Cisco wants to transform workplaces into digital buildings. And to do so, it is launching a variety of products and network innovations that it hopes will generate more speed, cost savings, security, and better overall customer experiences.

On the product side, the company is announcing today a new switch that is designed especially for digital buildings: The Cisco Catalyst Digital Building Series Switch.

The move is part of a larger vision to make buildings work better for people. What if, for instance, you walk into a store and the floor lights up to show you the way to the product that you are searching for, like your favorite shampoo? Or if you enter a shared office space and the room knows who you are and adjusts the lights and temperature to your liking?

Cisco recognizes that companies are digitizing their business operations, and buildings are central to this kind of digital transformation. These kinds of changes can turn out to be competitive advantages for the companies that embrace them, from those in retail to hotels.

The idea is to create better experiences for workers and guests and to save both money and energy. But first, a bunch of systems that control everything from badge swipes to lighting and air conditioning must work together as if they were one. And they must be secure.

Cisco says managing buildings is getting more complex.

Above: Cisco says managing buildings is getting more complex.

Image Credit: Cisco

The company said it has two major customers, Sinclair Holdings in Fort Worth, Texas, and Alpiq InTec in Switzerland. Sinclair is a property management firm that converted a downtown office into an upscale hotel. Cisco said Sinclair has been able to reduce its energy bill by 50 percent.

“The Catalyst Digital Building Series Switch allows us to converge disparate building systems onto a single IP platform,” said Farukh Aslam, president of Sinclair Holdings, in a statement. “We can now establish digital competencies for tomorrow’s hospitality industry. As one of the world’s largest hospitality brands, this allows Marriott to enjoy real-time analytics and reduce energy costs. It also offers our business travelers and unique destination vacationers an authentic, enhanced boutique experience.”

And in Switzerland, Alpiq InTec used Cisco to integrate occupancy, lighting, and environmental data. It reduced power outages, and power efficiency is way up.

Sachin Gupta, vice president of enterprise switching at Cisco, said in a statement, “As far as convergence of IoT devices in a building, this product leap-frogs a generation of innovation. It brings new IoT protocol integration, automation, and enterprise security by extending the Digital Network Architecture to digital buildings. Cisco is proud to continue providing industry-leading innovation to customers like Sinclair Holdings.”

Cisco's Blueprint for a digital building.

Above: Cisco’s Blueprint for a digital building.

Image Credit: Cisco

The new switch is built specifically for the needs of digital buildings by powering and connecting building systems onto a single, low-voltage Internet Protocol network. Cisco has partnered with 23 companies in an ecosystem to help make this happen.

The system supports convergence of disparate systems like lighting, heading and air conditioning (HVAC), and badge identification. The switch supports a protocol for Internet of Things (making everyday objects smart and connected) called the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) — an industry first.

It also extends Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA) to digital buildings where security is top of mind. With automatic profiling of devices, segmentation, and policy enforcement, Cisco said it can make building security a lot more robust.

The switch supports bigger, brighter lighting fixtures and can get the power back on within 5 seconds of a power outage. It also simplifies installation, allowing technicians to install it using Bluetooth and a mobile app.

And it runs quietly. It has a fanless design that makes it ideal for anywhere that requires quiet — like hospitals, retail shops, hotels, and the workplace.

The Catalyst Digital Building Series switch is available April 2017. Starting price is $895.