BTL Mark: Resolve interoperability issues & increase buyer confidence
Nicolas Waern and Ken Sinclair
Nicolas Waern, co founder of Smart
World consulting firm Winniio.
Some of his latest thoughts here about streaming platforms as the next big thing.
And as always, he urges everyone to change before you have to.
Sinclair: Hi Nicolas, how are things going? What are you working on at the moment?
Hi Ken, all good here. Trying to be as efficient as can be and I am
focusing on three things in general;
All three are, of course interconnected.
It’s more about asking customers where they are, what challenges they
have, what they can/cannot do based on those challenges and then
engaging in discussions on how to get to where they want to be.
Number one on the list is just me taking
the Smart Building Recipe and applying it for a
customer. I see more and more that nothing is really about technology,
but instead about everything else.
It’s straightforward consultancy work, and the important thing is to teach customers how to fish, instead of just going out there and do the fishing. As we all know, it’s more of a mindset issue than it is a technological one. This model below helps in understanding what is going on and what is needed to get there, and how to get there for the customer and me.
Figure 1. Delta Model by Enquist -
Change as a continuous process of freeze/unfreeze snapshots
Number three on the list is probably the
most fascinating one considering the theme of sharing data, interaction
Going into detail about different levels
of interoperability was supposed to be my contribution for this month’s
article, but I couldn’t nail it down. We’ll see if it provides any
interest, and it might be due for the December issue. Basically it
takes the whole discussion about the handshake problem, and semantic
interoperability to different levels, which I think are extremely
applicable to this industry.
Interesting as always. Can you tell me a bit more about the
interoperability aspects? Do you have any more pictures?
Absolutely. Let’s consider it a sneak peek of next month's article.
It was actually my wife that started
investigating different levels of interoperability during her Master in
“Even if technical systems were talking to each other, it was evident that people and organizations were not.”
She went through the process of what migrants must do to get access to the Swedish system from different perspectives. It was mesmerizing to see how inefficient processes there were on top. And it was crystal clear that even if technical systems were talking to each other, it was evident that people and organizations were not communication in an efficient way. And I think that’s the case with building automation as a whole, that even if we can standardize the hell out of everything today, we are still working on the same processes as we have always done before. I believe that the organizational interoperability, as well as legal interoperability (who’s owning the data), will be a much more interesting topic in the immediate future, in getting things going for real in real-world systems.
Where is the data coming from, how is it being shared, by whom, and does everyone have access to the correct data? Should they? A lot of questions to be asked and answered.
Figure 2. The
Interoperability framework depicts different layers of
interoperability, not limited to technical aspects
Sinclair: Working in silos is what we have done in the past, and I suppose doing right now as well. Is it the same situation in Sweden, Europe? What can you tell us?
Well, as I said in this Digital Twin podcast, Sweden is really behind
when it comes to standardization. There’s no BACnet to be seen, really,
and everything is happening on the bus-level. This makes it difficult
for existing players to create future-proof solutions, but it sure does
wonders for lock-in effects and proprietary ways of working. It also
makes it challenging for new entrants since there’s no standardization
layer to build value from. As such, there are very few Master Systems
Integrators, if any that are operating today.
We are very much operating in silos where it’s a relay race and where everyone is winning and losing at the same time. The biggest losers are, no doubt, the tenants and the users having to work and live in sub-par buildings. But there’s also a huge “loss” from a monetary perspective for the real estate owners due to inefficiencies in existing ways of working, whereas the Trillion Dollar Opportunity is probably even further away into the future here in Sweden than that of standardized countries building upon BACnet and the likes.
Sinclair: Is it all doom and gloom, or do you see some light at the beginning of this tunnel?
That’s a good question, and it’s not so much doom as it is gloom. But I
do see the light, and most importantly, I think I know how to switch
the light on faster and more sustainable than ever before.
But to be honest, I’ve had a hard time lately finding the same motivation I had a year ago in digitizing buildings. Not because I don’t know how to do it. It’s actually the other way around.
Back then, I was na´ve in thinking that
what I thought was groundbreaking information. But having talked to
experts in the field with 30+ years’ experience, I now know that
everything is yesterday's news. And it frustrates me that we are still
moving at a snail pace when everything else is moving extremely fast.
The technology is here, but it’s an industry problem where we need a
whole new roundtable approach to things. Forget about waterfall
thinking and relay-races.
We need to go at it from a more holistic
perspective and need to re-think “industrial” so that new people can
come in, thrive as well as excel at their job.
It sounds like a lot of doom and gloom still to be honest. Any remedies?
Some background first (of course):
I was in a discussion the other day with
a technical company selling connectivity solutions. They were not
selling as well as they should be, and I thought I was giving them some
helpful pointers in creating a scalable and repeatable business.
What was going to be a friendly chat about future synergies, swiftly turned into a heated argument that got stuck in between Netflix – and traditional ways of working.
I argue that companies need a
Netflix-mindset - in the industrial IoT-space, or industrial automation
space, or any space for that matter in order to survive the next
decade. And also a clear understanding of who the customer is and what
experience should be provided for it.
What I mean with a Netflix mindset – experience is that it should be
super easy to understand what needs to be done. The customer should be
able to figure it out without 10 days of training and continuous
seminars once new updates are released. It must super simple from start
Whereas the person I was talking to
argued that it needed to be complex. Actually, I don’t necessarily
think that’s what he meant, but it came to a Mexican standoff where no
one wanted to budge, which is a problem. It’s not so much about
simplifying the ways of working behind the scenes. But companies need
to put themselves in the minds of the customer and develop solutions
with them, in order to get solutions that are made for them.
In short- the remedy is to simplify the
user experience to that of a Netflix experience. Both from a User
Interaction standpoint and User Experience for the different customers,
any application will be used by.
Sinclair: Interesting perspective and it’s got a lot to do with integration and customer interaction. Netflix experience, Yes or No? Any final words?
A question for your readers.
What do you and your readers think? Are
applications in the world of BAS/BMS similar to that of a Netflix
experience? Is there a difference between owners, FM-people, technical
integrators, field technicians, and should there be?
What is a Netflix experience, really? Is it only from the technical side of things or also from the business standpoint of getting access to data, payments, upgrades, maintenance, support, customizability and ease of getting started? Will it help in bringing new people to the business as well as getting more customers over the threshold to new systems?
Should there be Netflix Experience or
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