“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”~Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
As I look out into 2019 and beyond, I see our industry making leaps and bounds in the direction of intelligent buildings as well as a deeper understanding of the interdependent systems within these buildings. But today’s reality is many are understandably stuck in the inertia of daily firefighting to keep buildings functioning.
We know data is a large part of the solution to shift from reactive operations to an active operational stance, but data often ends up siloed across building systems and departments.
What if we made a collective New Year’s resolution to break down silos and demonstrate how systems that are designed from the beginning to share and leverage data across functional boundaries are in fact more beneficial, more efficient, and have a better ROI?
Given the daily pressures of managing buildings and portfolios of properties, today’s thinking is often about discreet product purchases versus planning ahead for future integration. Often individual domain experts end up making decisions in a vacuum, such as looking for a fault detection solution separate from ticketing systems, separate from optimization services, and separate from occupancy detection sensors. I would argue this approach is inherently shortsighted as it fails to acknowledge all of these are interdependent systems within a building or portfolio of buildings.
This happens for many reasons, but mostly because people are stretched thin, product decisions are coming from different budgets, or it is simply often hard to make decisions collaboratively. What ends up happening is exactly what we do not want —siloed data and functionality first, with integration as an afterthought that requires a huge investment down the road.
This is not Interoperability 2.0. Instead it is a call to look at systems with a data-first perspective. Therefore, my proposed resolution for our industry woes is: To resolve to look at buildings holistically; to push for services and systems across your organization that have a utilization of data as a core design tenet; and finally, to resolve to leverage the maximum out of the data you have.
How can this be done? This resolution is centered on a holistic, systems perspective where any component needs to be thought of as interconnected. For this wish to become reality, we need to start with this notion of shared data from inception and decisions that are done in strategic context.
In practical terms, when assessing new technologies for your building(s), ask:
Benefits of this approach range from energy efficiency to comfort to operational optimization. You can use asset data for the lighting or HVAC group, or optimize space and lease structures. You can maximize the utility of acquisition of software services. Importantly, it helps ensure things do not sit in disrepair and are offline for weeks.
This holistic view requires the right vision for the future, strategic thinking, and a mindset change that no system should be purchased, acquired, and designed in a vacuum. It requires us to ask questions like, how does my purchasing decision today bring value for this year, next year, 10 years, or longer? And how do we define value? Simply the ROI for the service, or how we can leverage the data beyond the service? That is the key.
In 2019, it is no longer enough to choose best-of-breed services or applications for each function within a building. Multiple vendors are the way to go, but only under the premise that systems are designed to leverage shared data now and into the future.
I wish each and every one of you a prosperous new year. May it bring fortune to those brave enough to evolve beyond the silos of today and embrace the new possibilities of holistic thinking.
Michael Nark is president & CEO at BuildingIQ. Michael has more than 30 years of experience in software and technology-enabled services. Prior to BuildingIQ he was president & CEO at Power Analytics, Prenova, and GEOCOMtms. He holds a B.S. in Engineering from Miami University.