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Exploitation potential of building data warehouse service assessed during the workshop

Exploitation potential of building data warehouse service assessed during the workshop

A series of workshops have been organised to discuss the exploitation potential of project achievements. The latest of these took place on 4th February 2016 in Poznan (Poland) as a part of BUDMA fairs, the biggest construction industry meeting in Poland.

Representatives from the PERFORMER project consortium presented the exploitable potential of PERFORMER to the attendees, who formed a cross-section of the industry (ESCOs, BMS suppliers, energy management providers, etc.). The workshop session was used to assess the project’s exploitable results and identify commercialisation potential. The first group discussed the building data warehouse services, while the second group focused on the front-end for PERFORMER visualization tools.

The building data warehouse service is an open source software platform that allows storage and management of data that is typically collected from Building Management Systems (BMS) and other sources that may form part of the PERFORMER solution. As well as providing a facility to upload data and query and retrieve stored data, rules can be applied to filter, clean and check the consistency and the quality of the data.

The workshop participants agreed that the provision of easy and fast access to stored information whilst maintaining data security and privacy were key attributes. The platform API of building data warehouse services is based on standard ‘REST’ (Representational State Transfer) web services in order to be accessible from any kind of client system (there is no limitation to interoperability provided that third-party applications comply with the API specifications). Whilst the workshop attendees considered the interoperability with other ICT tools as having potential to add value, some scepticism of this claim was expressed due to experience with other systems regarding compatibility with all available systems.

Since the building data warehouse service is based on widely accepted open source tools (e.g. Python, Django, KairosDB, Cassandra, etc.) it can be easily expanded (e.g. by incorporating additional functionalities related to quality control or data processing).  The ease with which it can be adapted to the constantly changing market environment was identified as a major benefit.

The workshop identified that the customer segments most likely to benefit from the service would be BMS providers, building energy consultants and building energy managers (in short, those groups that can provide and receive data from the building data warehouse). It was noted during the workshop that a significant proportion of those responsible for building energy management do not possess a technical skill set and often this is not taken into account when designing energy efficiency products and services.  The PERFORMER architecture addresses this by making it possible to generate brief reports with clear instructions for the person in charge of building energy management. Another feature that would increase the marketability of PERFORMER solution is a visualisation option similar to that normally offered by SCADAs (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition systems). Some databases currently available on the market offer simple graphical mechanisms that act as quasi SCADAs systems so this feature was considered to be advantageous. A dedicated visualisation element would ultimately be included in the wider PERFORMER solution. It should be mentioned here that all those extra functionalities (data analysis, reporting, recommendations, visualisation, etc.) should be considered as separate components in the whole PERFORMER architecture.

Another possible competitive advantage would be the availability of technical support during the deployment and operational phases which would make it attractive for both non-technical users or those taking over existing building energy management responsibilities from someone else.

The workshop participants were also asked to indicate the potential revenue streams for the result as well as possible distribution & communication channels. The workshop participants indicated that the best way to generate income (revenue streams) might be through a usage fee rather than one-time asset sale. The usage fee could be imposed on the user monthly, quarterly, etc. and it could be supplemented by an initial one-off fee. Products & services like the building data warehouse service require this type of revenue stream to cover OPEX (operating expenditures) for maintaining data services, customer support, etc. It was pointed out that the usage fee could be decreased during the initial stages in order to encourage uptake. This would enable the market value of the PERFORMER solution to increase proportionally to the number of users. Scalability is important as the strength of the building data warehouse service will be the number of partners and devices which are handled.

In terms of distribution & communication, due to the level of innovative and perceived complexity of the solution, it was recommended that the traditional communication channels (e.g. general advertising) would not be suitable. Direct contacts would probably be more appropriate e.g. briefings and demonstration meetings at industry events, etc. so that products & services can be introduced to potential clients by professionals. Another effective channel to disseminate the result might be to demonstrate the product in buildings frequently visited by many people (e.g. office buildings in business districts, public administration premises, etc.). coupled with an information campaign informing visitors that they are in the building where the PERFORMER service is helping to manage energy consumption. This approach would also facilitate word of mouth marketing of the PERFORMER solution. This could be coupled with good news stories and positive references from well-known and esteemed clients to attract more users.

The discussion with stakeholders followed the structure of business model canvas[1] with the aim of analysing its various components (Customer Segments, Value Propositions, Channels, Customer Relationships, Revenue Streams, Key Activities, Key Resources, Key Partnerships, Cost Structure) and to a large extent it was found to be appropriate. The ideas gathered during the workshop will be used and adapted by the PERFORMER partners to address specific business scenarios and applications of the PDW service.

[1] https://strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas

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