This is the first of a series of articles aimed at investigating the world of automation through the eyes of its players, companies specialized in offering systems to customers who are increasingly attentive to a sector in continuous development. What is asked of an automation system, what do the customers want, what does the installer demand from a home automation system? Why are people no longer scared of the costs? The answers to these and other questions in the interviews with specialists of the field.

Let’s talk about it with Abramo Bertoni
Founder of Bertoni Domotica e Sicurezza – www.bertoni.bg.it

Bertoni Domotica e Sicurezza is an Italian company founded in 2005 with headquarters in the province of Bergamo. For more than 15 years it has been dealing with electrical systems with a strong focus on home automation integration aimed at both the residential and office world. It provides design, programming, and system integrator services as well as the installation of systems and products.

Who are your typical customers?

We mainly deal with owners of small and medium-sized businesses, which is the prevalent fabric of the geographical area in which we operate. As far as the residential sector is concerned, our typical client is the owner of flats, single houses, or accommodation facilities, especially B&B.

What are the main reasons that lead your customers to approach an office automation system?

In our experience, many of our customers decided to opt for automation systems for a functional need. A trend for offices is to create open spaces, often with lots of glass; the closed office is disappearing in favour of open spaces, with environments for single offices, or that guarantee greater privacy, shielded only by glass walls. Thus, the question arises of where to put switches. The optimal solution is to resort to office automation systems.

Two other reasons push people to look for automation systems: the need for energy saving, which translates into economic savings, and a desire to improve the comfort of the environment and the well-being of those who live in it. For example, an automated system linked to lighting and the comfort that comes from it with the artificial light changing and automatically adapting to the daily changes without the need for human intervention.

There are many ways to spend the same amount of money, but some are better than others. 

‘ Our goal is to direct the customers toward the most suitable solution for them.’

When you propose an automation system, what are the reasons for indecision from the customers?

The main reason is linked to the higher cost compared to a traditional system. The obstacle is however overcome when we explain to the customers the additional features of an automation system. This is why we never send estimates via email and we prefer that the customers come to the showroom to be able to explain and motivate the offer. Otherwise the message comes across as unclear and risks of being misunderstood.

What are the customers’ demands for a home automation system?

System reliability first and foremost. Even though these technologies have been on the market for several years, people are still afraid that they will not work. The second thing is ease of use.
Speaking of office automation systems, the customers are afraid of having to invest too much time to learn how to make them work and manage them.

Do the customers have a clear idea of what to ask you?

They often do not, and precisely for this reason we have created two brochures, one for the residential world and the other for the office, in which we have divided the various offers into levels. For example, for the office, the first level consists of a simple on-off system linked to a presence sensor; the second level also includes a light control system; the third level introduces light intensity adjustment and the control of carbon dioxide in an environment with automatic air exchange. This is our claim: there are many ways to spend the same amount of money, but some are better than others. And our goal is precisely this: to understand the customers’ needs and direct them toward the most suitable solution for them.

What do industry professionals expect from an automation system?

We also want reliability, so that we can offer our customers safe solutions.
This is why we look for collaborations only with serious companies, structured with excellent technicians and an excellent after sales service.

The automation system based on KNX protocols is the most common one but now other options are available thanks to the use of Bluetooth, on which the Otomo office automation system is based: inexpensive and even easier to use. What do you think about it?

These are recent systems that I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet. But soon I will do that by testing it in my offices as I often do with new products before recommending them to my customers. It is a system that interests me a lot because, in addition to being inexpensive and very easy to use – you manage it with an app on any device – it can integrate and implement KNX systems. And this means great potential and flexibility.

How do you see the future of automation?

The current trend is to create systems controlled by voice assistants that are used basically as games and not as smart systems. If I have to continuously interact with the system to tell it what it has to do it means it is not an intelligent system.
The research that we are carrying out has the aim, instead, of creating fully automated scenarios that reduce human interactions. This is the true intelligent system and at that point the potential becomes unlimited and that is my goal.

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