Siemens’ Acquisition Of Comfy Is A Vote Of Confidence For Building Occupant Mobile Apps

On 26th June, global technology firm Siemens announced the acquisition of Comfy, a workplace app provider. Comfy was launched in 2013 and has since then been the flagbearer of the mobile-first app providers. Comfy directly integrates with existing building automation, IT networks and IoT systems to provide on-demand control and smart automation. The Comfy app enables building occupants to make immediate adjustments to local indoor temperatures and lighting, find and book rooms and desks, and provide feedback on workspaces. This announcement follows hot on the heels of Siemens’ acquisition of J2 Innovations, a software framework provider for building automation, and Enlighted, a provider of smart IoT systems in buildings with digital sensory systems as a core element. All three firms will operate as independent legal entities post acquisition.

These three acquisitions demonstrate Siemens’ commitment to offering user-centric products for buildings, and the firm’s expansion of its digital portfolio into the workplace management software market. While the market for apps is very small, the fundamental trend of aiming products at the building users rather than the engineers and facilities teams is one of the biggest themes that will shape the next 10 years of product development. To quantify this, our 2017 global survey of corporate real estate found that 71% of executives deem how users interact with their buildings either a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ market trend (see the infographic below). Giving users the tools to interact with their built environment, whether that is through adjustments to lighting, heating, shutters or requests for services like room or catering bookings, requires building automation capabilities, smart lighting and innovative mobile apps to really work.

Verdantix Global Real Estate Energy Facilities Survey 2017 Budgets Priorities 03

Going forward, what should we expect from these acquisitions? From Siemens’ perspective, it gives them a string of innovative firms to capitalize on the growing relevance of smart buildings in the real estate sector. From Comfy’s perspective, having the commercial backing and reputational capital of Siemens behind them will help propel their growth trajectory. And that backing could be critical given that no one has yet developed a fully commercialized app that comprehensively caters to all building occupant needs. A lack of customer awareness of the benefits of apps, the difficulty of getting occupants to use such apps on a daily or weekly basis and the IT security hurdles vendors must overcome to get a deployment off the ground, are all persistent barriers. But the Siemens ecosystem Comfy now sits in is the right environment to expand and deepen their app’s functionalities and relevance to end-users.

For a deep dive look into the latest developments in user-centric products for buildings, watch out for the next Verdantix Smart Innovators report on Building Occupant Mobile Apps, scheduled for publication in July 2018. In the meantime, sign up to our webinar this Thursday: Selecting an Innovative Fault Detection, Diagnostics and Predictive Maintenance Solution To Boost Equipment Uptime – 4pm British Time, 11am Eastern Standard Time and 8am Pacific Standard Time.

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