July 2008

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

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"Ken’s theme for the next 10 years is about change .... I would like to propose a way of thinking that may well help you make a decision as to how to proceed".


Anto Budiardjo
President & CEO,
Clasma Events Inc.

Contributing Editor

At BuilConn, we always start events with a video montage; recently we’ve ended the videos with the tagline, “Isn’t this a great time to be alive?” This is the best way I can describe the commendable achievement that Ken and Jane Sinclair have accomplished in the past 10 years, and all the more reason to anticipate even more in the next 10 years.

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Ken has provided a good summary of the past 10 years, so I need not labor on it here, save to say that the result of change is pervasive from technology, corporate structure, market behavior and most importantly, the value proposition to building owners. The elephant in the room is clearly energy, and if there is anyone left in the industry who does not understand how energy, green and sustainability is going to change this space they need to take a very very serious look at what they are doing. I have heard comments that integrators are focused on delivering business today, closing on contracts based on owner’s requirements, and that sustainability is not being requested.

I’ve talked a lot recently about how people look at change so I didn’t want to delve into that that subject now, but Ken’s theme for the next 10 years is about change. The quote from Gandhi, “be the change you want to see in the world”, needs to be tweaked for us to “be the change you want to see in the industry”, or to make it more relevant to your business, to “be the change you want to see in your business”.

I would like to propose a way of thinking that may well help you make a decision as to how to proceed, to make the change that Ken Sinclair is advocating we all make.


Let’s try and simplify the matrix of possibilities in the future of Building Automation. The matrix is based on considering two key questions:

  1. Is the green, sustainable energy buzz and convergence real? And, will it have a potential impact on the industry?

  2. Do you, as a player in this industry, do anything about it?

Let us put these two questions into a matrix:

Question Matrix

Let us look at the four resulting outcome:

If you do nothing, and the impact to the BAS industry is real (top left), you will be in trouble. In the worst case, you will be out of business, and in the best case, your business will be working in marginal areas, providing less valuable commodity or utilitarian services to the industry.

If you do nothing, and the effect of sustainability to BAS is, in fact, fiction (bottom left), then life continues as you see it today. Your business will continue, and all is ok.

If the impact of sustainability is, in fact, true, and you did do something about it (top right), then the outcome is that you will be significantly on top of the world; your business will flourish in new areas and you will have gained competitive advantages (compared to those that did nothing).

The last possible outcome (bottom right) is that you were proactive in changing, and, in fact, there was no impact from sustainable energy to the BAS industry. You would have “wasted” some time, though I would argue that you probably would have seen other side benefits to this path.


Reliable Controls So, if you can accept (in broad terms) that the above scenarios are a reasonable portrayal of the possible outcomes, it leaves the question of how this can help you make the right decision.

I have learnt a lot in my years going around the sun, and two particular lessons come to mind here. The first: In your life you have to make bets; not just Vegas types of bets, but bets on paths related to life, business, personal, etc. So, at this point, I am asking you to make a bet. The second: You will do better if you focus on the things you can control and not worry too much on things you cannot control (though you should keep an eye on them).

The first question (impact to BAS) is effectively beyond our individual control, only time will tell, while the second question (what you do) is totally within your control.

So, most people that I speak to are asking the question about the impact of sustainability, convergence and other esoteric changes in the industry. These are great questions, but unfortunately it’s the wrong question, since most of us will not have much, if any, control of the answer to this question.

The second question however, is where you need to place your bet. Do you do nothing, or be proactive in change? These are your only choices at this point, so let’s consider the outcome.

If you do nothing, your best scenario is life continues as normal, but your worst scenario is that your business will have been marginalized, if it continues to exist at all! The risk associated with either of these scenarios is, I would suggest, not good.

Let’s look at the possible outcome from being proactive. The worst-case scenario is that you would have wasted some time looking into something that was unnecessary; in my opinion, whenever I look outside the box, and keep an open mind, I usually find some unexpected benefits, so I would argue that this is not such a bad scenario. Should the impact to BAS indeed be real (top right box), you would have won the jackpot and have improved your business significantly.


So, it’s down to you. If you do nothing, you stand no chance of a jackpot, could face downturn in business, and your best case is life continues. Being proactive, on the other hand, provides for the only possibility of a jackpot, while a worst-case scenario is wasting some time and resources.

But remember, asking the question of how much impact sustainability and convergence is going to yield (I would describe this as “row thinking”) is not a very fruitful exercise to plan your business future. Your decisions should be based on what you do (this would be “column thinking”).


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