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Alexey Kursin: "Office Technologies and Sanctions. How will the segment of "smart" offices in Russia develop"

09 June 2022
Most smart office solutions are based on Russian software, but require imported hardware.
  • Alexey Kursin

    partner of Pridex

The image of the modern office has changed dramatically over the past 5 years. The key driver of the transformation was IT systems integrated into the interior, this is confirmed by a change in the budget structure of the average fit-out project. Since 2017, expenditures on low-current systems, automation of engineering, multimedia, etc., in the budgets of office equipment projects increased from 4% to 15% in the segment of large projects and from 10% to 30% in the case of compact interiors. In cash equivalent, the cost of a "smart office" adds from 20,000 to 35,000 rubles per sq.m. to the cost of decoration. The demand for smart office solutions is explained by plans to transfer companies to a hybrid work format, as evidenced, for example, by a study conducted by the NAFI Analytical Center. It reports that in 2022, 86% of companies will provide employees with the opportunity to combine remote work and work from the office. At the same time, the use of video communication systems in business communications has finally become the norm for corporate life.

Programs are ours, hardware — imported

Smart Office today is software with which users book jobs and premises, manage lighting, air conditioning, and infrastructure for video negotiations; as well as equipment for automation of engineering and sun protection systems, office access control systems, storage of personal possessions with the integration of face recognition technology.

The specifics of creating such an office in the current conditions is that most of the solutions present on the market are implemented on the basis of Russian software, but require imported hardware. Difficulties for the most part are due to rising prices and interruptions in the supply of a number of components and software elements.

The main suppliers of components are China (25%), the USA (15%), Germany (10%), Spain (10%), Japan (8%), France (7%). The share of Russian suppliers is about 25%. As a rule, the more complex the project, the greater the share of equipment produced abroad.

Software is a key element of the "smart" infrastructure, on the basis of which employee interaction with the office ecosystem is built: booking jobs, managing the infrastructure for negotiations, inviting guests, applications to customer care services and orders in cafes.

In this category, mainly Russian developments are used, which, according to a number of criteria, outcompete foreign counterparts. The specifics of creating such software and hardware complexes imply the presence of competencies not only in the development of software, but also a fundamental understanding of the principles of engineering systems, multimedia and corporate security requirements. Traditional developers of software products do not have such skills, so the direction of "smart offices", as a rule, is developed by local participants, immigrants from the construction sector, with relevant experience.

Exceptions in the context of the use of foreign software in Russian projects concerned the booking systems of negotiations Crestron, Extron, Evoko, CUE, which were delivered with their equipment. These companies are leaving Russia, but they can be replaced by high-quality Russian developments, for example, solutions from INEX Digital or Navigator, which already occupy significant market shares.

According to our data, more than 90% of new office interiors are equipped with multimedia equipment for conference rooms. The main components of this smart infrastructure segment are software and hardware. At the moment, most video conferencing systems (VCS) are based on Zoom and Microsoft Teams software solutions. A small share of the market is occupied by Russian TrueConf, IVA MCU, etc., which gradually scale the business by attracting new customers. The technical part, in its turn, is divided into video conferencing equipment (which is mainly represented by Western brands Logitech and Poly) and multimedia commercial equipment. The replacement of Western equipment for VCS can be approved Chinese manufacturers, for example, Yealink, while finding an alternative to professional multimedia panels from leading international brands will be more difficult.

The most problematic section for finding analogues will be equipment for control of engineering systems. This is the framework of the smart office infrastructure with which the systems are configured for user algorithms: for example, the switching on of lighting and sockets when booking a workplace is programmed or the settings of meeting systems for various scenarios of using the room — a video communication session or an offline presentation.

The main suppliers of light and climate control components are German, French and Spanish companies. This complex and specific equipment, it will be extremely difficult to find a replacement for these manufacturers, especially in the light of the rigid requirements for its stable operation and reliability.

Development of companies from China and Turkey may be an acceptable replacement, but the formation of a reliable pool of suppliers will take time to adapt the software part and test specific equipment samples.

Face to face

One of the most dynamically developing components of a smart office, providing a comfortable way for users to communicate with the office ecosystem — face recognition technology. It is integrated into the access control system, which identifies friend-or-foe for contactless entry; a video analytics system that captures movements of users and guests within a facility; as well as into the personal storage system.

The software here is 100% represented by Russian developers (RecFaces, Tevian, NtechLab, VisionLabs, etc.). This state of affairs creates extra space for maneuver, as it allows developers to configure software for the use of equipment from various manufacturers from China.

Stages of adaptation

Despite the significant dependence on foreign components, smart office technology has good prospects for development even in the near future. We see the possibility of adapting to new conditions in several stages:

  • For current projects, simplification of concepts and point cancellation of functionality is possible due to the inability to make a purchase according to the project in full.
  • For new projects in the near future, solutions will be proposed that take into account the currently available range of products. This will increase the time and cost customers more, as part of the equipment has increased in price, and for a number of components it will be necessary to search for new suppliers. In the future of the year, this may lead to an increase in the cost of projects to equip offices with "smart systems" by 10−20%.

However, in the end, we expect suppliers to adapt to the new game conditions, and companies will be able to offer the customer the optimal set of engineering and IT solutions. This process, according to our forecasts, will take from 6 to 12 months. The presence of original Russian software that makes it possible to integrate any equipment into the system will play not the last role in this.

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