Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Howard Berger and Ken Sinclair
Howard Berger, Program Director, Realcomm
Howard Berger has over 30 years’ experience in technology and commercial/investment real estate. As Realcomm’s
Program Director, he manages its US and international conferences and
CIO programs. Immediately prior to Realcomm, he was with The Jamesan
Group, a strategic technology consultancy for the commercial real
estate . Before that was with TRW Real Estate Information Systems where
they pioneered and developed digital real estate information systems
for the real estate investment, mortgage, appraisal and title insurance
Sinclair: What were the big topics of discussion at this year’s IBcon?
took a front seat at both Realcomm and IBcon this year. It was
addressed by a number of stakeholders including integrators, end-user
IT executives, equipment manufacturers as well as cybersecurity
solution providers and government agencies such as FBI and Dept of
Homeland Security. Other major topics were IoT, data and analytics,
cloud, mobility as well as human and social engineering necessary to
support technology transformation were addressed in many of the 100+
Sinclair: What trends have you seen emerging over the past year?
Berger: At the June
conference we showcased more new case studies than ever before, many of
which were large scale and evidenced a much more broader perspective on
building technologies as a strategic asset. We also saw a large number
new solution and service providers entering the industry, which was
somewhat reminiscent of the "dot-com" years.
Sinclair: How was this year's adoption different than last?
Berger: If you recall
Geoffrey Moore was our keynote in 2014. Geoffrey made famous the
technology adoption curve showing stages of adoption from early adopter
to technology laggard. This year we moved to the right, up the curve,
jumping the chasm and saw a substantial increase in the number of folks
who are either considering or digesting a smart building strategy. Not
quite prime time yet but definitely on the move.
Sinclair: With so much changing so quickly, what do you see as our main challenges to adoption?
Berger: As happened 15
years ago during "dot-com", we are seeing new vendors piling into the
industry. The problem is that there still is a lack of clear taxonomy
for product feature sets. Many vendors claim their products do
many things i.e. everyone says they do analytics but often are vague
about exactly what they do and how they do it. This applies to all the
elements of a comprehensive platform – analytics, FDD, visualization,
logging, tagging, data modeling, communications, cloud, control…etc.
Sinclair: How is this change impacting system integrators?
Berger: One of the
major themes this year was that traditional system integrators will
also need to evolve. We’ve moved from single-focused proprietary
solutions that support one building at a time to IP/IT-centric to
integrated solutions that connect multiple buildings and result in
comprehensive analytics and process automation. Moving to the next
generation of even more highly configurable, smart building systems is
going to to require that integrators have a whole different type of
conversation with clients - listening vs. selling widgets,
understanding business objectives and client goals, solutions vs.
technology, integration challenges, understanding and responding to
sophisticated client requirements. A lot of old behaviors will need to
Sinclair: How do we find, train and retain the next generation of smart building integrators?
question, I think this is one of the industry’s biggest challenges.
What are the basic skillsets required – technical, analytical,
facilities and business communications. Is it easier to re-train a
traditional building automation engineer on IT, train an IT engineer on
facilities operations, or start from scratch? What type of
ongoing training is going to be required? There are only a handful of
colleges, universities and tech programs with intelligent facilities or
building automation curricula now.
Sinclair: How can our readers learn more about Realcomm and IBcon?
Berger: Go to our website www.realcomm.com
and link to our past Advisory newsletters, that’s a good start. Also,
we’ve posted a number of conference videos, including interviews on http://livestream.com/wab/realcomm2015 and at http://controltrends.org/category/realcomm-ibcon-2015/.
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