Distributors ‘Building’ Expanded Customer Base
As the electronics industry continues to respond to demand for more energy-efficient technologies, the supply chain has adapted its service model to support a broader range of customers. Amidst all the hype surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT), electronics distributors have begun aligning their linecards and human resources to support a subset of the IoT: a smart-building industry that is finally poised to accelerate.
The original equipment manufacturers in the building automation, HVAC and security markets are familiar customers to the distribution industry. But as these OEMs become part of an expanding smart-building ecosystem, distributors are calling on a different type of customer. “Having been in the solid state lighting business we realized the customer base we served was unique,” said Jamie Singerman, Corporate Vice President of Future Lighting Solutions. “These customers were transitioning from a traditional technology – electrical lighting — to a disruptive technology. That creates a need for a different level of support. Just as customers were looking at a new lighting source, they are now looking at the convergence of wireless, energy management and industrial control, which creates opportunities for distribution at the system level.”
After several years of slower-than-expected growth, smart building technology is ready to take off, according to market research firm IDC. Building owners and key decision makers are seeing the value of optimized facility management through the convergence of information technology and building automation. “We call it the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)” said Keith Kufahl, a TTI Inc. Industrial Market Manager. “We see the advances that LED has driven in regard to green [energy savings] and now the economies of scale [of smart devices] are becoming more apparent to companies in building, construction and related industries.” IDC forecasts that the smart building market will grow in excess of 22 percent through 2019, from $6.3 billion in 2014 to $17.4 billion in 2019.