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|The Myths of the Master Systems Integrator
For too many in the BAS industry, the role of the MSI is still a mystery and sounds like a fictional future story.
The Myths of the Master Systems Integrator
To some contractors in the BAS industry, the
MSI is this impervious controls contractor whom tells all the other contractors
what to do. They can do no wrong on a
project, only right. They have an open
check book from the owner to do anything they want, and the owner doesn’t
care. They live in an ivory BAS palace on
top of the BAS mountain where all the vendors come to suck up to them.
To some end users in the BAS industry, the
MSI is just the graphics provider. All they do is make graphics from systems
that are made to work by other trades. They make it look pretty for the maintenance
team and end up getting all the adds and services after the project is completed,
because the system they put in is proprietary.
While many around the industry may have
some consternations about the concept of the MSI, the owners who have embraced the
concept are HAPPY. They have taken their building controls to new places and
are really having some fun with technology and data for their buildings today. For them it’s like having access to a Building
Controls SWAT Team…….for data design, integration, commissioning, technology
selection, IT department collaboration, cyber security concerns, software tool
management and much more. Successful building
owners brag to others about how effective the MSI is and often do not want to
share their relationships, to avoid their MSI from becoming too busy and losing
attention to their needs.
But for too many in the BAS industry, the
role of the MSI is still a mystery and sounds like a fictional future story.
SO WHY DO WE NEED MSI’s?
Over the last decade or so, I have
witnessed the evolution of the modern building control platform provider. The platform (control system) in the early
days was a Manufacturers Only Members Club, but innovative,
dedicated independent contractors wedged their way into the business. This increased
the competition, and the best technological solutions over time have become the
winners of most current projects. The
BEST technological control solutions are now those that enable the building
owner to develop world class capabilities in energy efficiency, building
operations, and the big one TENANT experience. Buildings by nature are usually BIG and not
easy to get under control. Usually, they
will have digital silos that need to be connected. Because of this, another
control system needs to be on the project, typically in the form of a network
with software that can connect, manage, and share data while bringing that BIG
building under control. Owners, now
enabled with more tools than ever to improve their building control systems,
found themselves without a way to implement these solutions. They started repurposing strong technical
contractors (usually BAS contractors) and relationships into their building
control platform provider and created the opportunity the MSI is working to
SO WHAT DO MSI’s ACTUALLY DO?
Owner Control System
Technology Consultant – Meets directly with the
owner to understand their control system needs and regularly attends
design/project meetings to ensure proper selection/implementation of technology. Ongoing support for changes and new systems
being added over time.
Control System IT Managed
Service Provider – Network - layout, installation,
cyber security design, cloud connections… Every communicating control system
needs a network when mixing systems.
Without an MSI, the load typically ends up with a business IT department
that typically doesn’t understand building controls.
Total Building Control
Software Provider – Install, set up, integrate
diverse systems, network device management/security, share data with other
systems, serve graphical interfaces and system tools.
Managed Services Provider – Provide software as a service to leverage the building information
and provide an array of services to the building which are now typically cloud
The most successful MSI implementations are
those that are owner led and procured as a professional service. Similar to the relationship between owner and
consulting engineers, owners find the most value when MSIs are hired on an
ongoing basis and allow the owner to use them whenever and however they
choose. It takes time for the MSI to
learn an owner's preferences and operations, and over time the relationship
becomes more efficient as the MSI earns the trust of the end user and no longer
needs much attention or time from the owner to meet their needs.
I know the name Master Systems Integrator
may seem vague, and I truly don’t think it matters what you call the contractor
that performs that work. The key is in getting it done by the right people with
the right attitude. The reality is that
there is a new sheriff in town when it comes to modern BAS providers, and it's
not just the manufacturers’ branches anymore. Heads up, you never know when an MSI might
show up for your project.
“Join us at the 2022 AHR Expo! Hosted by automatedbulidings.com, Scott Cochrane and other industry leaders will be speaking more in depth about the MSI and other industry hot topics in FREE education session! Located in room N239 sessions running all day Monday, January 31, and Tuesday, February 1, during the expo. You can view the full line up of AHR sessions here:
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