July 2015
Interview

AutomatedBuildings.com

Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Howard BergerEMAIL INTERVIEWHoward 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 industries.



Realcomm and IBcon

Cybersecurity took a front seat at both Realcomm and IBcon this year.

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SinclairWhat were the big topics of discussion at this year’s IBcon?

Berger:  Cybersecurity 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+ conference sessions.
 
SinclairWhat 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.
 
SinclairHow 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.
 
SinclairWith 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.
 
SinclairHow 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 change.
          
SinclairHow do we find, train and retain the next generation of smart building integrators?

Reliable ControlsBerger:  Great 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.
 
SinclairHow 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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