Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Anto Budiardjo, Fractional Entrepreneur
Jim Lee is the founder of Cimetrics and has acted as its CEO since its formation. Jim has been a leader in the embedded control networking and building automation community for nearly 30 years. As founder and former President of the BACnet Manufacturers Association, the leading open systems networking consortium in the building automation industry, and Jim’s aggressive promotion of the BACnet open protocol standard has helped make Cimetrics a high-profile player in the arena. In recent years, Jim has led Cimetrics’ entry into the Facility IT space with Analytika, a cloud-based analytics platform based on 200-plus person-years of experience gained from working in the building automation arena. Jim Lee has a B.A. in Physics from Cornell University.
Facility IT is a discipline lying at the intersection of Building Automation Systems (BAS), Facility Management (FM), and Information Technology (IT). It’s best described as the use of information technology to ensure that the building systems are performing and delivering on the needs of the organization who pay for and rely on the facility. Facility IT emerged from the New Deal for Buildings initiative.
Anto Budiardjo: Please tell the readers
of your take on Facility IT
Jim Lee: Having spent the better part of
my career in the building automation space, I am seeing greater
adoption of more sophisticated technologies, especially those that are
in many ways more IT than BAS. The target audience for many of our
analytics solutions, on the other hand, is more FM than BAS. So I think
there is a realignment going on, and the concept of Facility IT
Anto Budiardjo: Where do you fit in the
new world of Facility IT?
Jim Lee: We have spent the last 25 years applying
IT technology to embedded networking and the IoT. Our BACnet
software and products, used by over 50% of BAS manufacturers worldwide,
is well grounded in BAS. We feel that our journey from the
early days of BACnet to today’s broad adoption gives us an
unprecedented understanding and perspectives on what is needed by both
BAS and Facility IT stakeholders. Our Analytika analytics platform, on
the other hand, is a cloud solution built for those running facilities,
so it’s much more of an IT/FM service offering sitting atop of BAS,
right in the domain of Facility IT. We view ourselves as the
bridge between BAS and IT.
Anto Budiardjo: In what way does
Facility IT help your business?
Jim Lee: We increasingly see that the
value proposition of our analytics offerings is best targeted at senior
executives, who regretfully see most buildings related proposals as
cost mitigation that is in the domain of building engineers and not
proposals that can improve the value of their facility for their
business. I believe that this is an inherent nature of how BAS is
perceived. Facility IT helps by defining a different proposition for
solutions that are not doing the low-level functions of controlling
building systems, but by ensuring that the building systems address the
business needs of the entity who is relying on the facility.
Anto Budiardjo: How does BACnet relate
to Facility IT?
Jim Lee: For Facility IT solutions to
succeed, it is important for them to have easy access to BAS
information. If you recall the tenets of the New Deal, this is best
done by an open standard, which for buildings, can only mean BACnet.
So, I strongly believe that BACnet is inherently part of the future
success of Facility IT, and conversely, Facility IT is part of the
success of BACnet.
Anto Budiardjo: How does Digital Twin
relate to Facility IT?
Jim Lee: Digital Twins are a type of
technology offering; for my company that’s Analytika, and there are
other flavors from other vendors. I see Facility IT as more of a
discipline, an industry segment that uses Digital Twin, as well as
other technologies to perform its work. Digital Twin is in fact much
more in the IT domain than anything else, so Facility IT provides that
critical link between BAS and IT.
Anto Budiardjo: What advice would you
give to the BAS industry about Facility IT?
Jim Lee: The BAS industry is
fundamentally a cost mitigation business, that is, to use the least
amount of energy to make buildings habitable. There are clearly savings
from doing things right here, but with the information technology
available today, there is a much greater value that can be created by
ensuring the facility contributes to the success of the business, not
just by lowering costs. In addition, traditional business models
in building automation have commoditized as a result of open
systems. Downward pressure on margins in these traditional ways
of making money provide a strong incentive for BAS payers to look
towards Facility IT as a potential new way to generate margin for their
businesses. Many have opined about this trend in recent years, and
Facility IT nicely captures this by explaining the elements necessary
to make it real.
Anto Budiardjo: How can our BAS readers
Jim Lee: First of all, by reading and
sharing the New Deal blog, AutomatedBuildings.com and other sites that
are discussing this movement. I also suggest considering what role you
play in Facility IT, maybe you are enabling Facility IT by ensuring BAS
information is provided to Facility IT systems using standards such as
BACnet and Haystack. If you are involved in networking and
cybersecurity, consider your work as IT players would do. If you work
with FM companies, make sure they can easily gain access to BAS to make
their work more efficient and productive.
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