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Constantly on the Move: KNX Association reviews 2020 and previews 2021

By Yasmin Hashmi, KNXtoday

In this brief interview with KNXtoday, KNX Association personnel give their views on how 2020 changed the KNX world, and what we can look forward to in 2021.

Franz Kammerl, President

KNXtoday: Were there any positives to come from 2020?

FK: I am very proud of how everyone involved with KNX pulled out all the stops to deal with the disruption brought about by the pandemic. It is a testament to all those involved with KNX, and to the standard itself, that, despite such a challenging year, business still got done, people still got trained, and sales of the ETS license in 2020 were up around 10% on the already record-breaking year before. Furthermore, 2020 saw us welcome Sony as our 500th KNX member.

KNXtoday: What can the KNX community look forward to in 2021?

FK: Looking ahead, we have so much to offer to so many different businesses, including the forthcoming ETS6 generation, which is scheduled for release in the course of 2021 and which will have a simplified licensing workflow.

KNXtoday: What can those using KNX Classic systems expect?

FK: For those who want to extend their KNX Classic offer, we are working on solutions that will improve the use of KNX RF in existing TP installations, make KNX RF Multi more energy efficient, and see more KNX Secure products being used in installations.

KNXtoday: What about extending into IP?

FK: For those wishing to go beyond TP communication and use IPv6 (wireless) networks to share KNX data between devices, we are developing the KNX IoT Point API. This will facilitate unprecedented solutions, not in the least in the field of energy management, and will also introduce alternative IT Cyber Security mechanisms that may be used alongside KNX Secure.

KNXtoday: How can KNX broaden its reach?

FK: For third parties wishing to interface with KNX, we are revolutionising the way non-KNX clients tap into the data of KNX installations by creating the KNX IoT 3rd Party interface. In addition, thanks to the semantics included in this interface, and which we could also include in our product data, KNX will be key to improving the planning stage, easing the configuration of products and becoming the best data provider for BIM (Building Information Modelling).

KNXtoday: Any final words?

FK: With my fellow board members and the KNX team in Brussels, we are constantly evaluating how KNX technology could be improved and how the market can be grown. There are vast opportunities ahead, and I look forward to continuing to work with the entire community on this beautiful solution that is KNX!

Ufuk Unal, Certification Manager

KNXtoday: How have you responded to the effects of the pandemic on training and certification?

UU: 2020 was quite a remarkable year to say the least. To cope with the Covid-19 challenge, many training centres had to adapt their training methods to the new situation. Most of the certified KNX training centres switched over from face-to-face to online training for the theoretical part of their courses. Due to the pandemic, KNX also shortened the training hours of the Condensed Practical Basic course to 8 hours so that students only have to invest one day in achieving KNX partner status.

KNXtoday: Can you tell us more about the new Refresher Course?

UU: Amongst other things, KNX introduced a new course type, the Refresher Course at the end of 2020. This will give all existing KNX Partners the opportunity to refresh and develop their KNX skills by informing them about the most recent KNX system and tools developments. The Refresher Course is ideal for a KNX Partner who, for example, did the Basic Course fifteen years ago (having received the training with ETS3) and who now wants to refresh their knowledge, including the use of the latest ETS5. We want to stress that this course can be attended fully online.

KNXtoday: How have you improved Partner ranking?

UU: The introduction of the Partner ranking project in 2020 was the icing on the cake. Each KNX Partner will receive a number of predefined credits, which are displayed on the international KNX Partner website. These are based on the categories ‘Knowledge’, ‘Tools’, ‘Engagement’, ‘Realised projects’ and ‘Customer feedback’. By showing these ratings we are confident that an end-customer is more likely to find the best-suited KNX installer for their KNX installation.

KNXtoday: What is the outlook for training in 2021?

UU: We expect online trainings to skyrocket this year as the demand for KNX training has not decreased. Of course, we wish that this pandemic were over so that all of us can go back to the old normal where a healthy mix of complete face-to-face trainings as well as partly-online trainings can take place, but we must and will rise to the challenge of changing circumstances. A full list of current online courses provided by KNX Association can be found here.

Joost Demarest, CTO/CFO

KNXtoday: What surprised you about 2020?

JD: During the first months of the pandemic, it was uncertain what the overall impact would be, but it soon became clear that any interactions with the KNX community would only be possible virtually, not in person. This was underlined first by the postponement and then by the cancellation of the Light + Building fair. However, by the end of the year and after a successful online first edition of the KNXperience fair, KNX has had another record-breaking year, even topping 2019’s results by more than 10% – despite the last major ETS release already dating back to 2014! This demonstrates how KNX is continuing to attract new customers worldwide. 

KNXtoday: What are your plans for KNX technology during 2021?

JD: We hope that, in spite of the still uncertain times, with all the new developments KNX and its members have worked on over recent years (especially KNX IoT), KNX will remain the best solution for interoperable smart homes and buildings. 2021 will require KNX to work out a certification procedure for KNX IoT 3rd Party interfaces and also finalise the KNX Point API specification, allowing IPv6 fieldbus communication. Last, but not least, 2021 will be the release year of the ETS6, which also brings many improvements.

KNXtoday: What should KNX Members and Partners particularly look out for this year?

JD: 2021 will be a decisive year for proving that the KNX IoT 3rd Party API holds many advantages for parties outside the KNX community to connect to KNX data, thus making KNX a true service enabler for solutions that build on data collected via this manufacturer-independent interface. So, in my eyes, this is an opportunity not to be missed, as this will attract even more companies to invest in KNX, be it manufacturers or partners. 

In addition to all the above, KNX has many other improvements still up its sleeve, ranging from an improved KNX Virtual, improved KNX Partner Ranking, a reworked eCampus for KNX beginners, streamlined KNX training and support documentation, and enhanced KNX product certification workflow.

Serge Creola, Sales and Support Manager

KNXtoday: How did KNX Sales and Support rise to the challenges of 2020?

SC: 2020 saw two main challenges for sales: the worldwide situation with respect to conducting our business and the cancellation of the Light + Building fair. In the first case, we found a way to facilitate everything for our customers without interrupting our activities. In the second case, we made up for the loss with our own virtual KNXperience fair. Both have been successful and a great relief!

KNXtoday: Have you noticed any recent trends?

SC: We noticed a greater interest in general towards our technology and its developments as well as more focus on KNX by private home owners. With the planned evolutions of our software, we sincerely expect these trends to continue.

KNXtoday: What are your priorities and hopes for 2021?

SC: One main focus in 2021 will be the launch of ETS6 as it represents an important leap forward for our software and its technology. But that is not all: we have high hopes and confidence regarding what we are preparing for our customers in 2021.

Casto Cañavate, Marketing Manager

KNXtoday: How did 2020 change your marketing approach?

CC: 2020 gave us the opportunity convert from traditional to digital marketing. Coordinating and promoting the news from KNX Association, our KNX Members and our professionals was a great challenge that we more than met by offering new live and on-demand webinars, online conferences and, most impressively, an online trade-show. All within less than one year! 

KNXtoday: What are your marketing priorities for 2021?

CC: We have three priorities; Digitalisation. Sustainability. Connect.

Firstly, we need to digitalise even more and innovate in the way we promote all of the new possibilities offered by Services with KNX, particularly in terms of energy management solutions, as well as embracing market trends such as AI, BIM, etc.

Secondly, we will increase our efforts to showcase the benefits that KNX can bring to a more sustainable world. These may seem obvious to some, but we still want to make our message clearer.

Thirdly, we want to connect with end-customers in order to promote KNX as the solution to use at home.

KNXtoday: What words of encouragement you can offer to the KNX community?

CC: Last year was hard. This year might be even harder, but let’s work together to make sure our businesses keep up with the new challenges to come!

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