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Why New Daedalus?

Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Friday
Jul062007

Second Generation Outsourcing

“Work will be done where it makes the most sense” Nandan Nilekani, CEO, Infosys

Today’s so-called enterprise systems for building management are like first generation outsourcing. It seemed like a good idea move the work to where it was the cheapest to do. It was all sourced to one set of developers because it seemed easiest. No one asked what the service metrics really were; no one asked about quality and efficiency. Now, as communications problems mount, the customers are feeling a little queasy about the whole process.

Some respond by in-sourcing. The problem is, there was never a model for system development before we turned over everything to the control companies and their single purpose software. There was no commonly accepted approach to communications between facilities and the rest of the enterprise. Business managers sense there is a lot of value there, but can find no way to unlock it. As Tom Sanzone, CIO of Credit Suisse has said “…cost in and of itself isn’t going to get anyone a competitive advantage.”

In the second generation of outsourcing, smart companies look to more than cost. They look to organizations that can provide a deep bench of talent skilled in a particular domain. Smart companies disaggregate functions and look to by whom and where each function can best be provided. Processes are isolated. Processes are broken into tasks and the tasks reviewed for how much value they add and how much they need to interact with core processes of the enterprise. Each task is assigned to where the most value can be achieved, not merely to where the cost is cheapest.

As building systems start to communicate with the enterprise, we need to look at them in the same light. Some of this happens far from IT. Engineers should design new systems, not low bid contractors. Talent should be transferred from commissioning to design. The ability of systems to communicate with the enterprise in the language of the enterprise must become paramount.

Most companies do not have an in-place team able to effectively manage building system performance. Once clean communication standards are in place, building performance analysis should be sources to organizations that have enough depth to pay attention and enough breadth to do it well.

Whether actual maintenance is performed by in-house staff or by outside service, it should be driven by knowledge, not by schedule and anecdote. On outsourced building performance analysis group is an excellent driver for the work, as well as an auditor for how well the work is done. It the maintenance is outsources, appropriate and term limited access to the building should be managed by clear communications between the requester, the dispatcher, and the building security systems. This can only work of those communications are well defined and formal – in other words, abstract.

When we achieve standard for formal service-oriented analysis and tracking of the services of building maintenance and operations, we will have also achieved standards for proper interaction with the enterprise. This will let building systems move beyond least cost as the sole metric.

Until we do, we will continue to view building systems as we do poorly outsourced help desks: unresponsive, infuriating, and unintelligible.

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