What's Possible

3 Posts authored by: jkbernd

I recently attended open houses for my kids’ schools and was intrigued by the use of gaming concepts to increase the appeal of certain ho-hum tasks. For example: rewards for good attendance or behavior, points for books read and math challenges to receive extra credit.

 

This concept of making an activity more fun and engaging than it would normally be has been in the news lately, and it’s called “gamification.”

 

Real-world examples

Though gamification is a relatively new concept, the principles are currently being applied in many aspects of your life; you just might not know it:

  • Loyalty programs/frequent flyer miles. The more you fly, the more points you gain, as well as higher levels of status, access to better service and special deals as perks.
  • Wii Fit®. By incorporating games and challenges as part of the workout, the system helps make exercise fun.
  • foursquare®. The social community-driven concept provides badges and deals for checking into locations and enables frequent visitors to become the “mayor.”

 

Gamification at the building/enterprise level

Energy efficiency competitions could be developed for building occupants or tenants to track who saves the most electricity or water. Customer loyalty programs could offer points for products and services purchased. Points would then be redeemed for consulting time from building efficiency experts, additional reports or discounts on new application purchases.

 

How can building management systems be gamified?

As a user, you could improve your status within a building management community, based on completing in-application training or self-help.

You can be rewarded for reaching certain milestones, providing input on new features and functions. It also can allow you to be invited to beta test new applications.

 

By joining community forums, you can share your tips and tricks to earn more points.

 

Keep it beneficial, not cheesy

The key is to distinguish between trivial gamification and a deeper program that respects its users and plays to their needs. The exclusivity in options, services and applications available to the users will be the better motivator over the long term.

Furthermore, clearly defined goals and fair, incremental rewards are two gamification techniques that could motivate and satisfy “Generation Y” in the workforce.

 

How would you add gamification to building systems management?

 

®foursquare is a registered trademark of Foursquare Labs, Inc.

®Wii Fit is a registered trademark of Nintendo of America Inc.

It’s amazing how much we depend on technology in our day-to-day lives. I find it almost impossible to imagine my life without all the technology that I use to make things easier. As a result, from my product management standpoint, I know it’s extremely important to embrace technology in product offerings to maximize value for customers.

 

It is imperative to keep in mind, however, that offering leading-edge technology isn’t enough. Almost as important as the technology is offering technology that fits the needs of customers while providing them access and the ability to utilize technology in the manner in which they prefer and expect.

 

Let me explain further. The demographic of any customer pool is changing every year. In relatively short order, we will see every business’ customer base gradually transition from the Baby Boom Generation to the X and Y generations. Based on our changing society, Gen Xers and Gen Yers will have different expectations of collaboration capabilities within a product than baby boomers have.

 

Importance of Collaboration

  • Gen Yers see technology as an enabler of collaboration (Facebook®, Twitter®, Foursquare®)
  • Gen X and Y employees will collaborate with customers by using social media
  • Customers will collaborate with other customers
  • Product offerings must enable collaboration by integrating with multiple collaboration technologies and social websites

 

Technology does the enabling, but people are at the core of collaboration. Be sure to allow customers access to internal energy efficiency and building optimization experts. When designing new products, think about the personal connection and integrate community forums into the technology.

 

Also, be aware of evolving communication styles. The other day, I answered a text from my daughter ─ with a phone call. I wanted to actually talk to her. But, based on her flustered response (“Um, hey dad ─ did you get my text?”), I think I broke an unwritten rule of Generation Y. Calling her in response to a text was akin to somebody sending me a fax ─ it just didn’t equate!

 

I encourage you to embrace the newest technology and implement socially collaborative tools with all new products. After all, you don’t want to wait for the Pony Express to deliver the message that your customers have passed you by.

In software and web-based architectures, an open platform describes a software system that is based on open standards that enable the use of the software to function in other ways than the original programmer intended. These additional uses can happen without requiring modification of the source code. For example, using an open platform, a third party can integrate with the platform to add functionality.

 

The concept of an open platform creates many opportunities for building systems. In the building automation industry, open platforms enable:

  • Connectivity with a variety of building components
  • Development of applications that enhance data monitoring and management because a variety of developers are able to work with open platform information

 

The concept of an open platform is not a new one, but it’s definitely creating waves in the building efficiency marketplace. Open platforms enable new products to come to market more quickly and maximize the benefits of technologies working together for building efficiency solutions.

 

An open platform environment, where different parts of the value chain are open and interoperable, eliminates work upfront for developers. This means developers can work on adding valuable solutions to systems, rather than having to develop the basis for systems or applications themselves.

 

A best practice is to adopt a layered approach where each of the layers in the solution has a level of openness. The layers include:

  • Control layer (building automation systems [BASs], smart equipment)
    • Doesn’t use proprietary protocols — allows smart equipment to work with any BAS
  • Connectivity and integration layer
    • Allows for connections to any BAS or building system
  • Cloud applications layer
    • Incorporates existing applications, applications in development, or acquired and future third-party applications

 

With an open platform, a niche application for a vertical market can be incorporated with an existing solution to enhance the overall solution. This means you have the ability to choose the applications that meet your needs. The openness of the application layer offers companies the flexibility to fill in the application capability gaps by leveraging an open platform.

 

The use of an open platform is necessary to continue the pace of innovation. The expectation for open platforms will increase because it makes connecting disparate systems easier, drives innovation and development in the industry and in products themselves.

 

Open platforms will help drive technology changes faster while not limiting users’ ability in the process. In the end this creates more flexibility and greater opportunities from end to end. By combining the successful development of new applications with the capabilities of an open platform, more companies will realize what is truly possible with their building management systems.

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