What an unusual year it has been. It is an understatement to say society has experienced a pretty turbulent time since coronavirus broke out back in March. Yet, as a business Sontay has emerged from the eye of the pandemic remarkably fortunate. With this in mind, what have been the highs of 2020 and what is Sontay’s forecast for 2021?

This year has been challenging for us all. We have and continue to be separated from those we love and our daily lives have changed beyond measure. The distance we feel and have experienced has been somewhat lessened by the presence of technology, however. It is something we can be thankful for this year.

Online training

As a business here at Sontay, we simply wouldn’t have been able to continue our important training without technology. Digitising the Sontay Academy prevented any disruption, and also internationalised our brand in new ways. We’ve had participants join from across the globe; a possibility that wouldn’t have been feasible as global travel comes at a cost and has for a long while been untenable. Those who were hesitant of technology are now seeing the numerous benefits. As people are more comfortable with doing things they were once uncertain of, we aim to evolve and elaborate our online training presence. We will definitely be building on this success!

New products

As well as introducing more training courses, we will be launching new products in 2021. The need for well-ventilated spaces has never been more important, and consumers are more aware of the indoor air quality conditions that they need. This year has really driven everyone's attention to the state of the air in their buildings and the impact this can have on removing pollutants and other harmful bacteria. Our sensors play an important role in maintaining a high level of indoor air quality, so I have no doubt that 2021 will be an exciting year from this perspective.

New staff

The Sontay team expanded in 2020, with lots of starters and promotions! Our new MD, Mark Newton is leading the way with a wealth of experience behind him, and Phil Berry was promoted to National Sales Manager for the UK, which is adding new energy to the team. We also expanded our marketing team, with the young Charlie Joy joining us. He’s definitely brough a new dynamic. Sontay’s strategy process has also been reinvigorated, with everyone having clear roles to play in the year ahead.

Smart buildings

Smart buildings have been around for a very long time; I've worked at Sontay for nearly 20 years and we've been selling sensors that work with building management systems since the 70s. Back then we called them intelligent buildings. It’s so strange that a trend has evolved and smart buildings have become fashionable, when many offices, shopping centres and the like have been ‘smart’ for so many years.

I think the change has come in part with the advent of home automation. Alexa’s, Echo’s and Google Nests are firm fixtures in every household. With the development of IT, smart solutions have become far more accessible. People are recognising that they have these devices at home, and are also noticing them in different forms when they go to commercial areas such as hotels and shopping centres. 

The combination of increasing focus on air quality coupled with smart technology means consumers are far more attuned to their environment. People want to know that the places they spend long periods of time in are comfortable and healthy. They also want these spaces to be environmentally-conscious. With that, comes more attention on the role buildings play in the climate crisis.

Government recently launched a 10-point programme plan to make net zero aims more attainable. Managing our buildings with greater efficiency is one of the pillars to help reach those goals. The focus on air quality and coronavirus, energy conservation and management, and carbon targets is undoubtedly strong. As a supplier of sensors for smart or intelligent buildings, 2021 might just be the year for Sontay.