As far as optimization goes, the platform, embedded with intelligence, can figure out the most energy efficient configurations automatically. This means the controls will optimize parameters such as fan and pump management thresholds, water temperature set point, scheduling, etc. and quantify the benefits of various configurations in terms of energy usage.
Stick to the standard. Integrating your devices with the cloud is just the first step. Even as a small, local vendor you might end up servicing global clients which would require your products to have cloud-to-cloud connectivity with other IoT systems.