There’s been a lot of buzz lately that Richmond, Va.,-based Tridium will be gobbled up by its parent Honeywell within the next couple of years. Now, let me say at the outset, all of this is just speculation and Tridium management insists it is still operating as an independent business unit of Honeywell.
Candidly, I wouldn’t suspect anyone in management would say anything, but the corporate line unless the change was imminent. However, even the industry pundits are finding it pretty hard to know exactly what bucket to put Tridium in these days, and many customers are criticizing the business entity.
It makes sense for Honeywell to absorb Tridium, which it acquired in 2005. During the past few years, Tridium has come to look more and more like a building and controls provider and less like and true M2M service provider. When Jerry Frank created Tridium in 1995, it was an M2M infrastructure company that offered the Niagara development platform and was known as one of the industry’s leading M2M champions. For more than a decade, Tridium had been committed to championing the machine-to-machine space alongside of a host of other industries, including building and automation.
Now, Tridium seems to be stuck in building and automation and growing its own Niagara Framework and Sedona open source code, but not on building the M2M community as a whole. It’s all about building upon its narrowly focused Sedona source code. While open, (it’s still owned by Honeywell) perhaps more closed in the way the company is thinking than ever before. As I see it, this approach does not give everyone a different solution that can compete on a common level with Tridium.
The M2M space is largely comprised of loosely interconnected companies that depend on each other for their effectiveness and growth. If the ecosystem is healthy, everyone thrives. For Tridium to truly care about the growth of M2M, it must continue to create opportunities for partners, competitors, and corporate adopters alike. Some onlookers insist that Tridium isn’t supporting the industry as a whole.
In addition, one might find it amusing that as soon as the industry started to hear some rumblings about Tridium’s future, the company issued a press release announcing that it’s expanding a division to focus on the M2M space. Perhaps just coincidence. Full disclosure: I am not saying this wasn’t in the works all along, but sometimes timing is everything.
Prior to 2009, there are many examples of Tridium demonstrating a strong commitment to the M2M arena. However, its commitment has since waned to reflect more of a direction of its parent.
Now here’s a real critical point: There’s no guarantee which direction—even if it stays as an independent unit—Honeywell will decide what to do with Tridium, now or into the future. Unlike other open standards that are truly open to the public, this is not necessarily the case with Tridium, which in my opinion, is just reckless to believe that a large corporation can’t or won’t change its mind. We see it all the time.
It’s important to keep a keen eye on the facts and to observe the dramatic changes that have been occurring and that can come at anytime. We are already seeing it. Look at the Tridium literature. M2M is rarely mentioned versus five years ago when it was all over its site and on its literature. Even the company changed its “About Us” statement to accommodate the press release it issued. It’s not a consistent M2M story.
While none of this is intended to be an indictment of Tridium, especially when you consider many corporate giants are making the same pitch that end users are safe when they stick with a company that has big brand recognition. I just want to caution readers that these statements have the potential to be hogwash. We’ve all seen powerhouses like Nokia, leave space in the past, and then return years later. Then there are others that have been folded or been acquired completely.
Nothing is sacred in this economy. Every company and individual really needs to perform the necessary due diligence before picking technology partners. What once held true with brand recognition or corporate history just doesn’t have the same staying power as it once did.
Tridium has a place in the market and it has a solid solution depending on what you are attempting to do, but it seems to be narrowing its focus as each year goes by. I guess I’m just not as sold as I once was that Tridium isn’t going to be absorbed by Honeywell making it more of a building and automation company and less of an M2M infrastructure player. So then this begs the question: Is Honeywell milking or seducing the Tridium customer base? I’ll leave that up to all of you to answer.