9 questions with… Matthieu de Broca, International Business Development Director
1. Can you describe the Overkiz line of business for us?
Overkiz was founded in 2007 and offers a Platform as a Service (PaaS) designed to make it easier for our customers to enter the field of IoT (Internet of Things) and help them quickly roll out their own solutions for connected homes and buildings.
We provide a comprehensive infrastructure consisting of smart controllers, a cloud, an API library, and mobile apps that can be used to transmit information over the internet. It’s this combination of the internet, which is our business, and our ability to understand real-world needs, which is so rare today. We treasure this versatility, which is unparalleled in the market. It allows us to differentiate ourselves from our customers and our partners.
Overkiz is positioned with a unique offering. We make it easier to aggregate data and communicate information between different brands of equipment using different technology and service operators wanting to use the data. The internet is our lifeblood with our IoT platform, which makes it possible to pool information from different operators and manufacturers in the cloud.
2. Do you offer both products and services?
Yes, Overkiz offers white-label BtoB solutions linking multiple brands, multiple protocols, and multiple products. We also offer connected services on several levels:
The first level addresses the devices themselves, whether they are already connected or need to be made connectable, such as switches, boilers, and roller shutters.
The second level is the ability to create scenarios to add smart capabilities to everyday objects by defining a scenario by which, for example, all the heaters turn off when you leave home.
The third level of intelligence is autonomy, meaning the ability for the home or building to learn on its own, through artificial intelligence or other models, aligning your routines with yourself, the user.
Finally, the fourth level, tailored more to the non-residential or commercial sector, is a building management system (BMS).
At each level, you have a combination of the Internet of Things, the cloud (with solutions that are no longer hosted on physical servers), and Big Data, encompassing the processing and management of massive amounts of data in order to observe behavior.
3. Who uses your solutions? Who are they for?
Overkiz focused first on the residential housing market in Europe, targeting manufacturers, service providers, property builders, and distributors. To date, we have already connected 250,000 homes in Europe, using 5,000 compatible products from a catalog of more than 60 brands.
We then expanded into the automation of non-residential buildings, such as office buildings, schools, hospitals, and even hotels.
Since 2017, we have been active in Asia, helping our customers expand and find success in new promising markets. The international playing field has so much opportunity for us. Our neutral infrastructure also seems to provide a strong basis for future growth.
4. How would you define a connected building?
It’s a broad transformation that takes place on multiple levels, starting at construction, with digital models to construct the building in 3D and provide us with mathematical models. There is also a second level within the building, for example, with a radiator that sends information over the internet that you can retrieve on your smartphone. This is a massive transformation and a real paradigm shift for most in the industry.
5. What do you feel are the latest challenges and trends in the sector?
The main challenge is to identify how to move from traditional manufacturing and operations to IT operations.
The next challenge will be to successfully bring together everyone’s interests, including manufacturers, operators, and occupants. Manufacturers want to gain maximum control over the building, and users want a single, highly versatile app for their smartphone. These interests may not always be aligned.
There is also a financial concern because technology involves a financial investment. If investing in technology is required before building, there would then be the matter of creating value at the service level, as well as sharing that value.
From the user’s perspective, these technologies are not adopted at the same speed, and perception of the service may vary. Whether in a residential or non-residential building, our perception of technology is not always the same. There is therefore a challenge regarding the education and adoption of these various levels of services.
Another challenge in the connected building sector is the coexistence of brands. Manufacturers tend to operate in silos, but today’s users want to do everything with a single click from their phone. Bringing different brands and services together through some fifty different applications can frustrate users. It is therefore important to pool and standardize services.
The other challenges are more technical. Who has access to the data? Who is using it? And who does it belong to? If the data generated by a connected object is not shared, services may become fragmented, which will not make sense to users.
Finally, there is the matter of the technology’s lifespan and scalability. If we install a particular technology in a building, hidden behind the walls, how do we go about changing it? Manufacturers must therefore be able to accommodate such changes.
6. What are your strengths in dealing with these challenges?
Our white-label solutions are available to leading companies around the world, including manufacturers, service providers, distributors, and property builders. Our customers include top companies, such as Bouygues Immobilier, Engie, Hitachi, and Nexity, reflecting our position as an expert in the market.
In addition, the openness of our ecosystem and the interoperability of our platform, combined with an efficient, scalable, and flexible cloud architecture that is suitable for all projects, are also a real advantage that has allowed us to connect 2.5 million pieces of equipment to date.
Finally, our ability to make adjustments quickly at any time and at any level of our infrastructure and to adapt our system to changing needs and to the entire lifecycle of our customers’ products also set us apart.
7. What strategy do you use to position yourself on the value chain, among titans like Google and Amazon?
The goal is to interact with them rather than to go up against them. These players come to the market with a two-tiered offer: voice assistants that serve as remote controls and services, which Amazon does, such as home delivery when you are away. They address legitimate needs that are far removed from our main line of business, which involves proximity and working with manufacturers and professional networks to provide local services for users.
An example is allowing a boilermaker to identify a problem before it occurs and notify the occupant, something that Amazon and Google don’t provide because this becomes hyper-localized and their business focuses more on advertising and online shopping.
We also offer long-term support with technological scalability. We explain to manufacturers and customers that, if they choose us, we can support them for 5 to 10 years by updating the technology to serve them better and not whatever this or that company might have decided in Silicon Valley.
8. You’ve worked on many projects, some of which are highly innovative. Can you tell us about one in particular that you like?
We believe that a project is successful when it combines innovation with fluid, efficient collaboration among multiple partners, involves several brands, and becomes something that we want to replicate on other projects.
This is true of the solution we deployed for Bouygues Immobilier, a major property developer in France that, like us, prioritizes innovation and the user experience in the success of its projects. We helped Bouygues Immobilier to deploy the Flexom solution in 10,000 homes, allowing residents to remotely control a wide range of equipment (lighting, heating, roller shutters, and more) from different manufacturers and to create smart scenarios.
This project is particularly close to our hearts because it allowed us to apply the full range of our expertise within a single project, enabling wireless communication between various devices, promoting cloud-to-cloud management to create a vast ecosystem of devices and connected services, allowing equipment to be controlled remotely through a mobile app, collecting residential usage data, and providing remote monitoring and maintenance of devices. This all came together to create a smart, flexible, and cost-efficient solution.
9. And looking ahead, what are the short-term and medium-term outlooks for Overkiz?
Supporting our customers abroad. Connection needs vary significantly from country to country, and there is a real potential for growth in different brands, forming an ecosystem and catalog that will continue to grow over time, as we provide support and build our international business.
We are becoming increasingly popular among companies involved in building management because we create flexibility for them and contribute our internet expertise. It’s a big, big world, and there are so many prospects for growth both locally and abroad.