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Master Systems Integrator and SMART Projects

If you are surprised every time your SMART phone has a newer model or amazing new app don’t be, technology these days is changing at an alarming pace and is all of the the infrastructure and the systems that can be controlled by our SMART phones. It is amazing what we can do with smart home functions and it is even more amazing how dagg gone complicated it is to get all of that SMART Tech running at home. Well Beyond our houses SMART technology is taking over on a commercial level and cars, office buildings, factories and entire Cities are going SMART.

And they call it SMART Technology … SMART Buildings, SMART Campuses and SMART Communities. 

As SMART Technology advances, it gets more complicated and the demands on SMART properties to become more energy efficient, environmentally conscious and completely “connected” are becoming increasingly a requirement in new construction.

These SMART designs incorporate a wide array of very complex networks and software systems. Many times, these systems have poor interoperability or none at all. It takes a team a very skilled people with a wide array of capabilities to design implement and manage a SMART project. 

Master System Integrators

MSIs or Master System Integrators are the people that are helping us get through it all. Think of them as “Very SMART” Technology Consultants. MSI consultants are responsible for selecting and integrating the various building management systems servers and networks. The MSI Will provide options on network design fibre management and requirements and network convergence. They engineer the systems to meet the Stakeholder requirements and assure all the new systems are being deployed securely and efficiently typically on a converged network. 

The MSI needs to be knowledgeable on designs, policy, best practices and the various vendors and manufacture options and capabilities. They need to help educate the Stakeholders and construction teams to ensure the system meets Stakeholders requirements and vision and are typically deeply involved in many areas of the construction and design of a SMART project. 

MSIs must be completely versed on all of the various Operating Systems, Protocols and the network layers. It is an ongoing education, not just for the MSI but for everyone involved. 

Challenges for MSIs

The integration of a smart system is complex and challenging. In order for the integrator to achieve success, there will be a lot of variables. These will include but are not limited to;

  1. Different contractors working on the same project. Differing ideas and systems being developed by different companies can cause many problems. There may be several different contracts involved for one project. 
  • Resistance to new or different systems can cause delays and other issues. If one of the sub-systems requires data from the other, there can be complications if they do not meld well. 
  • Communication Breakdown is often a concern. This can happen between the Stakeholders, MSI and the contractors installing the system. It’s vital for everyone to be focused on the same goal.
  • Bringing in the MSI too late can be confusing and even delay the project. The MSI needs to have a full understanding of all the ins and outs of the project, each person’s role and be fully aware of each of their contracts. 
  • Too many contracts and workers from different areas are often a concern. Everyone may have their own idea of what is supposed to happen and there can be gaps in roles or contracts that are overlooked.  Not uncommon for the MSI to manage all technical and network related vendors to provide a cohesive solution without duplicating infrastructure resources.

The MSI is such an important part of these projects, and all parties involved must understand the role of the MSI for the project to run smoothly and reach the end results. 

Master System Integrator Elevated

While there are standards in place for many aspects of a traditional building project, there are not, as yet standards for all of the SMART systems like BMS, lighting, electronics and network systems. Is the job of the MSI to provide a set of standards or guidelines for vendors and contractors engaged in installing the various SMART systems to follow. The MSI assures that the systems that need to talk to each other can and the ones that don’t can’t. There are various organizations working to standardize Smart building deployments and the various PMS systems and in the future,  this will make SMART projects run far more smoothly.

Some MSIs actually function as technical architects and by elevating the role of the MSI to an architect SMART projects can become more streamlined. It is vital that SMART systems are designed on a converged network infrastructure, typically fibre and that security and access can be achieved without duplicating all the network infrastructure.  In the past these networks were all independently running on separate cabling infrastructure, typically copper and no system interoperability. In today’s SMART projects all of the systems like; lights, air conditioning, security and video surveillance are managed over a single converged infrastructure. By having an MSI focused on the oversight integration the all of these systems, they can provide stakeholders with a single view and control of their entire SMART complex.

Trust is Key

The MSI has the knowledge to put in place the best system possible. By leveraging the expertise of your MSI you can have everyone focused on meeting the vision. 

Consultants that Over Charge and Under Deliver

Are Your Consultants Overcharging and Under Delivering?

Starting a new business is an exciting and challenging time. But, what happens when you start to grow and expand and feel lost? Hiring an expert consultant can provide you with great ideas and insight.

But at what cost? Hiring a consultant for advice and direction can help your company grow, but it can also be a massive expense and inconvenience. It’s important to understand how consultants charge and what they offer for those costs.

Growing Your Business

You started your business to make money. So, regardless of what side you are on, providing a service, a product or helping those who do, the bottom line for everyone is income. What happens when you need help getting to the next level? 

Whether you need a consultant to help navigate a difficult time, advance the company or take it in a new direction, you depend on them for expert advice. Even if you have a large budget for this type of service, you want to get your money’s worth and not be taken advantage of.

Too Many Cooks

If you were hiring someone to paint your kitchen, you wouldn’t expect them to show up with an entire team. One person to pick the color, one to open the can, one to stir the paint. All of a sudden, it becomes apparent they are not interested in your outcome, but only theirs.

Hiring a large team of consultants might sound like a great idea, in that you are receiving more advice for the price. But if they take over your office and start stepping on the toes of you and your employees, it can become a difficult situation.

If your team are becoming upset and even insulted, then work will not get done. People end up feeling under-appreciated and the work and the company suffers. Then, the entire process turns into a waste of time and money.

Get What You Pay For

It’s important to ask about fees your potential consultant will charge. There may be an hourly fee, a retainer fee, perhaps they charge for time and materials, a flat rate or even a fee based on the final outcome. 

Keep in mind, there may also be other costs and it’s important to ask about these, as well. Travel, breaks, food, years of experience and so on. These people became consultants because they learned their skills in the same type of business.

A larger firm is going to require more money because they have more people to pay. But are you actually getting better service? Not likely. The more hands in the pot the more confusing things become. 

Expensive Isn’t Always Best

When you are looking for a consultant, you don’t always need to hire the most expensive. There is only so much knowledge available and all consultants will have access to it. Perhaps it would be worth your while to hire someone who is also starting out. 

They have the skills and their fees will be lower as they are trying to build up their clientele and reputation. It’s a win for both of you, you get expert advice at an affordable fee and they get a client to help.

This can be a great beginning to a long-term business relationship. For a smaller fee, you still receive expert advice and not be overcharged. You won’t be paying for someone to kill time just to rank up their fees.

Those Who Consult

It’s understandable why there are so many consultants hitting the workforce. Getting away from the old 9-5 and the ability to charge what they want. If you are a large firm, then you may benefit more from a larger consulting firm. 

If you are a smaller company or a startup, stick with the same. A newly minted consultant will be more eager to do a good job, won’t charge you an exorbitant feel and they won’t charge you more for something you are not going to get. 

The Bottom Line

If you or your company are going to hire a technical consultant, especially if it is a large complex project be sure you have someone on your team you can trust to vet and manage your consultants. There is too much overcharging and underdelivering going on out there. If you feel you are in that situation you need someone that has enough technical expertise to be able to call BS when consultants are involved. This can work the other way as well, sometimes internal technical teams can drag out simple projects or make simple projects more difficult. If that is the case, you may need to turn to a trusted consultant to call BS on your own people. Remember “If it don’t make money, it don’t make sense”

Mr. Click

CBFA to Launch SMART Network Group LockBoxx

LockBoxx.net – The term “digital environment” encompasses a set of solutions that optimizes the experience of occupants, staff and management through the integration of architecture, engineering and technology. It harnesses Internet of Things (IoT) data and leverages Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology to create an expansive network that can power and share data between various building systems. Instead of looking at each system as an individual element, it looks at all systems as a unified whole — allowing cognitive computing to power people-centric spaces.

Digital Enviroments enable tangible value. Integrated HVAC and lighting controls can cut energy usage by as much as 40%. IoT-based spatial management can save up to 30% in energy usage. And real-time analytics and advanced services offer an inviting and productive digital experience for occupants; numerous studies show that employees across all generations want to work for digitally enabled companies.

Our integrated design and management approach brings the knowledge and expertise needed to help clients create smart digital; buildings, campuses, communities, farms and cities. Working alongside our architects and engineers, our technology experts take an integrated approach to design focused on each client’s digital strategy and its relation to real estate. The result is a fully integrated SMART Digial solution that simplifies building and IoT systems management, reduces operational costs and drives business productivity.

For more information visit www.lockboxx.net or drop us a note in the form below.

CBF Advisors

CBFA provides comprehensive Product Management, Product Marketing and Product Development deliverables using best practices methodologies ensuring our clients have the tools to exceed their launch goals.

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