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February 2021 Newsletter

Letter from the Editor

Hello again - a new month and a new issue of Smart Building Insight. Days are getting longer, vaccines are rolling out, and our industry continues to move forward and innovate. We might be naive to compete directly with the Super Bowl, but there's plenty to report again this month (though this is a relatively short issue, especially compared to the last few months).

For those who have been reading in recently, there's been a lot to report in our industry. Especially last month, our roundup for December 2020. Not quite as long, here is the wrap up of all things smart buildings to start 2021. In addition to publishing this digest, Aamidor Consulting continues to be hard at work on a range of products, serving large enterprises, startups, investors and acquirers. Please reach out if you want to talk about a potential project.

If you are trying to get through the newsletter quickly, here are a few high level takeaways:

  1. The "return to the office" debate continues to be getting a lot of attention, but a more interesting topic (especially for us) is what technologies will improve the office for those who return (and they may return some or all of the time). 
  2. SPACs continue to like the Proptech and Cleantech industries, with firms like Tishman launching a second one.
  3. While not as active as the end of 2020, there still is M&A and firms are raising rounds. 

We didn't publish any new articles over the past few weeks, but we're still planning to author a few pieces early in the year. They'll be included in the newsletter when they are published. And, this Tuesday (Feb. 9) at 2 pm Eastern/11 am Pacific, Joe Aamidor will be speaking on a 75F webinar about the 'Future of Workplace Occupancy' (register here).  Webinars are always a lot of fun, as you can see from this shot from a Realcomm event last month.

And, never worry about reaching out to say hello or check on a potential project - busy or not, we'd be happy to talk! Please reach out if you want to chat!

Aamidor Consulting Market Resources. We've been tracking all the key industry partnerships and M+A activity, all available on this readily available site

Other thoughts: The need for flexible operations goes hand-in-hand with the demand for flexible office space. So, as we see more flexible leasing terms and uses of space, it's likely going to be a sign that the technology to operate that space will need to be more flexible, too. That said, we also see the potential for a squeeze. On one hand, leases may continue to be shorter and vacancy could continue to stay higher than average, which will put pressure on the real estate owners. But, the demands for flexibility, health/wellness and very desirable office space may also increase capital expenditures in those offices. We aren't sure how all of this will play out, but it's something we are watching. Reach out if you have thoughts! 

As always, we look forward to hearing from you about how we might help with your product and market strategy needs. We also hope you enjoy this issue of Smart Building Insight.

About Our Practice

Aamidor Consulting provides product management, product marketing and strategy advisory services to software vendors, building owners/operators, and investors. You can work with us in a variety of ways:
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Investment News

  • New partnerships: Limited news on this front to start the year.
    • It's a bit tangential, but newly-public, along with Shell, Microsoft and Baker Hughes launched the Open AI Energy Initiative, which offers a "framework for energy operators, service providers, equipment providers, and independent software vendors for energy services to offer interoperable solutions."
Industry Resources

Aamidor Consulting offers a few up-to-date resources to help smart building stakeholders monitor the market:

See our homepage to learn more about our the full breadth of our offerings.

Noteworthy Articles, Reports and News

  • Return to the office: Every month we say "There continues to be a lot of news" on this topic, but it's absolutely true. This is a common topic in webinars, in 1-on-1 discussions we have with prospects and clients, and, generally it is a big open question. As we noted above, there are two interesting dynamics at play: demand for more tech-centric offices (flexibility, health/safety, etc) but there's also a lot of vacancy and uncertainty about what the office re-population story looks like (and the impact on revenues for CRE firms).
    • We found this NY Times article about returning to the office quite nuanced, and generally in line with some of our opinions. And, keep in mind that the fact that the NY Times is regularly covering offices and how to get workers safely back to them is a positive for our industry. Proptech going mainstream is a good sign.
    • Daniel Davis wrote a great twitter thread of why hub and spoke actually is not the future. "Worst of both worlds", he says. 
    • Lisa Picard of EQ Office wrote a good article about the future office, which she believes will be Phygital (Physical + Digital). 
    • A good discussion of Silicon Valley's innovation ecosystem, from a local VC and using some data on where teams and companies are located. Short conclusion: (1) things are getting more distributed and (2) it was happening before the pandemic, too.
    • The New Yorker also has been contributing to the return to work discussion, including in this article. It includes an interesting perspective from a marketing agency that has seen some significant benefits from working at home.
    • This survey data published by NBC News might be featuring the wrong point - while only 10 percent of companies think ALL employees will return to the office, I'd really like to know how many think MOST employees will return for some/most of the time. That said, it does highlight that a lot of employees are ready to go back (this isn't new, either). 
    • More survey data on returning to the office. We think surveys are a good measure on current sentiment, but may not represent what actually happens. Vaccines, fatigue, poor working circumstances at home - views about the office are likely to change. 
    • Here's a perspective from architects on the future of office design
    • Last month we shared a report on workplace innovation flows, and how being physically near each other can drive productivity (as tested with salespeople, who are easier to track given they are compensated based on sales). This paper looks more at how innovators flow between cities. The core of it is what the researchers call "centrality", a kind of measure of how each city is connected to others. Here's a quick summary on Twitter of the paper
    • And, more indications that measuring productivity will become a key part of determining how much office space be required by each company. That said, this isn't as easy as we might think.
  • Product launches: Nothing to share here for the month. 
Our Firm in the News
If you are interested, here are all the articles we've published.  
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