July 2021

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Understanding and Procuring the Next New

How do we quickly understand, procure and make the Next New part of today's Smart Building User Experience?

Ken Sinclair
Founder, Owner, Publisher AutomatedBuildings.com

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How do we quickly understand, procure and make the Next New part of today's Smart Building User Experience?

From Monday Live - Video of our great discussion about Smart Building User Experience with Paul Maximuk from Newcomb & Boyd, LLP

Some of Paul's words from video

one of the key things that we see all the time in our organization, when we're working with clients, is not all the right people are at the table. Typically, it's a group designated for user experience to solve some of the use cases that they've developed. But they don't engage the IT folks, which is a huge concern, because you're connecting to those systems, you're bringing data from multiple sources that may already be on the corporate network, may possibly be a cloud hosted solution, could be something that may be a hybrid of both. And quite honestly, it's too late in the game to bring the IT team to there after the fact. So one of the key things that I would recommend, anytime you go on this journey, when you're developing your use cases, when you're working for your user experience, how you want to present that and connect all these different systems is bring that engagement, make sure you have solution architects, cybersecurity experts, your network engineering teams involved as part of that day one discussion, because they are really going to be able to point you in the right direction, especially if you're doing this as an enterprise solution, as many of you may have been involved with, with global departments. So that's the first step. So one of the things that we start when you know, Danny is, as Ken mentioned, Danny Walker was how to control what's going on. And we talked about that smart building, building out that infrastructure, building out that user experience, you know, working with the use cases and what you're trying to achieve. The bottom line is, we're looking at a lot of different types of information we have a lot of different groups have different requirements. And really, we need to define those and see how we can merge those things together and use those technologies that are already on prem connected to your systems, such as your BMS, you know your elevator, you know, your fire, protecting all those core infrastructure systems, and then start bringing in other systems that may include occupant experience, such as your spatial utilization sensors, people counting, contactless security, entry into the facility, elevator calls, turnstiles, where it starts to become a seamless experience to that user. And that's really what we try to drive to. We don't want people to have to think about how to use the technology. We want the people to use that technology as an enabler to solve day to day, you know, issues that you may have in, you know, trying to get around, connect to meetings and so forth. So, I guess let's start there. And I guess, let's start looking at answering maybe some of the questions that you may have, or somebody may have. And then I can go in deeper as you ask those questions.

Looking back to look forward

I grew up in the industry in a time of rapid evolution in the Direct Digital Control revolution, as a consultant working with a very enlighten owner, we quickly learn the we could not specify technology that was changing so rapidly and had so many new dimension that we did not know what was available. The technology was morphing to something new in the time the projects took to complete.  We need to adopt a just in time purchasing policy completely independent from the long project time lines that insured technology obsolescence.  The procurement process needed to educate us as well as insure we were aware of the next new. We used a Request for Proposal (RFP) outlining our Mandatory Requirements and reason for procurement. This turned out to be much harder that we had expected. Free of any technology what did we want to achieve? We need to do all of what the technology of the day was capable of so we need to interview our perceived leaders and interviewed them and watched there demo and talked to their customers better understand their offering and pre qualify them for our RFP invitations.

I very much believe this is the best way for our industry to move forward with AI first and Mobile First thinking. I like to think of "AI" not so much as Artificial Intelligence but Additional Intelligences making our equations more real than artificial.


Using the RFP
First of all, we call the systems, we were buying client comfort systems, which was kind of unique. Secondly, we used a request for proposal because the technology was changing so fast, we had no earthly idea what we were buying. And then the next piece of this puzzle was mandatory requirements. Based on on the requirements and also interviewing of these new technology companies and learning from them. Every time we went out for a proposal. Then we basically took the good ideas from the last one made the mandatory requirements stronger. That's how we grew the DDC industry in Western Canada. And it was a very significant change. We are at that exactly at that same point in time, we need to grow up our requests for proposals for these new systems trying to figure out what our mandatory requirements are. That exercise will amaze you at how long it takes to try and figure out with the client, the folks that are in the building, everybody, what are the mandatory requirements? What is this this system supposed to do? Is air quality, a big portion of it? All these pieces have to be defined. What do we need to do with the data, I think what we might find is our systems are being designed from a technology point of view not user experience. We really need to define them from a customer client use.

When we brought in Our RFP for DDC, it was like magic, and nobody could get their mind around it. This is exactly the same thing. Artificial Intelligence, mobile first, all this stuff is, is a technology that we know about, but we don't completely know, we don't design for it. First, we don't make it part of our product, we don't make it part of our sales pitches and our buildings. We need to, we need to change our whole approach, we gotta learn how to Naviagate Next New and achieve our Mandatory Requirements

Having problems specifying rapidly evolving building automation? we have been here before this 20 year old article talks of our solutions which I feel are very relevant now.

The Request For Proposal (RFP) approach has been used by the Information Technology (IT) industry for several years. This approach allows the purchaser to focus on actual functional requirements rather than being confused with the various technologies supplied by vendors. Time is well-spent defining mandatory requirements and gives a clearer understanding of how the technology will achieve our goals. Once mandatory requirements and "nice to have" features are defined we can send out a Request For Proposal to allow vendors using different technologies to present proposals on how they will meet our requirements as well as expounding on their ability to provide further enhancements.

Article was up dated in 2020 Requesting Innovation Create your "Request for Proposal for Innovation" Innovation is a timeless ingredient, a necessary part of our successful transformation, needed now more than ever.

Selecting the Building Automation or Systems Integration Contractor The process that we use involves a formal “Request for Proposals” (RFP), allowing us to gather information and evaluate it in an impartial manner.

Qualification Process Flow:

  1. Develop a set of pre-qualification criteria and issue an RFP.
  2. Work with the owner and project team to identify a list of potential integrators who will receive the RFP.
  3. Issue the document to invited integrators.
  4. Respond to questions by integrators as required.
  5. Evaluate written results including references.
  6. Conduct interviews, tests and site visits.
  7. Provide scoring input and a full written on recommended approval of products and contractors.


As always, if I stop talking about building automation, I get way more reads.  We had our article connected contractor driving and dodging digital dinosaurs, posted on LinkedIn . As my daughter quips, Jurassic times we call for drastic measures. If you remember in the Jurassic period was when birds started learning how to fly and I think maybe that's where we are as an industry. We're just starting to learn how to fly. James Dice couldn't be with us today. Following some of his stuff, and we were chatting back and forth about them. The Power of windshield time. That was when you're trapped in a car with somebody going somewhere and you have this amazing conversation because you have their undivided attention 300 miles or something like that. We also posted comments about when these dinosaurs hit the winshield they're messy, there's some real, some real variances in thought these days, to follow some of his thinking, some of these people because he has actually a whole network of folks that are thinking quite differently, and applied their thinking. And then the other one we did is, we posted a need for AI first strategies. And the courses from our contributing editor, Nicolas wrote about the AI age.  AI is so powerful to actually get it up there first in the design, because it radically changes the design, just simplifies how things about the way things are done, if we know how it's going to be used, even if maybe it's not even artificial intelligence, maybe it's just added intelligence. Maybe that is what AI stands for.

Navigating the next news, discover what the next new is, and how we can best discover, understand and make it part of our next solution. And how do we purchase what has not been invented yet? And how do we navigate uncharted waters?

IoT mobile first approach is, take our things that are really complex, break them into small parts, and they make it do one thing. Example indoor air quality, they don't have to look at the filters, they don't have to look at whether the fans running backwards and any of that complex stuff that's in our heads. What happens is our great wealth of experience almost hamstrings us, or we basically, we've thought so much we're unable to move. The young people come in, and they say, well, all we want to do is measure the indoor air quality. I don't really want to get involved in your complex systems. So by breaking it into pieces, they make it simple. I think there wisdom in that approach. And that's a lot of what I'm thinking navigating next new is.

Other complexity we have as we drag all of our technologies for the last 20 to 30 years with us, and the IT folks get to start with all brand new stuff. So they can go really fast. And we have to go really slow. Our approach is really complex, because we're supporting up to 15 systems is not uncommon.

Several British Columbia start-ups that are now highly successfully international companies owe their start to a team of visionaries, who were focused and were resolved to get high performance controls in BC

Bill thanks for the Kodak Moment.

In your Kodak post "RIP Too Big to Change" reminded me I had occasion to explain to my granddaughter why some of the older pictures were black and white. We talked about the problems of early films/prints holding their color which ended with a question, "Papa what is film?"

I needed to explain film/prints to her......hum well it was something like a memory card.

Because I did not know exactly the complicated photographic process or how to explain film/printing easily to someone born connected and drawing pictures on a tablet in color or taking them on her phone as her first experience to image recording.

She seemed Ok with the answer imagining that black and white film/printing was the first kind of memory recording and at some time we were able to do this in color.

The next question completely floored me

"Papa when did you first see color?"

Our technologies alter everyone's perception of the world.

Until we were able to capture and print color our recorded world was back and white. The really old black and white movies she had seen proved that was true.

Is our problem that we still see the world and try to explain it and interface with it in only the technologies we understand? Just black and white?

But the new born connected world is looking at everthng in color and our B&W message is confusing ?

Evolution is hard and learning how to fly even harder but we will do it or die trying.

Lets all champion change and talk only in a born connected color world.



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