InterviewsOutlook

Outlook 2022: “Sustainability Will No Longer be a Value Proposition”

Sanjeevv Bhatia, the Chairman of SB Group International and CEO of Netix Global BV, says real estate stakeholders will adopt smart building solutions

How was 2021 for the industry and your company?
We believe 2021 will be looked back someday as the year when technology truly announced itself in the real estate sector. The pandemic necessitated changes that the sector had been averse to for years. Upon seeing the achievable outcomes, stakeholders found greater clarity and consensus on the need for digital transformation in the built environment. This awareness contributed significantly to Netix’s success this year. Safe to say that 2021 will go down as a landmark year for us.

What sort of opportunities did 2021 bring along?
The lockdowns, supply chain disruptions, and the economic downturn aggravated long-standing loopholes in building operations and maintenance. However, the impact was more pronounced in old buildings with legacy BMS and BAS. As a solutions provider that specializes in retrofitting old buildings to achieve high operational efficiency and energy usage optimization, Netix witnessed significant demand from owners and operators who wanted to unlock “smart” outcomes.

Did you face any challenges in 2021?
Like every company out there, we were not immune to challenges. Thanks to proactive measures taken during the first wave in 2020, we faced considerably fewer operational disruptions this year. However, continued travel restrictions did impact our ability to move between our global offices. It did not stop the knowledge flows, as we are a digital-first company with tools and models that facilitate remote business continuity.

What were your key achievements in 2021?
We conceived and popularized the “Android approach”, which makes building systems vendor-neutral, highly programmable, and easy to operate — much like the Android OS in mobile phones. This approach formed the basis of our Netix Novus Partner Program, aimed at creating an ecosystem of certified service providers and open-protocol buildings in the Middle East, using our Integrated Building Management System (iIBMS) and Netix Konnect platform. We also supported the hospitality industry with customized solutions. Considering hotels typically have 40-50 different vendors, seamless integration helped hoteliers unlock unprecedented efficiencies. These strengths culminated in our Gold Tier Partnership with Tridium, a giant in the automation industry.

What promises does 2022 bring along?
Thus far, real estate stakeholders have only caught a glimpse of product/service differentiation opportunities in old buildings. They are likely to walk the talk in 2022, by adopting smart building solutions. We expect nothing less than a “brownfield revolution”, wherein relatively old buildings will be brought to the digitalization and sustainability fold in large numbers. These promises complement the larger sustainability drive across industries and global economies.

Do you see opportunities in the regional markets with new markets opening up?
The emergence of niche markets like proptech and smart building solutions bodes well for the larger economy. Sustainability is no longer a value proposition in buildings; it’s non-negotiable and inextricably linked to financial outcomes. Early movers have witnessed significant ROI through compliance with regulations. So, these transformations will continue to increase. If pursued on a macro scale, they can enhance the competitiveness of the regional economies.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2022?
IoT integration will continue to be pursued across business and industry. Automation, AI, ML, AR, and VR will all merit demand in 2022. But we believe the highest demand will be for enterprise-grade platforms that feature these technologies working in tandem with each other. Such one-stop-shop solutions will save adopters the hassle of hand-picking standalone technologies and achieving interoperability. Customers are in the market for full-suite solutions that are cost-effective, simple to use and maintain, and impactful as advertised.

What will be your key focus areas for 2022?
Vendor-agnostic integration of legacy building systems, occupant experiences, and energy usage optimization will continue to remain central to our operations in 2022. Our focus is particularly on future-proofing old buildings through a mere plug-and-play process. We sincerely believe that we can create a macroeconomic impact with smart retrofits and simultaneously align buildings with larger sustainability goals.

What milestones have you set for 2022?
We want to expand our footprint in existing markets and new ones, in addition to creating impact in industrial buildings and other built environments.

What would you like to do differently in 2022, when compared with 2021?
The pandemic continued to hold us back in 2021. Conversely, 2022 will enable us to give our undivided attention to growth and expansion. We intend to explore the scalability of smart building solutions, from individual structures to cities, unlocking large-scale positive civic outcomes.

Do you plan to enter new markets or add new products/applications to your portfolio in 2022?
We will expand into Europe, the Americas, Canada, Egypt, Qatar, the KSA in 2022, promoting the Netix Novus Partner Program and adding new markets to our “brownfield revolution”. Also, we are in talks to partner with 6-7 global accounts, including CBRE and other corporates and hospitality companies.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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