for innovative solutions. We then develop strategies to create new solutions to be included as part of our technology-enabled services.
VS: What do you want the company to accomplish in the next couple of years and how would you define success for BuildingIQ?
SN: The simple metric for success is to maintain increasing revenue and growth targets. We want to grow our serviced building stock and increase market penetration into large portfolio owners. We are specifically interested in commercial, healthcare, and educational facilities. Geographically, the Singaporean and Canadian markets are quite attractive for further expansion. From a technical perspective, we’ll be focusing on developing broader and deeper analytic and diagnosis tools—the former to enable scale and the latter to get to root cause of anomalies and correlations among seemingly unrelated components in buildings. Additionally, we’ll be continually enhancing our core IP in modeling, optimization, and diagnosis, which is typically measured in our ability to deliver material value to our customers at a reasonable margin.
VS: Could you elaborate on the acceptance or adoption of your product/solution in the marketplace? Are there any positive client testimonials that can be shared with us?
SN: There is more than 100M square feet of buildings space that is under the management of BuildingIQ’s platform. In a recent project with St John of God Murdoch Hospital in Australia, we significantly reduced the structure’s overall projected energy consumption via data visualization, fault detection, and closed-loop control of specific HVAC zones. Despite only managing half of the 413,872-square feet hospital, our IoT-based solution reduced the facility's HVAC energy projected consumption by 10 percent and its overall projected energy consumption by 5 percent. It was even able to reduce energy by 50,000 kWh in a single month.
VS: Do you foresee the acceptance of your product/technology/solution in the marketplace to have an influence on the direction of the overall market going forward?
SN: Yes, we know that none of the big BMS providers are currently focused on prediction. Our unique technology will lead the market in that direction.
VS: As a general conclusion, what do you think the future holds for such solutions and, more specifically, what role can we expect BuildingIQ to play in shaping the future of the industry?
SN: BuildingIQ’s ability to balance tenant comfort, energy consumption, and operational efficiency is the future of facility management. Doing so without a huge expense involves better access to data, data science invention to get more out of date, and a lessening of the inertia that, in some cases, prevents clients from adopting new technologies. In the end, we and our competitors just need to prove that our solutions work, repeatedly and reliably.
VS: What are your company’s marketing and product positioning strategies? Do you plan to form any strategic alliances/partnerships?
SN: We are always looking to form new partnerships that could benefit existing and potential customers. We’ve already mentioned our relationship with companies such as Cypress Envirosystems and Smardt Chiller and anticipate more partnerships. While we’ll stick to our core IP and the value chain as defined, there are certainly gaps that will be filled, and opportunities to work with complementary solutions that expand ours, and our partners’, abilities to benefit end clients. Ideally, these are 1 1 = 3 type integrations and not simply additive.
VS: What kind of customer feedback mechanism do you have in place to ensure that the product development and innovation matches market and customer needs?
SN: We conduct non-promotional surveys to gather customer feedback on an ongoing basis. The product team also does one-on-one meetings with customers to explore viable solutions more in depth. Overall, it is a combination of direct customer feedback and market analysis that drives innovation at BuildingIQ.
VS: How do you compare yourself with top competitors with regard to offering best-in-class solutions, with a full complement of features and functionality?
SN: Many building owners and managers may feel that the building they manage is vendor-locked by the equipment that is already implemented. Our approach is agnostic in nature. Hence, we are able to work with any building infrastructure, whether it’s new or existing. With solutions that range from ticket management to retro-commissioning to closed-loop control that tunes a building's HVAC settings 24/7, there is no other offering that is as comprehensive as ours. Since we have a technology-enabled services model augmented with human expertise, we fit into that huge space that spans the buildings of yesterday with the pie-in-the-sky future of pervasive computing for the built environment. As a cloud-based solution, we can make sure that our customers always have the most cutting-edge advances coming from our R&D labs.
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