“The Smart Building Effect”

Nicolas Waern
5 min readJul 2, 2021


Forget about Smart from Start, antifragility, and classic business models that don’t offer anything new. The future will be about buildings that stay relevant and get exponentially smarter over time.

“You can save hundreds of millions of dollars with continuous improvements to a Smart Building, which is a stark contrast to other Building Automation Vendors that do something else continuously:

- Ask you to pay again!”

A Battle of business models

One of the major reasons why Smart Buildings are winning against its competition hands down is completely overlooked, underrated, and rarely mentioned. It is the continuous value creation for customers and that buildings grow better over time. Other manufacturers have no answer for this.

The companies creating Smart Buildings will add value for their customers like no other company in the world. I am not talking about safety features, being fun to be in, or sustainable energy efficiency of soft values, but about hard dollars in the pockets of companies, tenants, and especially real estate owners. This has nothing to do with automated buildings, or AI-infused robot buildings, which, if they arrive one day, will add 6-digit value appreciation on top.

What we are experiencing today is not a competition about who has the best net-zero building with the best energy efficiency rating on the planet, the best technical asset management team, or the newest silo solution from a building automation vendor. What we are experiencing is not a competition between automated buildings and traditional buildings, but the competition between two contradicting business models.

“When Smart Buildings will become the norm, it will make ALL the difference”.

The incremental value Smart Buildings create per building for its customers is higher compared to other buildings, and that is critically important for a successful business.

  • Smart Buildings will be the norm because if owners, as well as tenants, get a better deal financially, why should they ever buy again from the competition?!
  • Why would anyone want to use an old building when a Smart Building is so much better?
  • And that it also has the possibility to get better over time, for free?!

The business case a smart building offers to its customers is worth some hundreds of thousands, up to millions of dollars per building over 10 years, and no one can compete with that.

Are Smart buildings the most misunderstood opportunity in the world?

Even today, with continuous strong coverage in the media and a ton of analysts turning every stone over to understand the potential of Proptech, Digital Twins, Smart Buildings, and Smart Cities, almost nobody understands the basics of the possibilities of a fundamentally different business model.

The approach from incumbent Building Automation vendors to sell solutions with enhanced hardware features makes sense since they earn money with every solution sold, and even more important, with spare parts, lock-in effects, and services in the aftermarket. Their global fleet of hardware/software offerings is the cow they milk until it dies in an accident or by old age decades later. And they still get the business because they were there first, the lock-in effects are too great, there’s only a handful that knows the system, or an SLA that is infinite. Why not compete on value and outcomes?

Without the after-sales business, most Building Automation Vendors would be structurally unprofitable, because the revenue stream from the continuous lock-in effects is tremendously large and much more important for their bottom lines than new building solution sales.

Suppliers of Smart Building solutions will initially not have a large offering or significant after-sales business, so how can it make any profit, especially when giving continuous building improvements away for free? If you do not have an answer to that question, you do not understand what a Smart Building solution will provide for its customers.

If you want to read more about this and understand what the future will look like, head over to Beyond Buildings for the full article! The full article is an 82,6% intentional copy-paste of this fantastic article by Alex Voigt which is depicting the business model introduced by Tesla. The article intrigued me because it was eerily similar to what I believe is happening to the Smart Building industry.

The reason why I read everything is that my role is to advise decision-makers and companies what the world is going to do a month, a year, a decade from now. I try to have a holistic understanding of what is needed to stand out from the competition, in order to better advise on pros and cons and be the strategic partner for both technology and organization-advice in a Smart World Environment (Construction/Industry/Smart Buildings and Cities).

And if you or someone you know need help with questions regarding strategy, innovation, and figuring out how modern technologies can help you where you are today. Look no further. WINNIIO will always be by your side. Just reach out to me, Nicolas Waern, on LinkedIn or check out my Podcast Beyond Buildings if you need any assistance.

Nicolas Waern


Nicolas Waern is the CEO, Strategy & Innovation Leader, and a Digital Twin Evangelist at the consulting firm WINNIIO. He is a thought leader around Digitalization and Digital Twins, regarding Smart Buildings, Smart Cities, and future-ready strategies. And a firm believer that we have all the ingredients to make the world a better place for everyone.

Nicolas is working with leaders in several industries to understand how they can succeed in the age of AI. Assisting them in creating their future, by predicting what the world will do in a week, a month, a year from now. He does this through a Digitalization- Demand approach for anyone that needs to change before they have to.

Nicolas is also Podcast Creator & Newsletter Editor for The Beyond Buildings Podcast
Thought Leader regarding Smart Buildings & Building Automation for AutomatedBuildings
Speaker and Influencer Event Streaming Platforms as the Holy Grail for Industry 4.0 Applications
Subject Matter Expert Real Estate Digitalization Proptech Sweden — Digitalization Expert
And an active Member of Digital Twin working groups Digital Twin Consortium & Chalmers — Digital Twin City Centre

Originally published in September 2020 at https://automatedbuildings.com.



Nicolas Waern

It took me 37 years to create an approach to solve all the challenges in the world. Now I’ll spend the rest of my life to get it done. Are you with me?