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Build The Foundation First [Nexus Newsletter #104]

Build The Foundation First [Nexus Newsletter #104]

Hey friends,

There are four weeks left in 2021! For the last six Nexus Newsletters, we’re exploring my top trends, lessons learned, and lightbulb moments of the year.

Here’s where we headed between now and 2022:

  1. “Green” → ESG (and the carbon flywheel)
  2. Last Week: Reporting → Retrofits
  3. Today: “You can’t build the app store before you build the iPhone”
  4. Moving interoperability up the stack and the true value of the Independent Data Layer
  5. Advanced Supervisory Control for small buildings and the emergence of the grid integration platform primer
  6. Look around: workforce issues are everywhere

We’re onto 2021 trend #3:

“I see a lot of people buying apps before they’ve bought the smartphone. (Our current smart building strategy) is really about building up that smartphone foundation.” —Jon Clarke, Dexus, on episode 62 of the Nexus podcast

That’s a fun and provocative quote to get us started, but the true trend I’m seeing is this recurring pattern: The industry is moving towards a horizontal layered approach and realizing the importance of a healthy foundation.

This theme came up again and again on the podcast this year. Besides Jon, here’s a few more examples:

And there were many more!

As an industry, we might disagree on the specifics of how to implement the layers, but the point is that we’re beginning to agree on the big picture.

Let’s take a crack at summarizing it:

  • Horizontal layers (devices, converged network, and data) that enable bi-directional communication with overlay software applications
  • Portfolio level standards (e.g. cybersecurity) determine how each layer is set up
  • Standard operating procedures for qualifying each device, maintaining each layer, and keeping the infrastructure updated
  • A common data ontology

To me, our nerdy differences are interesting, but the most interesting question is what our big picture agreement means for the future.

What if all building owners invested in making sure their Devices, Network, and Data Layers are set up to scalably, securely, and reliably enable any smart building application?

I’d go so far as to say that ALL of the outcomes we’re collectively working towards will be easier.

That doesn’t mean we should halt all progress with deploying new cutting edge applications. But pursuing applications without acknowledging the importance of the infrastructure needs to be an artifact of the past.

What do you think?

—James

P.S. Our Foundations course is perfect for newcomers that are trying to understand this transition from vertical to horizontal architectures. If you’re an individual, sign up to learn more about Cohort 4 here. If you manage a team, hit reply to ask us about our private Foundations workshops for teams.