I recently joined a PropTech WhatsApp group and asked what events they recommended and why. I’ve included a selection of logos from some of those mentioned above, along with others I have been to and have been recommended to me. I am not advocating any of them although I did moderate a panel as the Smart Buildings Show this year. I have highlighted them because of an observation I made in the WhatsApp group about how much ground PropTech covers including if and how lines blur with related areas like WorkTech, as well as if some are sub-sets, e.g. ConTech and Smart Buildings technologies.
My interest is really connected to my first post on this blog and that’s about whether the smart buildings technology landscape could be mapped along similar lines that Scott Brinker has done with MarTech (see more here). The role events might play in that is potentially how they theme their conference strands, organise areas of their exhibitions and the make-up of their audiences that I assume include both buyers and sellers. For example, Smart Buildings Show has an Energy Management conference strand and there is the EMEX energy managment event that seems to be catering to the audience for that topic. And I am guessing by the exhibitors there is also cross over into some of the audience for the Smart Buildigs Show, as well as representing some of the vendors from the various accredited/verified/certified solution programmed and buyers guides I have mentioned (see here and here).
I could unpack the events featured above further to try and think through the way the landscape map could be sliced and dice, e.g. like the the way the ISE Smart Building Conference in Barcelona is part of Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), ‘the world’s largest audiovisual and systems integration exhibition.’ But the theme of this post is also linked to a conversation I had with Jim Read at the WorkTech conference yestetday who had been at the inugural event 20 years ago. Jim is an ex-Arup smart buildings consultant who was researching and writing about smart buildings before they we were even called that back in the late 90s (see here). He also helped with WiredScore‘s framework and co-facilitated a round table of developer/owner/operators with me at Cisco’s London City HQ earlier this year (see here).
Our conversation yesterday was basically about the following observation Jim made as part of an article we co-wrote for Smart Buildings Magazine about the key take aways from the round table:
It is worth noting that the drivers for creating and justifying a smart building, whether for retrofit or new build, have changed significantly in recent years. A decade or two ago most Smart Building initiatives were driven from the bottom up by technology manufactures, engineers and building contractors. They provided building environmental systems to address the needs of the building and those maintaining them.
The emphasis now for Smart Building realisation is to adopt a top down approach where the needs of building occupants is the starting point. Their requirements and expectations have placed ever increasing challenges on work space designers and technology providers. It follows that there are now many more stakeholders involved and the whole journey to Smart has become much more complex as a result.Smart Buildings Magazine: Retrofitting buildings and the drive towards net zero (15th May, 2023)
That creates an emerging disconnect around communication and understanding between some of the many parties involved in the whole process.
We were wondering if and how events could help with facilitating better understanding between those stakeholders. A potential problem for any event curation that attempts that is connected to my earlier observation about how PropTech covers a lot of ground now. With a bigger event that is less of a problem because delegates can self-curate what sessions they go and see on different stages. But with smaller more intimate ones, then you run the risk of at least some of the programme not being of interest to everyone – particularly if you try and cover too much on a single stage. One way of mitigating that problem is to have a more focused micro events that cover a wider territory over a series. Or perhaps make the event very focused like the way the Connack one in Munich I heard about recently appears to do (“The ultimate gathering of MQTT enthusiasts to explore practical applications of MQTT for Connected Industries”). A symposium is another way of curating talks that cover a broad range of perspectives.
It would be fascinating to hear from others about what events they recommend attending and why, even if it just the networking rather than the content. Who knows, maybe that has the makings of a directory, although as touched upon above my interest is really more about stakeholder analysis and to see if that helps with how the smart building technology landscape get mapped. It’s just that I have seen a lot of PropTech maps but no smart buildings one yet.