March 2015
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AutomatedBuildings.com

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

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Building Automation Industry Depends On Attracting New Talent

People are our only asset.

Ken Sinclair,
AutomatedBuildings.com
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The record breaking AHR Expo in Chicago, with over 62,000 attendees and  10 acres of exhibits from over 130 countries, flies in the face of the notion that the digital world and the Internet of Things is replacing good old face-to-face interaction and networking.

So what was my takeaway from this massive show? People are our only asset. Technology may come and go, but at the core of the industry are the same people that have been there for years. The problem is that these core people are growing older and much of the discussion at this record breaking event was that we all need to plant new people, nourish them, and help them grow.

All of our education sessions also returned the conclusion that people are the only assets. Your company and industry technologies may come and go but the people are our only true asset that remains, recreates, and keeps the industry strong.

This greatly increases the importance of the induction of new blood, younger folks with IoT smarts, into our industry. If we are to build on our existing asset, "the people," then we need to invest in education and transfer of the knowledge of our assets. We need to look at new talent as an investment that can greatly increase our existing assets.

These younger folks new to our industry will likely not have the necessary training and will need to quickly jump the skills gap; a lot of discussion occurred about this in Chicago. The general conclusion is that the requirement of incoming folks is that they need to be curious, have an unbridled desire to learn, and are prepared to fail early, and relearn quickly. The word younger implies that they have grown up in an IoT world which gives them a different view on how they will learn. They need access to our existing assets, the valuable knowledge locked in the older minds of our industry but we yet have not devised the best method for this knowledge transfer.

Our three education sessions (“Growing the Building Automation Industry Younger with Internet of Things (IoT), Open Cloud, and Collaboration”) were well attended, with our first session having standing room only. It was titled: "How the Internet of Things (IoT) is Changing Building Automation."

Our next session on bridging the skill gap created great discussions and these discussions reoccurred in our fourth session: our third annual Connection Community Collaboratory.

From above - The general conclusion is that the requirement of the incoming folks is that they need to be curious, have an unbridled desire to learn, and are prepared to fail early, and relearn quickly.

Some of my takeaway questions are:

Best compliment of my life was, “U R amazing at fixing what you did wrong….that is your gift.”

I was very pleased to be asked by Fred Turner, Editor, High Performance Buildings magazine and ASHRAE Journal, to prepare a column for each day of the Show Daily. This is Fred's last year as he is retiring which adds credence to what I said earlier:

"People are our only asset. Technology may come and go, but at the core of the industry is the same people that have been there for years. The problem is that these core people are growing older, and much of the discussion at this record breaking event was that we all need to plant new people, nourish them, and help them grow."

I was very honored to be chosen to present Michael Newman his induction into the CTA hall of fame. Please read my review and watch the videos of the Control Trend Awards in Chicago and you will also see the pinnacle event of the evening was — Michael Newman, the Godfather of BACnet, and George Thomas, industry master of all networks both being inducted into the Control Trends Awards Hall of Fame.

These are real examples that the core of our industry is changing rapidly.

The highlight of the Control Trends Awards for me was that they also recognized 2014’s seven Young Gun Awards, the youth of our industry. Brad White, principal, SES Consulting, Inc., one of the original young energy folks, and I were able to pass the torch from the industry’s efforts from the past to these deserving Young Guns.

Control Solutions, Inc Eric Stromquist and Kenneth Smyers, co-founders of Control Trends Awards, are to be commended on bringing this event to the industry. We thank them and of course all the sponsors who made it happen. Control Trends is on a mission to document the assets of our industry, our people, in short videos, injecting fun, an ingredient not used much before in our industry.

Control Trends videoed the 3rd annual Connected Community Collaboratory meeting. I was a bit disappointed there were so few there for the amazing presentations — 30 to 40 — but very pleased that we will be able to collectively share this with many because it was made it into a great video.  It will be a very long video — more than one hour — but it contains many little videos with words and pictures of great wisdom by our thought leaders. Next year I think we will drop the word meeting, as I believe it prevents folks coming to the collaboratory to learn and share.

I recently watched a movie called Words and Pictures (2013). In that film, an art instructor and an English teacher develop a rivalry that ends up with a competition at their school in which students decide whether words or pictures are more important. Like the movie, I think our industry is finding that both words and pictures are necessary and when we share them using the Internet of Everything, we increase everyone’s “Internet of Me” and help grow our only asset, our people.

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