Xavier Mongin, global director for government, defence, and smart cities at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise looks at Building-as-a-Service.

Smart buildings are critical components of a smart city and can be utilised across all sectors, public or private. Building-as-a-Service (BaaS) is an innovative concept reshaping the industry and challenging the way we view traditional service models in the era of smart, digitally connected spaces.

Over time, buildings have evolved alongside the industrial revolutions to meet the ever-changing needs of the occupants, from the safe and sanitary buildings of the 1900s to the more recent smart building. Developments in AI and Virtual Reality technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Digital Twins have unleashed new possibilities to build and operate a new generation of buildings – also known as Building 5.0 – and the emergence of the BaaS following a global trend we can witness in different domains. New usage and space management stemming from remote working, as well as a heightened awareness of health, safety, and governance, are other factors contributing to this trend.

Operating on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model BaaS involves outsourcing various building-related functions to a specialised service provider incorporating managed and autonomous service offers, collaborative communications solutions, as well as monitoring applications. Businesses are therefore granted access to a wide range of services beyond their core infrastructure, including energy management, lighting control, maintenance, and security, as well as telephony capabilities and network provision.

The potential of BaaS goes beyond mere operational services. It paves the way for a holistic approach to building management, integrating cutting-edge technologies and expertise. By leveraging automation and digital connectivity, BaaS providers create smart buildings that are efficient, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of the occupants.

One of the key advantages is its ability to provide a comprehensive solution that encompasses various aspects of building operations. Businesses can rely on the expertise and specialised knowledge of BaaS providers to handle complex functions such as energy optimisation, ensuring that the building operates efficiently while minimising costs. For example, as hybrid working continues it is important for a building to anticipate capacity and adjust energy usage accordingly, from the heating and ventilation requirements, to booking shared spaces and breakout rooms.

Moreover, BaaS offers flexibility and scalability, allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing requirements. Whether this includes expanding office spaces, reconfiguring layouts, or implementing new technologies, BaaS can be used to accommodate the evolving requirements of a business, eliminating the limitations imposed by traditional service models.

By outsourcing building-related services, BaaS also frees up businesses to focus on their core objectives, all while ensuring a customer-first approach. With the responsibility of maintenance, facility management, and infrastructure services handled by the BaaS provider, companies can dedicate resources and attention to primary business operations, enhancing productivity and efficiency.

In addition to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, which enable smarter and more efficient automated building operations, the convergence of operational technology and information technology (OT-IT) plays a significant role in the successful implementation of Building-as-a-Service. OT-IT enables the seamless integration of various building systems and technologies, creating interconnected smart buildings that deliver enhanced efficiency, sustainability, and occupant experience.

Another critical aspect of BaaS is the cybersecurity. As BaaS relies on advanced OT and IT systems integration with data driven workflows and processes the resistance to cyber risks and the resilience of the entire infrastructure should be a priority for all BaaS providers.

Overall, Building-as-a-Service offers businesses a scalable and transformative approach to facility management. Utilising data-driven decision-making, remote monitoring and control, and predictive maintenance of OT-IT convergence, BaaS can deliver efficient and sustainable buildings that meet the evolving needs of businesses and occupants for a more connected future.