A Look To 2018: Not Everything Is Smart!

2018 is fast-approaching, so what is on your company’s agenda for next year? What opportunities and new endeavors should be on your agenda?

When it comes to looking for new opportunities, 2018 will be a banner year for electricians and others involved in trying to build smart cities, alternative energy systems, resilient power grids, network communications, and retrofitting existing commercial and residential buildings. All this is needed so buildings can handle tenants who are dependent on mission-critical applications.

So many people throw out terms like “smart cities” and “smart grids” but do not discuss what is needed to attain that level of technological sophistication. You cannot have a smart city made up of dumb buildings. They need to be upgraded to handle supporting mission-critical applications, which means having no “single point of failure.”

The infrastructure supporting those buildings also needs to be upgraded. Each building should have diverse routes to two central offices for broadband connectivity and two diverse routes to two substations for power. With corporations currently at one out of every three applications being mission critical, they are going to be requesting intelligent amenities (redundant power and broadband connectivity). That demand is going to grow because mission-critical applications are also growing to one out of every two applications in the near future.

At the recent Bronzeville International Summit in Chicago, I was the keynote speaker talking about regional economic development and the need to upgrade infrastructure if you want to attract and maintain first-class corporate facilities. Most buildings were not built to handle today’s mission-critical applications. They need to be modified and upgraded. If the property owners and property management companies want to attract and maintain first-class tenants, they have to update their buildings and office parks (Intelligent Business Campuses). Click here to watch the keynote address.

Imagine all the buildings in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, and all the other metropolitan areas, which want to attract and maintain new corporate tenants and facilities. To upgrade all the existing building so they can support mission-critical applications is a huge endeavor requiring investments and many electrical teams to add new capabilities. The same goes for second-tier cities as well.

Will every property owner rush to bring in contractors to upgrade their buildings in 2018? No. What you have to do is convince them it is needed for them to remain competitive in the marketplace. To give you an idea of how important having these two intelligent amenities within the building are, look at the research I did in a project several years ago:

We were trying to see how much competition there was in a county outside of Chicago in attracting a corporate tenant needing 15,000 square feet of Class A office space. The initial review of the database of available space in Class A buildings was 95 buildings within the county. As soon as we added the criteria that the building must have broadband connectivity to it (high-speed connectivity), the amount of buildings dropped to five.

You need to pose the following question to property owners debating whether or not to invest this new intelligent infrastructure in their buildings: “How would you like to go and eliminate about 95 percent of your competition when vying for some new corporate tenants?”

Other than posing a question like this, what else out there can grab their attention? Cutting out 95 percent of their competition is huge.

It takes the property manager out of the “Selling space as a commodity” game of “who can go down to be cheapest per square foot?” and, instead, makes the potential tenants focus on other key issues and not just cost per square foot.

In a competitive market, if you have 90 buildings competing for the same tenant, you can be sure the price per square foot is going to drop from $20 per square foot to $15 per square foot to $10 per square foot in short order. The winning bid might be $8.50 with the first year on a five-year lease given free. Real estate companies cannot survive on cutting deals like that. Retrofitting real estate should be a big market in 2018.

Lithium-ion versus graphene-based batteries                  

Everyone following electric vehicles (EVs) knows they are coming into the market from Tesla as well as Nissan (Leaf), but few know about the abrupt change in materials that is starting to occur as graphene gets more commercially viable than lithium-ion batteries. Graphene is a new semi-metal with super connectivity. It has many applications in electronics.

Samsung, along with other companies, has been researching graphene and is coming out with some new ways to use the material in a cost-effective manner. Graphene will eventually be a basic building block in many electronics just like transistors and integrated circuit chips were. With graphene, the amount of time to recharge batteries will drop significantly. Imagine an EV going from needing five-to-six hours to charge to five minutes to charge. Same in other battery applications like charging up smartphones and other smart devices.

Look for more companies to adopt graphene in the near future as a building block in their products.

Next year will open new doors that lead to new paths for products and profitability. Companies are starting to plan for next year, and most are looking at ways to expand their markets. It is a good time to be involved, but remember, you earn more if you learn more. There are many new things coming out in both the commercial and residential markets. Try to stay ahead of all these new products and services because you will be able to break into new areas that include fiber optics, wireless, and mission-critical applications.

Have a happy and safe holiday season.

About the Author

James Carlini

Contributing Editor

James Carlini, MBA, is a strategist for mission-critical networks, technology and intelligent infrastructure. He has been the president of Carlini & Associates since 1986. He is author of "LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY," a visionary book on the...

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