For Internet of Things, Legrand Is Its Own Trojan Horse

Launching its ELIOT Internet of Things development program in North America, Legrand looks to leverage devices already in millions of commercial and residential buildings.

Tom LeBlanc

When it comes to developing IoT solutions under the ELIOT umbrella, Legrand “will leverage our global organization, all businesses, all brands, all around the world, supported by innovation teams, development teams and design teams,” said Steve Schoffstall, CMO, Legrand North and Central America.

Here are some other eye-opening thoughts shared by Selldorff and Schoffstall at the ELIOT launch:

  • Legrand is uniquely poised to be an IoT solutions provider, Selldorff said, because it’s uniquely in electrical wiring, building control systems, lighting, data communications, commercial AV and data center power and control.
  • The challenge for integrators and IoT developers is to connect the technology to life at home and at work. “The way we learn and work together is changing,” Selldorff said, using prolific and dynamic use of video communications as an example.
  • One focus of IoT is on learning processes. Selldorff described a teacher walking into a classroom and connecting her PC to a display, then allowing the room to react with the lights dimming, screen lowering, temperature setting, presentation launching and more. “How much would learning improve?”
  • IoT isn’t actually new. “We think it began decades ago when things moved from analog to digital,” Selldorff said, adding that it was then than devices began to interact with one another.
  • Some of the impact of IoT will require serious attention. Selldorff described increased traffic and the need for better bandwidth at home and at work; that non-IoT systems could become obsolete; increased network complexity and elevated security challenges. “Customers will have to massively expand digital infrastructures.”
  • Deployment of connected devices is predicted to increase from a few billion today to as many as 50 million in just a few years, Selldorff said. “Our estimation is that 60 percent of that will be in the built environment.”
  • In terms of which solutions providers will find success offering IoT, “Winning companies will be those that can simplify the complex and support the products over the life of the building and provide superior customer experiences,” Selldorff said.
  • IoT should be backward compatible, Schoffstall said. In ELIOT, he referred to a “drive for innovation” that includes connecting existing devices by offering of additional gateways.” That, of course, is combined with development of new offerings and “developing groundbreaking concepts that reimagine what’s possible in the space where people live in work.”
  • ELIOT can be cloud-based. Schoffstall said the program includes development of a dedicated cloud-based system that will insure protection and confidentiality of data.
  • IoT requires standards. When developing ELIOT, Legrand sees standards as being critical,” Selldorff said. “Networking has been built around standards allowing people to insure a level of acceptable performance [and] create common language. We see this as critical for [IoT] to truly be able to evolve.” He added that Legrand embraces several standards and doesn’t need to market to collectively embrace one standard.
  • It’s important to prepare for ROI conversations. Legrand knows its commercial and residential end users pretty well, Selldorff said, and therefore understands that IoT will be challenged by those focused on cost, value and risk. “There will be resistance to adoption until there is confidence that the products will work reliably,” he said.
  • Network reliability will be the key. Along the lines ofcustomers requiring a track record of reliability, Selldorff explained that the “No. 1 reason things don’t work are problems with the underlying network. Pervasive devices require resilient digital building infrastructure.” He added that although it’s obviously essential in the workplace, it’s just as relevant in the residential world as more devices are connected. “Legrand can address this through advances in networking designs.”
  • An IoT solution needs to continually evolve. By no means is ELIOT a set it and forget it type of solution, Selldorff said. He described IoT as a fast-changing environment with new experiences, functions and services expected to emerge. “At Legrand we anticipate having to adapt by expanding our offerings of ELIOT-enabled devices.”
  • Need for “automation” is migrating to a need for “autonomous” solutions. That, Schoffstall said, is one of the biggest ways IoT will impact consumer expectations. Autonomous solutions “are ones where components are designed to self-connect, self-configure and adapt.” He gave a basic example of a Nest thermostat growing to understand behavior trends and adjusting temperature based on what it has learned.