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Episode #24 reaction: Smart Core's potential

October 21, 2020

Happy Thursday!

Welcome to this week’s deep dive exclusively for Nexus Pro members. It’s an honor to have you here. This deep dive is a follow up to my recent podcast conversation with Mike Brooman, CEO of Vanti. I learned a lot from this conversation and want to share my takeaways and the full transcript with you below.

In case you missed it in your inbox, you can find the audio or video here:

Nexus site | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube | Add to other podcast apps

Enjoy!

—James


Outline

  • My reaction, including highlights
  • Full transcript

My reaction

It’s been fun getting to know Mike ever since I heard him present on Memoori’s webinar over the summer. It sounds like many of you have reached out to Mike as well! That’s what Nexus is all about.

I hope the MSIs out there will forgive me, but my main reaction to the episode has less to do with the MSI topic and more to do with Smart Core. I think this episode builds nicely onto Andrew Rodgers’ episode. We’re spending far too much time, as an industry, solving the same problems in different ways and keeping the solutions to ourselves. I’m interested in hearing your reaction to my rant near the end of the episode.

As an example, how many companies out there have written a custom driver for each proprietary protocol out there? How long did each driver take to write? If a new company pops up tomorrow that needs to talk using that protocol, how many of them will write it from scratch? And that’s just one use case at one place in the stack, right? So I’m all for Smart Core and I hope to get involved in it.

Since PassiveLogic’s announcement was last week, it feels like I also need to also point out how much their thesis differs from Smart Core. As Troy said in episode 5 of the podcast, he thinks a proprietary, but innovative platform at this layer of the stack is the answer to democratizing the tech outcomes we need. Of course, just like the overlay vs. built-from-scratch dichotomy, both can and will exist.

My highlights:

  • Mike answers James’ favorite question: complacency, risk aversion (7:08)
  • The smart building adoption curve, and the concept of ‘first followers’ (11:23)
  • ‘Big four’ equivalents in other silos (13:54)
  • The tenant-landlord problem- separate mindsets, separate systems (20:32)
  • Defining ‘master systems integrator’ (26:52)
  • Are MSIs accommodating vendors to continue operating in silos? (33:29)
  • Finding the line between MSI and consultant, commissioning agent (39:58)
  • The ideal holistic data model, and the potential of BIM (48:26)
  • SmartCore: what it is, why RPC is lacking, why bother, interaction with other open source efforts, and how to get involved (1:00:05)

Full transcript

Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!

James Dice: [00:00:00] Hello, friends. Welcome to Nexus, a smart buildings technology podcast for smart humans. I'm your host, James Dice. If we haven't met before, I write a weekly newsletter on the same topic. It's also called Nexus. Each week I share what I've learned, my opinions, and what I'm excited about in the quickly evolving world of intelligent buildings. Readers have called Nexus the best way to stay up to date on the future of this industry without all the marketing fluff. You can check it out and subscribe at nexus.substack.com or click the link in the show notes.

Since starting the Nexus newsletter, many of you have reached out to me wanting to talk shop, and we have. After a few weeks of those wonderful conversations, I realized I needed to record and share them with our growing community. So here we are. The Nexus podcast is born. This is our chance to explore and learn with the brightest in our industry together.

Episode 24 is a conversation with Mike  CEO of vanity and master systems integrator out of the UK. We talked about why buildings are behind and how the problem of closed or proprietary systems extend beyond just HVAC. Then we took a bit of a deep dive into the role of the master systems integrator, which is often misunderstood in our industry.

Finally Mike explained the open source effort vanity is launching called smart SmartCore. I'm very excited about smart core, and can't wait to hear your feedback and see people get involved in this effort. This episode of the podcast is directly funded by listeners like you who have joined the next pro membership community.

You can find info on how to join and support the podcast at  dot com. You'll also find the show notes there and a link to Mike's LinkedIn page. Oh, and by the way, if you take a look at your podcast feed and you're missing some episodes, that's because those episodes are exclusive to members of nexus pro sign up for a pro membership to get your personal podcast feed with access to all of the episodes without further ado, please enjoy nexus podcast, episode 24.

Alright. Hello, Mike. Welcome to the nexus podcast. Thanks for coming on. Can you introduce yourself to the

Mike Brooman: [00:02:11] audience? Thanks so much having me say I might bring it. And I'm CEO at  where I must systems integrator 40 people based in Birmingham, in the UK.

James Dice: [00:02:21] Great. Great. Thanks. so yeah, so let's get started with just your career history in general.

So maybe go from present day backwards. So when did you start banty and then what'd you do before that?

Mike Brooman: [00:02:34] Okay, cool. So, um, I actually didn't start vanity,  my business partner, Raj, uh, or his idea. so whilst he was at uni. Was, uh, going around the country on his bike or I'd landed on his bike, kind of installing audio, visual equipment into venues and that kind of thing we actually met because he was at university in Birmingham.

And that was my first job out of uni actually. So I was a network manager in a secondary school, which was a total, some of fire. Just overnight became SIS admin for 900 users and had never done any of it before. So it was pretty steep learning curve. Uh, good fun. So, yeah, we just really hit it off because we were both very passionate about, people being able to use technology and it being really accessible to them.

So. we got into the world of HIV through a kind of little remote controls that you could put on the walls of classrooms. Say that when teachers move between rooms, they had a, a consistent interface to turn everything on and off and all that kind of thing that it needs to find the remote control or have students steal the batteries and all that kind of stuff.

So, uh, yeah, unfortunately, Chuck to stay in complete his degree, I went off to the world of. it management consultancy. So worked for a company called cap Gemini and worked for the foreign office in the UK for nine months. And then I really wanted to be in infrastructure it's, what I've always been interested in.

And unfortunately I can see a route three with, with cap to make that happen. So I left there, joined Accenture and then worked for the whole bunch of clients all over the world. So I did some quite big pieces of work. With Dell computers. so over in Texas and in Asia Pacific, and then did, all kinds of stuff with people like black free research, emotion, best project ever actually tested, for a week in Israel.

It's one of the only places in the world where the CDMA network coexists with GSM, um, so easily the best thing ever. Although I did get stopped by the security services on the way out, which, uh, It was less fun. Um, and then after that, rod was kind of badgering me to come back and join him. So I was employee number five back in November, 2008.

And, uh, the rest, as they say is history. so I've been through a few iterations, started out as, uh, RTS and then rebranded as van 2011.

James Dice: [00:04:55] Got it. Okay, cool. And, and what is fantasy today? What do you guys do?

Mike Brooman: [00:05:01] Uh, so that is, today's a whole mix of stuff. so, hidden away in the name is audio visual and it.

Well, they, thankfully our marketing company at the time kind of went, we don't think you guys are going to stay and just do this stuff forever. So you have the option. If you want to later on that, you can drop the story in and just go with vantage as a brand. That makes sense. So we still have some, some kind of pure play AVN it clients.

we have a managed services practice that, Runs kind of standard service desk looks off the networks. Um, we did that for, a couple of multinational clients, which is the kids and we've extended that over time to then introduce more and more operational technology into that. So, we really started bringing AVN it together when we did the, the central library in Birmingham, which is the library of Birmingham, as you might expect.

Uh, and, um, We made a bit of a name for ourselves in that industry, because we really started getting into it just as it was becoming kind of really heavily network based. And because we had that good understanding of it, it allowed us to start delivering a lot of Ava rights by Pete solutions and also doing a lot more kind of in software.

And then we started moving into control systems. And then eventually we did our first smart building in 2015. So today, we are still a real, the mix. I think our focus though is now primarily on the built environment. We see a huge opportunity in the space and also a huge skills gap. And, yeah, it's where we're choosing to play.

So I'm looking at. our plans at the moment for the next three to four, we've just developed our first product called , which is kind of smart workplace solution, which is quite fun. So just looking at getting patents sorted and that kind of thing. And then, um, the, the idea is that we'll continue along with the MSI journey, hopefully doing more and more around, systems integration and buildings.

All

James Dice: [00:07:03] right. Cool. Well, we're going to nerd out on some of that stuff. I want to talk to you about the MSI in a second, but first I want to ask you my favorite question, which is, why are buildings like decades behind other technology? And this would be a really unique answer for me. So I'm excited, no pressure, but I just think it gave me.

Mike Brooman: [00:07:21] I'll try my best. Um, so I've obviously listened and watched to a lot of things, the podcast previously. And I think, the thing that is really interesting for me is the number of different lenses. There are on a building as a kind of ecosystem of stuff.

I think broadly it's behind because of the complacency in the industry. I think there's not really been that, um, impetus or motivation to kind of get on boards. I think automotive had it a lot from a kind of safety and. Infotainment perspective, like getting mapping in and, you know, entertainment in cars and all that kind of stuff.

And then now it's moving to kind of Tesla and we're looking at software updated products and that kind of stuff. But yeah, I think, if you look at buildings generally, is it kind of into anything and over their entire life cycle? Because the people who are paying and in fact, Andrew Rogers, like sum this up beautifully for me in terms of that, that disconnect between the pain and the people that are paying.

Yeah. Um, and so I think. It's been really interesting, certainly over the last few years, as things have gone from kind of what is a smart building to, how do I get one? Um, it feels like that kind of, gap is almost being closed in that People are now starting to demand it on the kind of tenant side of things.

And investors are kind of starting to listen to the other end of stuff. But I think also just the cycle yeah. Are involved in buildings. Right. I mean, you're putting a building out of the ground. You're talking about a design period of. Two to three years. And it's only really the very largest kind of portfolio developers that could think about iterating quickly.

Like if you're a developer, that's a kind of smaller, mid size one. You might be looking at doing a building every two to three years. And so unless you're someone that's really out there and looking for new ways of doing stuff, chances are your you're in a world of Do what you've always done and get what we've always got.

And I think that's where the whole pandemic situation, particularly for commercial buildings is really interesting because you now have a, the whole set of property owners and landlords that are really sitting there going. Oh, we used to just kind of collect rent checks every quarter. And now actually we need to start giving people a reason to come back into our buildings and, um, you know, people like Anthony, slumbers probably like, they can talk to this far back than I can, but I think some real tectonic shifts happening at that level.

And I think It is really dawning on some people that actually they are going to have to move into that kind of service space that it isn't anymore. Just about. Okay. We've built a building on a plot of land. Look at the amazing view out the window. Here's how much it costs you every quarter like that just isn't going to fly anymore.

And I think the other exciting thing and something, you know, as I mentioned, even from the super early days of, working together with Raj is those spaces are going to become a lot more about the experience within them. It's not going to be about desk farms anymore. It's going to be about how do we come together and actually collaborate around stuff.

I also think I loved, Uh, knowledge from switch, just analogy kind of 1990s ERP. I mean as someone who used to be an Oracle consultant and sat in that world and just sat, looking at blue screens with yellow fields going, why is this system this bad? Like how do people work with this every day?

I just think there's so much potential to, to make it better. And I think the ultimate reasons it's decades behind is profiting construction to just really late to the party. And I think. They're also hugely risk averse industries and I'm actually. One thing that does spring to mind, I'll never forget the event I went to over in Berlin.

It was previously a sustainability conference that rebranded around prop tech because prop tech was getting kind of cool. And, I met this lady, I won't name the, portfolio now, but 40 billion euros of property under management. And we kind of, we got chatting like, what do you do? All that kind of stuff.

And she was a bit interested in kind of smart buildings and things like. What is what not, how to, and, um, she was like, Ooh, nah, I can't really see this ever taking off. And I was like, well, What do you think would be required to make it happen and had had it genuine answer was regulation. And at that point I was ready to just get on a plane and come home.

I was like, if we have to wait for legislation to achieve this, then we're doomed. Um, but I think the thing that it really stuck with me from that conversation was, Her use of the words first followers and the thing that she was really open about it. And she was just, and as soon as we see someone else do something and it has business advantage and there's returns on it, she was like, we get all over it.

Like, we'll be on it all over it, like a rash until that point. We won't take the risk because actually we don't know if it will work. And I think we've seen that play out. I mean, we've taken people to like our flagship smart building. They've had a great time. They've got it all. They've spoken to clients, you know, got great vibes, all that kind of stuff.

And then we've had a followup call kind of days later and they're like, cool. So can you take us to 10 more? And you're just like, it's just not there yet. And it's almost like you can't kind of show people enough. in terms of the traditional, like technology adoption curve. I think we're still in early adopter and innovator territory.

We're not, certainly not, even early majority yet it's got a way to go. Got it.

James Dice: [00:13:15] Yeah. It's funny. The adoption curve requires people to go first and if people aren't coming first, then that's a big problem. All right. Cool. I want to build on several things you said there. So first of it is, you mentioned Andrew, so Andrew Rogers, for those who didn't listen to that episode, it'll be about five episodes back.

I'm not sure when this will air, but around number 20 or 19 or

Mike Brooman: [00:13:38] something like that.

James Dice: [00:13:39] So Andrew and I talked about openness and we were so talking about the building automation system world. So in that episode, we walked from, you know, basically a sensor to platform and talked about all the different ways that something could be open

Mike Brooman: [00:13:52] or not open

James Dice: [00:13:53] in those cases.

Yeah. So something that you and I have talked about before is that you come from the audio visual world. and there are obviously all these other silos beyond BAS and audio visual. And what you told me, it was like, there's big four or equivalent in these other areas. Right. And.

Mike Brooman: [00:14:10] Same sort of

James Dice: [00:14:11] patterns right.

Of proprietary and sort of way too much hardware, redundant hardware, redundant networks. So can you explain that for people that  come from the BAS world about how you  understand their pain and, uh, you've seen these, same patterns from other sides?

Mike Brooman: [00:14:27] Yeah, sure. So I think, um, well maybe touch on AB first.

So the two big players, up until reasonably recently where, AMX and Crestron. So, they were the kind of goatee, whether it was high end resi or commercial, early on, we were really fortunate AMX backed us, a huge amount from when we were really small. And I think they could see that we were really going to kind of.

push that stuff. we're one of the very integrators that work with, Java libraries directly on their controllers. Most integrators work in a programming language called net links, which is completely proprietary to AMX. So it's fine. Very similar in terms of. If you look back over the heritage of all, all these different systems, they all come from a very similar place.

And it's normally someone at some stage when, Oh, I really wish something could be done. Or I really wish like if I could get some information out of something to show it to people or to react to it or whatever. And, um, It's actually part of AMX is training videos. You have to learn that AMX was founded because the guy who, actually built some of the first control systems was kind of using his garage door opener and he wanted to automate some stuff around it.

And then future multimillion. Build a business kind of grew from that. Like it's absolutely insane. But I think if you look at the pattern across pretty much every industry they've all been through it. Like even things like CCTV, where we used to,  put lashings of co-ax cable, three buildings to plug a camera into an MBR and a route has now all come on to IP networks because.

It's just a no brainer. Like there's so many well-developed standards that exist in it. And the reality is that it, we, as an industry just dwarfs, you know, whether it's BAS, whether it's Avi, whether it's easy access, whatever you like is food is of magnitude larger. And also has a lot of well-established patterns of.

How to plug things together, whether that's, physically using structured cabling or if it's software patterns in terms of, how things interact with each other. So I really do feel the pain and I think it was kind of astonishing for us that when we started looking outside of, of AAV that.

Actually all of these other industries, we're in pretty much exactly the same state. And I think also the other interesting thing. Yeah. The demographic of people here in the us, these industries is, predominantly white, predominantly male, and predominantly getting older. It is the, is the thing. And actually, yeah, if you look around and we have of events in the UK, like the burden controls industry association, we turned up to one of their events, I think for the first time, two or three years ago, we were lucky to be taken on bypass.

And, um, yeah, we just kind of sat in the room. We were like, we are literally the youngest people in here. Yeah. And I'm yeah, I'm still 38.  but there were very few, like, you can count them on one hand, the people who were not in the kind of senior years of 50 sixties and about to retire. So, yeah, I think there is this, and we've talked about it previously in terms of this coming together, you know, that the first stage is everything gets onto the same physical media.

And I think we're kind of at that point now, you know, most fear systems will plug into a network. CCTV access control. Yeah, pretty much everything that goes into building now uses structured cabling. The bit that we're missing now is that convergence around the network infrastructure. So the active equipment, the server infrastructure, and just trying to get away from.

System had ends you know, PCs that are bought from Dell PC world in the UK. And then they're just kind of chucked in the back of a server rack. And I think that was the other amazing thing. When we started getting more into the buildings side of this was we would walk into like really quite prestigious buildings.

And you'd go into this dark back room where  facilities management lived. And you talked about XP workstations, just kind of sat there with you know, the nice Hill background on and you just kind of looking at it from an it perspective, being like nothing should have been, been like five years ago.

it's probably the unsecure, like there's new patches coming out for it. this is not okay. Uh, and then I think. well, we could get into a whole world of good backup techniques and all that kind of stuff. We've been involved in projects where no one took a backup of the building management system.

And so three months of changes as part of commissioning were just lost. you know, you've got people, you stood that guy. Oh, it didn't die. It needed to back up. And in it terms, I mean, that would just be kind of. Failure of what I want. Yeah. But it's, a, different, perspective. And I think it's where we still need all of the specialists skill.

We just also, I need it to be network aware and software enabled. I think that's the, the kind of next, next part of the journey.

James Dice: [00:19:40] Got it. Cool. Well, I think people will be happy to hear that, that their experiences are mirrored elsewhere. So

Mike Brooman: [00:19:46] that's great. Uh,

James Dice: [00:19:47] I also wanted to follow up on something you said about Andrew and that conversation as well.

The sort of, I think what Andrew called it was the consumer pain distance. So we don't have feedback from the people that are using the technology when we make our technology choices. And that's one of the reasons why the industry is behind. So I want to talk to you about your experiences around this, around, um, what I'm seeing on some of my projects that I'm working on right now, where there's this disconnect between tenants and landlords.

Right.

Mike Brooman: [00:20:15] And what I'm seeing

James Dice: [00:20:17] is that the landlords right now are kind of feeding into this disconnect because they're like, On this one project, it's a marquee office building in New York city, huge project. And they don't really care about connecting to the tent systems whatsoever. And I want to hear what you think, cause you told me, you know, space utilization and better in building experiences for occupants.

Like these things are all intertwined with. Better management information for the building owner and improve, you know, all this stuff is intertwined, especially between the tenant and the landlord.

Mike Brooman: [00:20:51] So.

James Dice: [00:20:52] I want to know like how you're seeing all of these things come together when you have these separate mindset, separate systems, and these office buildings.

Mike Brooman: [00:21:01] Uh, yeah. So I think, I mean the short answer is we're not. And I think we've been involved with, yeah, even kind of big four accountancy firms. Who've got this whole  smart workplace initiative on the go and they're taking hundreds of thousands of square feet in prime, real estate and their smart team.

Uh, absolutely livid because their property team has signed into this lease. And no one had asked the question about, could they connect to these systems? And they arranged a meeting with the landlord as a followup, like no brand new tenants coming into the building and said, yeah, we've got this workplace app.

We use it to control our space, but actually we really want to be able to interface with kind of base-build systems. And I think they had, HVAC and lighting in as part of that kind of what we would call the fits out. I don't know if that's similar to an analogy in the U S and um, the landlord just turned around and went, Nope.

And they were literally, I mean, they were taking, I think it was about 800, a thousand square feet of space. So yeah, this is like it's big money, but because they'd signed on the dotted line and because they saw, or it's just too much of an issue and it was deemed a security risk. It just wasn't happening.

And so I think well, this goes back to everything that we were saying earlier around kind of the value that landlords need to provide now. And I think, That for me is a real case in point where that big four accountancy firm will now never turn up to a building again, without having start question first.

And I would imagine they will be writing those terms into their heads , you know, before they sign a lease. And that's where I think we are pleasing that kind of demand cycle that we mentioned, but it takes a long time. Right? It's this, Very protracted cycle of things. It's, loads of kind of fragmentation around who owns what there's lots of kind of pension funds the back, this stuff.

There's private developers. There's no real kind of, well, that's not fair actually. Up until recently there's been no real kind of coming together with those kinds of entities to look at this stuff. But actually I think, you know, Widescore are doing a great job around this in terms of moving from just looking at connectivity and kind of rubber stamping that into actually now starting to look at, smart systems.

And I think that will start to pay dividends in that it's raising a lot of awareness now for landlords to actually people do want to connect into those systems. Uh, but I think the other thing that we see is, from a baseball perspective, and again, this goes back to all those kinds of different lenses on the building.

Why would landlords care? Because from their use cases that they have and how they want to operate a building. Yeah, it's, more hassle to allow someone else to be connecting into it. And you know, why would they, their focus is all about how do we get data out? How do we make sure that the building is efficient?

And also, how do we make sure that we're recharging everything that tenants are consuming, whether that's, you know, water or electricity or, or whatever. So you, I think. Yeah, it's it's coming. And I think we're certainly starting to see early specifications that talk about offering those services from landlords to tenants, but then also the implementation of how that happens.

There are some kind of reasonably worrying in gaps around things like securing tenants, plugging into a building and even some ideas that will go out via the cloud, which from our perspective, it's even in looking at user experiences and kind of trying to keep latency low as far as we possibly can. not just, it doesn't really sit like, you know, if you're a tenant in a building you want to be talking to the building within the building, you don't want to be kind of going out to your cloud to go to their cloud.

Then come back into the building that you were already in. Like, it just. It doesn't make any sense, right? Yeah. I think it's coming, but we just need to wait for the glacial pace. Right? All the technologies here, we can do it all tomorrow. It's just, it needs the people with the checkbooks to start signing the checks and genuinely, I think, you know, if there are people like that, listening, there are now people out in the market who are looking for this stuff and actually.

It shouldn't be a huge premium on service charge in my opinion, because it really doesn't require that much investment. But actually I think there probably is a premium there to, to tenants who do want to really enable their spaces for experience and being able to exchange data with landlords and real time.

James Dice: [00:25:39] Yeah, I think, I think this is a missing piece of the COVID conversation right now. So people are talking about, you know, I want space analytics, I want occupancy analytics, but what they're not talking about, and this kind of ties back to, you know, the course that we're sort of collaborating on right now.

And, Your colleagues are taking part in, but like we're not talking about, okay, what are the use cases? And acknowledging that those use cases cross the tenant boundary. They cross the tenant and the building system boundary a lot and they crossed the system boundary as well. So lighting HVAC, you know, Access control, whatever they're crossing these boundaries that historically we haven't really figured out a good way to cross.

I feel like that whole conversation is missing. I feel like there's like drawer and Anthony, like, you're talking about how, they're saying the office needs to evolve and all the landlords is saying let's evolve. Like we're going to, you know, we're going to motivate our, tenants back into the building.

But what we're not saying is like

Mike Brooman: [00:26:35] behind the scenes

James Dice: [00:26:36] we have. You know, 20 years of technology progress to make up for really quickly to make that happen

Mike Brooman: [00:26:42] a hundred percent. I think that's

James Dice: [00:26:44] missing anyway. We're not going to solve it here today. It's just something I'm seeing on a lot of my projects right now.

Mike Brooman: [00:26:50] So I agree.

James Dice: [00:26:51] Anyway. Talk about

Mike Brooman: [00:26:53] maybe something

James Dice: [00:26:54] that could solve that problem. The masters systems integrator. So you guys at fancy are

Mike Brooman: [00:27:01] a master

James Dice: [00:27:01] systems integrator. I think this is a very. perhaps misunderstood term in our marketplace. it's used worldwide. It's used in the U S I want to talk about  like, what is the actual definition of a master systems integrator to you guys?

Mike Brooman: [00:27:16] Okay. So, A couple of bits on this. and I have sat on stages things like integrated systems, Europe and the smart learning conference. I think it's, it's really important to get out. This is a self proclaimed. Master systems integrator, right? So there's no we've been accredited.

There's a course that we've been on.  the prefect pudding, right? So we can take you to a bunch of sites. We can show you the integration work. We can introduce you to our software developers and the rest of the team that bring all this together. And I think it's really important. We acknowledge that.

I also think master part gets misunderstood as well in terms of, in fact, the best example I have of this. Is a big four controls company that shall remain nameless, that we ended up in a bit of a competitive situation with. And, the conversation turned to them becoming the master systems integrator and the conversation then also went along the lines of them.

We need to work out who the slaves are now. That isn't the way that we look at master in Masa systems integration at all. So for us, it is very much around kind of master craftspeople in terms of people who have got really good at their trade and really good at their craft. And actually it's an acknowledgement that they have a breadth and depth of experience.

It is applicable to a certain situation. Okay. I have to clear

James Dice: [00:28:40] up that misconception Right.

Mike Brooman: [00:28:42] Well, with the, amount we're trying to kind of work out master from things like, you know, code repositories and all that kind of stuff. Cause of all of, recent events. yeah, I think important that we do get away from that as quickly as we possibly can.

And also very open to any of the labels that we could use to label ourselves. But I did find a definition, cause. I saw this came up on, LinkedIn and Navigant put this out,  two years ago. And I think it is still fully applicable. Say they define it as a service provider that demonstrates the main experience in it systems and networking, building automation and controls, application, software analytics, and support services.

And then they go onsite say MSM, I can create a program across system integration with complete interoperability. And that is what we do. So we are frequently described in our projects as the glue that binds everything together. the recent, large fits out that we did for a client in London. we have some absolutely amazing feedback from them to the extent that they were just like, we don't think we could have done this project without you.

You literally went around and worked with every single one of our subcontractors to help them understand what you needed to get from the technology. And then you pulled out of the bag and made it all work together. And so. I think that for me all stems, it makes an awful lot of sense, but I think it's not just the technical element of MSI.

That's important. It is also the people element. And I think we spend a good amount of our time, certainly early on in projects, really trying to work out where people are at on the technical understanding side of things, and then really supporting them if we need, in terms of, you know, whether it's getting devices onto the network, helping them understand the sub-net mosques, helping them understand what a reader is, understanding why they should change their default passwords, you know, all of those kinds of things.

And then. If they've got all of that stuff in the bag, it's then potentially into, you know, why we need naming schemers within those systems, because actually it allows us to report the data better. And I think a lot of our, building user experience work, we also use with other subcontractors to really um, bring the experience to life.

So, you know, sometimes if you're a system provider light and  access control, You might not be thinking you are this integral part of the overall building experience and what that journey is from sidewalk up to, up to your desk. But actually you are the first touch point that most people will experience Right? Yeah. First impressions too. Yeah, exactly. And if that doesn't work properly or it's unreliable or whatever, then actually, you're almost on a bit of a downer before you've even reached the lift. So I think there's a lot around, being really integral with people. There's a lot around difficult conversations for sure.

there's also a huge amount around learning and I think that's, it's one of the things that we always look for in, our hires is. Anyone who turns up to vanity and says, they've got some kind of home lab that basically through the door straight away, because we know that they're playing with technology in their own time and they do have that kind of learning attitude.

We tend to shy away from heavily kind of certified people. Hmm. so yeah, we're, we're looking for people with kind of. Grit and determination that, you know, if they get a big, hairy problem, they're going to go at it and keep going at it until they either resolve it or they can come up with some way of, of working around it.

And because of the breadth of technology that we experience, that's also super important. Like we often talk about people needing to learn in minutes and hours, not days and weeks. Because it can be that we're in the middle of a job and suddenly the client will announce that they've bought some IOT solution that suddenly we need to welcome magic to bring into the overall journey or experience.

And then it's about, you know, into data sheet, contacting vendors, trying to understand how we can integrate with them, that kind of stuff. And you can't do that if you're not willing to Almost roll with kind of what's going on a little bit. And I think that's why there are large systems integrators out there.

but they tend to be quite specialized. And I think that's the, the kind of tipping point really is it's that agility and ability to, to move with things and bring in what's new, not rely on. Having process, strict ways of working and only doing stuff in a way that we've done it before. because that, that just, well, if you know, construction, if you're in a construction program, the deadline never moves.

So it's about how do we make it work within the time we have left. Got it.

James Dice: [00:33:25] There's so much. I want to ask you about here. Where should we take this? I think what I want to do is actually just respond like with a little bit of a rant first. So you mentioned grit and determination and sort of like being the glue. And feel like that is so sorely needed on a construction project or any sort of technology project. But I also feel like it's accommodating all of those siloed subcontractors, as you've mentioned them to just keep on doing what they've been doing, because you know, the MSI is going to figure it out and

Mike Brooman: [00:33:56] there's part of me.

That's just like, that's not

James Dice: [00:33:58] how it's supposed to be. And how would you respond to that rent, I guess, to begin with?

Mike Brooman: [00:34:04] yeah, I, I think, uh, I agree to an extent, I think.

James Dice: [00:34:09] this is more of like a philosophical question. I have more practical ones that are,  that are coming up next, but

Mike Brooman: [00:34:15] lots of things with me.

So it's not those, um, because those people are also integral. Right. And I think they also tend to be specialized. So the example I always use around this is lighting. Okay. So as an MSI, we are not going to design you, amazing looking lighting scenes. We are not going to get into, you know, what color temperatures should go in which spaces and all this kind of thing, because I think.

We have to acknowledge that whilst it would be wonderful, we'll know everything and be able to do absolutely everything. I think the thing that we acknowledge is,  kind of what's the, boundary and the boundary for us is around that integration that they try and control it. Isn't about replacing the specialism.

Hmm. And, and that specialism is also critical, right. Because there's. Yeah, access control cards. There's a hundred different varieties and getting the compatibility right. And all that kind of stuff. We can research that and doing that within a project, like yeah, sure. But does that make us an access control, especially it's like, absolutely not.

Totally. And so I think it's about appreciating. As well as all those different lenses that we talk about kind of on that building, it's also, moving to a position of actually collaborating between all of these different people. And think we're going to succeed lots more a kind of coopertition if that makes sense, like, you know, there are some jobs where we may compete against people that actually want another job we'll be working alongside or, or delivering something.

And I think that's where, again, from a philosophical perspective, We don't believe that one vendor should do it all. And I think we see single vendors try and do absolutely everything and claim they do everything. But also I think from my and experience, yeah. Even back in Oracle days, Oracle went on a mad spending spree to buy all these different companies like PeopleSoft and all that kind of stuff.

And it took them years to properly integrate that into the rest of their solution so that it actually became Oracle HR. And I'm still not sure they've even achieved it honest, but, um, I think that's where. In buildings and because of construction and the way that that works and the size and scale of things, you know, yeah.

You could get to a stage and we've talked about it. You know, we've talked about the potential that in years to come, you will get something called like a main technology contractor. And actually it would be someone going like technology. Absolutely paying, just take the whole lot away from me, but. Kind of having looked at that we were then like, well, you know, it's almost like how far down the rabbit hole do you go?

Because, you know, once you start getting into color temperatures and whether it's, you know, there's five version two or my fair, or, you know, whether you want to have people visible at 10 feet or a hundred feet on CCTV, that is a specialism, those skills are required. It's just those people don't need to bring.

Networks, which is S servers and you know how do we kind of address those? Those boundaries, which will be gray, which will be blurry, you know, even between projects, it might be, or we integrate all the way down because of a particular use case in, one project. But actually it's pretty light touch in another.

Hmm. And so I think there is a, um, there's always a drive towards simplicity and, you know, One back to Pat one throat to choke, like, however you want to describe it. And the reason we'll say that, kind of real desire within construction, that everything is delineated into like these box contracts that, you know, you can point at someone and be like, it's their fault.

And that's where it does get difficult. And even, you know, our lawyers have sat us down and gone. You guys should really have kind of tri-party agreements here. Like, you know, you do so much work for a client. But actually you're working through a main contractor. If they have a falling out like you're in quite serious trouble because legally you're obliged to the main contractor, not to the end user, but the problem is because we tend to then stay with the end user to look after things.

And the main contract is going to disappear into the sunset on to, on to the next project. Yeah. It's, tough at times. And also, you know, Some construction sites are not nice places. Um, it can be really difficult work environments and especially where, you know, you are coming in as, this kind of master role and kind of going well, actually, you know, can we do this a bit differently or could we do this in this way?

It can put people's noses out of joint and. I think people are starting to get a better handle on it. And honestly, conversations I've been having more recently with people in Dmanisi Spain and also in the main contractor space. I think our growing in confidence to kind of go, actually, we don't really know about this stuff.

And then it just becomes so much easier to just have a really straightforward conversation that says, well, that's cool. Cause I also don't know anything about putting poles in the ground or building a steel structure or anything else. Like we're all here to do our part. And in the same way that I might need to ask you how I can run cable through the building or whatever, it would be great.

If you could come to me and go, actually, I don't know how to do this. Can you explain it to me? And then we can just sit down and have a really Straightforward, plain talking conversation.

James Dice: [00:39:56] Cool. And so I think what I'm hearing is that like the MSI it's not a. Tell me what to do. Tell him what my scope of work is.

Tell me where to go, what to be. It's more of a, a leader. Like you're pulling people together, pulling people along. It's a leadership role. You're in a consultation, basically. You're, you're a consultant in a way. and so w is that how you describe it? It's like a consultancy. And are you a contractor or are you just a con like talk to me about like business models?

Mike Brooman: [00:40:24] Yeah. So people get really upset when we call ourselves consultants. Um, which, uh, I think, you know, it's fair. I think the other thing is we've been really open to working with consultants and we do. And in fact, actually, even today, um, huge global consultancy has approached us, for a 1.8 million square foot building that is putting out a master systems integrator back.

And they've approached us because they've gone. Actually we can fulfill all of the project management stuff, all of the really detailed stuff they want doing around them. All of the lead well and Brianne certification stuff. We've got specialists on staff to do that. What we don't have is the ability to technically architect it and to do all that system validation and make stuff work together.

And that is like the perfect engagement for us, because it allows us to bring our technical scale, which is what we're social to have in the industry. But it means we're not trying to be, you know, consultants in. How buildings go together and all the standards and how they work and everything else. And I mean, we've had some pretty direct exchanges with consultants who have come to us and said, you know, if we ever find out you're doing consultancy, you'll never appear on our tender lists again for, being an integrator on our projects.

And you know, We're also not the people to be, sat around writing. Yeah. I mean, sometimes facts that come out like, you know, reams of paper of just like pages and pages of, these are the things that are gonna happen. And it's not that we're not interested in that detail. It's important.

it's just, it's not where we folk CoStar our kind of business. So We love performance specifications when they're written as performance specs. I think we genuinely really struggle when we get a very technically detailed spec through, because the reaction is to then go, Oh, okay. But, you know, What about if we did this?

And so it can become quite confrontational. Whereas, we've always said kind of thing. One of the building user experience design, the user story, mapping the user journeys, all that kind of stuff. Like they were probably there digitally yeah. Agencies out there that are infinitely better than us at that we could work with consultants and help them understand.

Why do we take that approach? Mostly because it really age is stakeholders, particularly, developers and then whoever else, if they can really graphically say. What they're going to get at the end, they really engage in it. Right. And then I, Oh, well, you know, could it do this or could we make this happen?

And then, I mean, just like you're going through on the course, it's all about building that set of requirements and then fitting the technology to it. Not that we need to start with, you know, Page is about, each lb MQTT and it shall be Jason and all this kind of stuff, because why, if that doesn't fit the use cases where it doesn't fit, how the space is going to be used, like why are we being that prescriptive about it?

So, yeah, we, we tread really carefully around consultancy and I think the other thing is we're seeing this kind of emergence of, master systems architect and master systems designer. I mean, in my opinion, they're just terms that aren't required, like consultants need to skill up on this stuff and then they just need to keep doing what they're great at.

I think there are some more tools they can put in their toolkit. I think we're open to helping people do that because as far as we're concerned, the more people that can, develop experiences and describe them to clients. Well, actually that engaging them. And we've been on projects where you turn around to the client, you like, so, um, have you read the specification?

And then I'm like, no, why would I read a 200 page technical document? And then you like, so do you know what you're getting? And they were like, Oh no, you, but you know, we just trust the consultants are going to give us what we need. And then you can get to the end of some projects and clients will stand there and be like, what on earth is this this isn't what we talked about or what we asked for.

And then you're in this really awkward position of, but it's what they told us to build. And so I think, again, this comes back to that kind of, coopertition the collaboration, like the lines are blurry and I think particularly around. Where we pick up and consultant, this would stop. I mean, typically consultants are not interested being in a construction site, making tech work together.

I think they would, all of them would sit there and go, you know, not for us. Yeah. but I think The more overlap there is the more the end result can be, because I mean, there's, there's so much context in, design meetings and decisions that get taken and, understanding that you just can't transfer even in a 200 page document.

Like you'll never get that kind of stuff across to people. So, yeah, it's, it's blurry, but we are 100% not being traditional consultants. No, you're a consultative contractor

James Dice: [00:45:37] and you come in after the design firm. Well, you come in, you would love to overlap with the design firm. before they're done producing this fact, maybe you have some influence on it, but you're not trying to get into that role as what I'm, what I'm

Mike Brooman: [00:45:51] hearing.

Yeah, I think that's it. That's a great description. And probably one I might start with. Um, thanks. but so yeah, I think we don't want to, we certainly don't want to eat their lunch, but it is about providing that technical specialism. And also because this market is moving so quickly and we are really doing things that are different on the ground.

We want to feed that back into that cycle as quickly as possible because well, If we take it to a super macro level, well, there's literally on fire and there are not enough people trying to make buildings more efficient right now. So either we all start working together or basically we're screwed.

James Dice: [00:46:31] Yeah, totally agree. And I try to go on a run this morning and, uh,

Mike Brooman: [00:46:35] my neighborhood's

James Dice: [00:46:36] full smoke, so that's awesome. Um, Oh yeah. so I think I'm also hearing is that you guys are kind of side by side with the commissioning agent as well. So ideally most. Projects would have some sort of commissioning agent that, is responsible for controls and mechanical and that type of, nerdiness, like making those systems work and you guys are basically saying  we'll handle the, the OT, it like making the technology work.

Uh, is that a good way to understand

Mike Brooman: [00:47:04] it? Yeah, that's fair to say. And I think the, um, checking part is quite difficult at the moment. And again, I haven't appreciated. Kind of BMS as we'd refer to it. He'll be honest with you guys in that world, that there was even that role. And I understand that on quite a bit, it's common for the people who are actually installing it to kind of then go like hands off.

And it literally gets passed to commissioning people that come in and do it. And I don't understand all the reasons for that, but it sounds like it wasn't in a good place and that makes it in a better place. So, Yeah, I guess, I mean, in terms of working alongside those people, like yeah. But from our perspective, as soon as we can get a kind of integration report out of another system, that's really when we pick up.

So as long as everything's been commissioned correctly and it's all labeled right. when not looking well, it goes back to that, especially I'm saying, you know, in terms of thermal loads in rooms and time that we should allow for kind of ramp up and cool down and all that kind of thing, it's just, it's not our world.

And, we need those specialists to understand that because if they're not there, can't pick it up. We can't do that word. Got it. Um, it's more collaboration and it is working alongside them and just doing the right things.

James Dice: [00:48:25] So, okay. So this, next question might be a little bit of a transition into our next topic.

Um,  so you're talking about holistic thinking around the user experience and all the systems talking to each other, but I feel like what's still missing. And this is where I think a lot of people in this audience know that this hole is there, which is like this, holistic data model.

But now that we've connected all these systems together. So you mentioned the integration, like you need some sort of integration report. Well, Well, I think is missing. There is that, you know, this VAV box over here is in this room and that served by this sliding panel. And, you know, it's this tenant and all of those things are all connected.

Yes. All the data's flowing and whatever, but where does the holistic data model sit that connects all of these databases and all of this communication together in your mind?

Mike Brooman: [00:49:17] In my mind, in my mind, that's the $64 million question, I think. So this is where there's a lot of complexity. Right.

And I think this is also, a really natural thing with how buildings go together and also how they're used. So the

James Dice: [00:49:36] problem,

Mike Brooman: [00:49:38] right? Yeah, I think so. No, I think, it's also. I mean, honestly, I think it's unrealistic to think that we will solve a complete common data model from, you know, spade going in the ground  systems going into a building and then, you know, moving into operation.

And I'll give you the example as to why. So, Let's say we're on some wonderful project. It's been fully designed in BIM. Everyone's working in 3d footy, federated model, live collaboration around it all gets  every space in that model will have an architectural name and that architectural name will normally be something that's about the sequence of the spaces.

So it will be room one room to room three and they normally use. That's a referencing the, that, but it's that kind of order. So, you know, however that works and normally references floors and that kind of thing. If we then look forwards, I mean, and they can go through lots of it. Yeah. Right. And we've been on projects where you can have four different names for the same thing, physical space.

And then by the time you have a tenant, maybe then the tenant wants to call that meeting rooms after Greek gods or whatever. And suddenly, you know, what was our one dot 14 down here? It's now called Zeus. you know, there's no connection between those, but there's also zero way that the architect would have gone would be great.

James Dice: [00:51:04] exactly.

Mike Brooman: [00:51:06] And so I think what we need to move towards, and this is part of the, problems that we're trying to solve is we need to allow for those references to exist in those multiple ways and make the connections between them now. Databases have been doing this for a long time with look-ups and that kind of thing.

But think it's, the ability to make that clear and the ability to expose things to people. So. And this is thinking quite far forward now, but wouldn't it be amazing if as a tenant moved in, they got some kind of questionnaire going, okay, what are you? And actually that then all got fed back through.

So yeah, if there was someone from FM. They could go, Oh, you mean all one 14, but you call it Zeus. And so I think we need to get into this space of, acknowledging the complexity. I don't know, just kind of embracing it and really getting our arms around it because it doesn't feel like we can get rid of it.

And I think this whole kind of  there has to be one thing that represents the building. You know, could we get them to a stage where operationally, it also has those names in? Well, yeah, probably, but actually them as a technology also isn't there yet. We still, you know, when we work on projects at the moment, it's very common that we submit our changes in bed to someone who then goes away and works for a week and comes back with a federated model and a class report.

So. we are not at the stage yet where this model is existing, right from the beginning of the project. And then it gets more and more difficult, which means it gets more and more expensive, which means less and less people want to do it as we move through the project. And so you get that kind of natural disconnect that happens.

But it's about how can we use either ontologies in terms of a, you know, brick haystack or whatever else to, properly describe this stuff. But what we'll say then how can we augment them? Because it might be the developers. Oh, well, the, operating company of the building. Really? What do you use haystack and break?

You might have then a tenant who moves in with their own facilities management. They've never heard of haystack and break and they want to go and call everything by something different. And so it has to be about this acknowledgement that different people need different stuff. And then how do we all move forward on that to kind of go like, and this is how it all looks.

So, it's also, complicated by the fact that we have a bunch of stuff that lives on site. And now we're also digital twinning. And so you then have two copies of exactly the same problem, one virtual and one physical. so yeah, I think, I mean, architects get there first, right?

So I think it makes sense to use that as the kind of base naming schema. but we have to acknowledge that those scheme has changed and also we could get to a point where. Buildings get bought and sold. Right? There are people that these like cars, there's assets, like they'll buy one, they'll sell one.

And actually, if someone else moves in and they on an a, I use Roman numerals rather than numbers to name their floors, the building should be able to respond to that. it shouldn't be locked into, you know, what an architect decided they dock 50 or 60 or a hundred years later or whatever it might be.

James Dice: [00:54:32] Well, let's use that as an example. So say building gets bought this conference room over here was named Zeus. now, I'm buying it and I want to name it after, you know, major league baseball teams or for in your case, uh, soccer teams in the UK.

so what's the state of the art today?

So like on a state of the art project, if that transaction happens, what I would want to happen, I think is that. Automatically when I change it to the same. And those Cardinals are arsenal. My favorite team that then repopulates all of the systems in the building and everyone now knows the truth, right?

So like what's the state of the art. And how does that actually work today?

Mike Brooman: [00:55:08] This is not just about

James Dice: [00:55:11] architectural names of rooms, right? This is about every aspect

Mike Brooman: [00:55:14] of

James Dice: [00:55:15] how these systems fit together.

Mike Brooman: [00:55:18] Yeah, I'll, I'll try not to Vegas too much on the, uh, on the daily. so genuinely, as far as I'm concerned right now in every project that we've ever been in the state of the art is if you're lucky, a cap drawn floor plan.

and someone will kind of submit that to the landlord as here's what's happened. it is not computerized and it is, as far as I'm aware, does not often bridge that kind of landlord tenant boundary. maybe a good reason to say, well, does it need to, because actually from a landlord perspective, you're going tenant.

That's your space. Hmm.

James Dice: [00:55:53] yeah, but I got to go, I got to go to the lighting control system, change them. And there, I got to go to the BAS changed the name in there. I got to go to the, like you said, the analytics overlay in the cloud. I gotta change the name in there. I got to go to my digital twin company and I got to change the name in there.

I got to go to the access control or the elevator, or

Mike Brooman: [00:56:11] I gotta go to all these

James Dice: [00:56:12] systems and I got 'em now change the name to arsenal. From zoos.

Mike Brooman: [00:56:16] Yeah. That's what, that's what I'm talking about with

James Dice: [00:56:19] the data model. Right? So

Mike Brooman: [00:56:20] in

James Dice: [00:56:20] my mind, we have to have some sort of like centralized system. That's keeping track of the fact that it was called Zeus and now it's called arsenal.

And what you're saying is like, we need somebody to translate like a Dakota ring that translates all of these data models into one common. I got this for everybody type of model.

Mike Brooman: [00:56:40] Yeah, I think, with the additional added complexity. So, I mean, let's take your example of a tenant floor, right? we could go five, 10 years with the same tenant and Z.

The next tenant could come in and not only want to change these to your major league baseball team Cardinals. But also then take the partition out between Zeeshan on the amount of Greek gods. so you're then changing the space can figuration. And I think that's where, we see the stage that we should get to is kind of buildings and software.

And I think well, in my opinion, at an off the top of my head right now, late in the evening in the UK, the best shot at that is Ben. Because it is designed to model this physical spaces and hold this information within the asset and the ability with it in BIM to also essentially check out a space.

So you can literally go, right. I'm going to take this whole floor out. I do my out and put all the services in it. And then I'm going to slot it back into your model. That already exists in that technology. Right. It's just, we don't do it at the moment. And we also don't host them models as kind of living things.

And so you'll quite often find that on the handover project from the main contractor, or they may have all been specified as, you know, must be BIM and all that kind of stuff is very rarely then. you used actively in, operation, it's getting better, but it's also often handed over is here's your BIM file.

It's not, Oh, it's on this side and you need to move it to yours so you can continue to hosting of it. And I think we're also seeing this in terms of, yeah, they've um, even the, kind of devices that are going into buildings. One of the roles that's being kind of pushed onto us is maintaining this inventory of.

All of the equipment that's going into the building and that was down. So, you know, Mac addresses, serial numbers, what the devices are, who makes them all that kind of stuff, which is fine, but it's also a completely separate dataset to the model and everything else that goes on. So yeah, I think it's going to be a real kind of slow iterative slog through it, but Yeah. I mean, in my opinion, the whole idea of building information modeling is that that's what we do. We model the information and we make it about the space. And if we could ever get to it, the point of being able to,  update live information into a BIM model so that owners facilities, managers could move around it and actually see those venues in real time.

There's a lot of conceptual stuff out there. I'm sure there's some people that have done it, but. Is it widely adopted and do people know it even exists? I would say not at the moment. I

James Dice: [00:59:31] think there's a few digital twin companies out there that would like to say that they have this solved. and I think it's definitely one of the value propositions of the digital twin, to sort of, I call it static data, keep all that static data.

Just extremely well up to date and organized and contextually integrated with all the other data in the building.

Mike Brooman: [00:59:49] A hundred percent

James Dice: [00:59:50] fascinating. Alright. let's move on to our final, topic here. So

Mike Brooman: [00:59:54] I want to talk about smart

James Dice: [00:59:56] core.

Mike Brooman: [00:59:56] so you mentioned,

James Dice: [00:59:57] you liked to recruit people for vanity that likes to solve big, hairy problems.

And I think that this is one of those big hearing problems. So. What is smart core. Let's just start there. can you just describe it to us?

Mike Brooman: [01:00:10] Sure. So smart core is a distributed building operating system. And what we mean by that is it works a lot, like kind of macro S a windows in that it provides a layer on which you can then run other applications to interact with the rest of the building.

And. Honestly, I think it has not only been through multiple iterations since it was a kind of twinkle in our eye about four years ago. but Oh, so it really changed in scope as well. So we originally started looking at being able to go all the way from kind of that field or area controller level through supervisory, and then also out to kind of analytics and cloud.

But I think. One of the things that, we've really, we looked at a lot, certainly in the last, probably 12, 18 months since we did the, full rewrite can maybe touch on that in a minute. it just didn't make any sense for us to be trying to pursue things that actually lots of SAS companies and are pursuing in terms of yeah.

running portfolios at that kind of. A higher level outside of the building, then the, actually the space that we were really operating in was that experiential within the four walls. So we've really kind of condensed that right down now. And also we're, well, in some talks with, and are interested in further conversations with anyone who is at that the SAS layer, because at the moment.

It seems every single one of them is solving the same set of problems, which is trying to develop drivers for all these years, connecting with

James Dice: [01:01:49] systems that are at the edge.

Mike Brooman: [01:01:51] Yeah, exactly. And so. Oh, kind of goal is to get to a set of tools and technologies and patterns that we will ultimately release open source to the world under the creative commons license that allow people to pick those up and integrate technology through construction and fit out programs to then deliver something that ultimately allows someone with a SAS program to come and plug it comes in via an API.

Now. In terms of that.

James Dice: [01:02:24] And would that solve the problem we were just talking about for that SAS company? So I changed my conference room name and they're still plugged into the API. And now the API just changes when you make that change locally

Mike Brooman: [01:02:37] in the U S it's

James Dice: [01:02:39] kind of like with an iPhone, like if I change my contacts in one app, And, then I want to share my notes in my notes app with that same contact that I just added that's already that contextual awareness is, there cross across the platform?

Mike Brooman: [01:02:52] Yeah. So naming is something that we definitely consider as something that we should be trying to solve in a, very consistent way. And at the moment, a lot of the focus is, yeah, I'm translating out to the ontologies just because of some of the technologies that we've chosen, don't lend themselves natively to that.

But that's also a kind of very conscious choice that we've made because we think the ontologies are. Stealing quite early days, they're still kind of developing themselves. And ultimately we want to  come alongside and bringing them in a bit later on.

James Dice: [01:03:25] so you said one of the things on LinkedIn that I pulled was you said RPC is exactly what we found lacking and the motivation behind the project.

So can you explain what RPC is and why it's lacking?

Mike Brooman: [01:03:39] So, yeah, this is probably getting into a bit kind of top of map territory, but I'll do my best though. Probably crucify me after this. So RBC is the ability to say to something, please, can you go away and do this and then nothing to go and do its thing and then come back and go, cool.

I've done it. And sometimes it will say I've done it and here's the result. Hmm. Okay. So in terms of that, it means it's very reliable. So from a country. Paul's perspective. And also from a user experience perspective, which is, we told them we're really keen on, what we want to make sure of is push a button and they're expecting something to happen.

Not only can we give them some feedback that that thing might be taking some time, but then when we get a response, we can go, cool. It's done. Okay. The problem that we have when we start using, protocols, it's more designed for like telemetry or publish and subscribe approaches is it can be, overly burdensome in terms of the number of cycles that you need to go through in terms of.

I want this thing to happen, but then you don't get anything back to say that has happened. So then you have it, have to go back again and go, has it happened yet? No, it just doesn't happen as it happened yet. And throughout that whole time, it's a bit like the difference in it between kind of TCP and UDP TCP is kind of like, hi, how are you?

Yeah, I'm fine with it. Whereas UDP is just be kind of shouting at you. And hoping that you're receiving it, but there's just, there's nothing that comes back the other way. So you was. it's not the absolute kind of foundation of what we're doing, what we do didn't want to create with something that was just based around the publish and subscribe, because it didn't feel like that lends itself best to all of the possible use cases.

And also bear in mind. What we're trying to achieve with this ultimately is something that can provide, really consistent experiences. Within a building using what are often inconsistent, some technologies. And it doesn't matter  whether you speak to, people that run on coworking spaces or so people who manage large portfolios.

there is yet to be anyone that I found that I've spoken to in that space that can confidently go. Yeah, we use all of the same technology in all of our buildings. It just doesn't happen because of the fragmentation. And when you've got people like that kind of big four accountancy that I mentioned earlier who have their own kind of workplace app.

Well, that is a really consistent experience and they want their people to be able to fly to another office in. Yeah, Amsterdam or Madrid or wherever, and when they land go cool. I can use my workplace app to interact with this building exactly the same way as I do it in London. And so that's the overall on the purpose of this.

And also then from a kind of building owner perspective. if you're in that room world of kind of trading buildings as assets, You also want the confidence that you can kind of peel off anything that is operational and stick something on that could be something different. that's where I think with the SAS providers of the world, it really is going to take a bit of a kind of leap of faith there because what we're essentially asking them is come on this journey with us.

We think we've got a great idea as to how this can work. You can all benefit. But actually you're all going to benefit from this thing being here. And so there are going to be a lot of people who are just like, this is totally bonkers, not in a million years, we're just going to do this ourselves. But this is where it's important that we start acknowledging that it's not just about, the stuff that's sitting out in the cloud is also about the experience of the people who turn up and actually have to interact with this stuff on a day to day basis.

It is about the people who have to go around that building and maintain it and clean it and look after it, they also need an experience of their own. I know the thing that I liken it to is, you know, there is no one who operates or runs a building when they're showing someone around their new space, you know, they, they're getting really excited.

You know, they look great lobby area, all that kind of stuff moving through and the gaps were floor or they're like, Oh, hang on sec. I'll just pop a riser. Look at my cup of piping. Like that's some pretty cool cup of piping, right? Like no one does that because we take piping for granted and it's standardized.

And so this plays into that kind of an, I think you've been using the language a lot of kind of overlay technologies. And that's really what this is. it's a lightweight framework, but it's also using some of the kind of thinking that Google and Apple have done a lot in the residential space. So how do we define things as traits?

So how do we define the device has brightness, if it's a light, how do we define it as having temperature? If it's, you know, a thermostat or it's. Uh, uncle unit or whatever, and then what it also gives you. And this is really important from the skills perspective is rather than as being down at these kind of obscure point names then blow this open to a whole world of developers who can go, Oh, This relates to an actual thing that I can see in real life.

Oh. And I can see it in a digital twin. Oh. And now we can talk about it as all the same thing. Oh. And actually I can write some code again so I can improve my building on my own.   uh, I did get accused the other day of this being some Massively audacious thing. And I think there was someone that actually referenced it in the comments as well.

Yeah. Why are you bothering, I've had comments previously about this sounds like a lot of effort. what's the point kind of thing, but I think when you've got so many stakeholders and people that interact with something like a building who are all frustrated with how it works. Why wouldn't we try and pursue this and make it better?

Oh yeah. And the reason that we chosen to take the open source approach is we acknowledged as a group of people quite a while ago, that the number of buildings that we can physically touch and actually make a difference to in our lifetime. Was not going to be very many because project cycles along our typical engagements, uh, between three months on the short end, but going up to kind of a year, most of the time.

And so, realistically, even if we had the biggest fire hose of money in the world, even if you go out and hire people that are over where we're still not going to be able to. make enough of a change. And that's where we just decided, well, if other people like what we do and they want to come along for the journey, then great Hopefully we can make something of it hatefully in, hyping, even in life, like a year or two years time, let alone five or 10, you know, they will be a an ecosystem around this and there will be a bunch of people winning because they've actually implemented this in the buildings, but let's see.

James Dice: [01:10:33] Let me see if I can answer the why bother question about this. so I saw several comments on LinkedIn about, you know, why would you try this? This is too big, too hairy, too messy. And let me sort of describe what I see as like, why, so let's say you have a building right now, or maybe even a portfolio.

Cross that portfolio, you have things like the comfy app, right? Where, you know, you're installing comfy and the company engineering, smart people are coming in and integrating with the HVAC systems so that the tenant can control their personal set point in their office. Right. So that integration is happening.

And then over here, the building great, really wants fault detection. And so they go out and they say, Hey, really would like to implement copper tree analytics. And so copper tree analytics comes in and they're really smart engineers. You know what they do, they go ahead and they integrate with the HR system.

And this is just one use case. Right. And just, there are two use cases, right?

Mike Brooman: [01:11:29] Two types of integration

James Dice: [01:11:30] that are basically redundant in my opinion. Right? So you're, saying

Mike Brooman: [01:11:34] I'm going talk to the HVAC system and

James Dice: [01:11:37] then I'm going to create a data model for that HVAC system that is customized for my application.

Right. And

Mike Brooman: [01:11:44] I

James Dice: [01:11:44] think what you're describing is that, okay, what if we just all decided, and those comfy engineers and the copper tree engineers, what if they all decided that, Hey, we're actually all just going to integrate like this, and then we're going to contribute to an open source project that makes that integration process better and better and better.

And you know what, the next time someone sets up comfy on the other side of the world, they can now use. That integration process and this sort of ties and the conversation with Andrew a few weeks ago. So where we don't have these projects and buildings that are like this, we have projects like project haystack and things like that, where people are, are coming together, but we have, I think the terminology he used was.

people are building, like putting bricks together over here, and then people are basically reinventing how they're going to do that brick over there. And we haven't decided that Hey,

Mike Brooman: [01:12:32] once we do that brick,

James Dice: [01:12:33] we're just going to reuse that code over again. Basically. I think what people are missing when they say why bother is that there's so much.

Savings with the integration process. But also if we all decided we were going to  do it together. Yeah. We would also unlock new use cases.

Mike Brooman: [01:12:50] Right. So simply. What

James Dice: [01:12:52] if copper tree and comfy now could then say, okay, when comfy is installed, copper tree is gonna unlock these new FTD analytics and vice versa.

Right? And I think that's what we're missing is , we're all spending so much time on integration and , doing the same shit differently that we're

Mike Brooman: [01:13:09] not

James Dice: [01:13:10] able to get to those new use cases that then move the industry forward. So that's my rant of the day.

Mike Brooman: [01:13:16] Am I on the right track?

There? A 100%. So I think, and actually I meant to touch on this earlier because, we were very, very close to becoming a Tridium house. And actually, the reason that we didn't go down the microbrewery was. We couldn't shift their code into a standard development environment. And it was all developers, biggest bugbear with things like it was net links with Amex.

So I mentioned, or simply in Crestron there just isn't that, understanding. Of the development life cycles that are used in kind of more enterprise it approaches and this plays into, you know, even just interacting with, get to store your code and stuff like that. And so what we wanted as an integrator was the ability to do this quickly.

And that was so much. Stuff that I sat through when you and Andrew were talking. And I was just like, I cannot believe that someone who sat on the other side of the world is also talking about Lego bricks for how we kind of pull all this stuff together. But that's exactly. Yeah. And it's the way that we view it is.

There is no point having all of these integrators, expanding all of this energy when actually there's an actual bonfire of the planet occurring. And actually we just all need to kind of crack on and make stuff better. And I think the other thing that is really important that we decided quite early was.

Whilst the, code base for smart core will be in there, the creative commons and the license that we've chosen is Sharon. Like, so that means if you take it and you change it, you have to release it under the same terms. Hmm. Well, what we didn't want to do was restrict people in a way that meant we couldn't have proprietary staff coming interact with.

That Holy case system. And actually, I think it's probably something that's going to be actively encouraged. And I think, you know, pretty, and we've done a phenomenal job in terms of their marketplace. But it's still at the stage where you're still paying for licenses. the example I was going to, I don't know why.

I think it's an image. I picked out in a presentation a long time ago, but if we had someone in the world say a town hall in Guatemala that suddenly wanted to automate their heating and lighting and make it events based around a Google calendar, we want them to be able to go and pick up smart core, use all the bricks that have been opened by the people.

And just get on with making that town hall, the most optimal place it can be. And the idea is eventually we will have a community edition that is like that. And then if people want enterprise support, then that will be something that they could pay for. But we also think there's a really good chance that smart or we'll just get to a stage of being an integration framework that people will just pick up and use because as we found in our most recent project, And I absolutely loved this cause.

what have I developed as Matt came back? Absolutely beaming. And he was like, not only did we use smart core, but actually it was the best way of achieving the integration between those systems. Because it was so quick, we built a load of stuff already and it just meant we could actually get on with delivering real value to the client who was ultimately going to be interacting with that experience.

So it's working yeah. 30 days. it is a very audacious play. Well, I think as you say, if we're actually all going to kind of come around, this is challenge. There are ample opportunities for people to make. Loads of money. There's 2.6 billion buildings in the world or whatever it is, you know, there's enough to go out here and ultimately there's a chronic skill shortage.

So if you want to come to the party and play let's, let's play love

James Dice: [01:17:07] that. Yeah. I love that. All right. So. I think my friend Corey is going to be mad at me if I don't shove some of these other questions that you, that he had on LinkedIn, some thanks your questions. We got to let Mike get to dinner at some point here, but let's throw these questions out.

So I think the only one that you haven't answered yet is we have all these other open source projects going on. So we mentioned haystack and brick. so Corey works on building  shout out to all the N Raelians, um, there's GPX ML, Citi, GML, IFC, and then shout out to Alper with Sedona and projects and star.

So you mentioned kind of developing alongside all of these other open source efforts. And so how does that interaction work with  those efforts?

Mike Brooman: [01:17:49] Yeah. So I think, if you look at, Linux as an EK system, like, there's one Linux kernel, but there's a bunch of you there's fedora that center us there's red hat, you know, they all coexist, but also I think it was really interesting cause we did have this, um, a little while ago when someone was kind of like, you know, you're, you're reinventing Voltaren.

I was really fortunate to, talk to Andrew the other week. And we talked a lot about the differences between what we were doing and where we actually ended up was, Oh, it's been quite sweet fit because actually Voltron's entirely focused on energy and grid and load shedding and luck on stuff that isn't what smart core is designed to do.

And so this is also where we get into as well as that kind of commercial. Coopertition actually there's. Quite a lot of just collaboration that's possible within no consoles, just because it's another open source project. It doesn't mean it's going to, you know, subsume or consume or, push it out.

How others could there be some overlaps. Sure. But actually a lot of what we talked about was because smart core is so focused on the experience. It's so focused on the kind of in-building staff, the actually connection into stuff like Voltron, which doesn't really have much in the way of interfaces or things that really are applying, facing, and actually smart code could be used as a way to get that data out to people or to perform control time different architectures.

It might be for some settings. It works best and there's no need for something like spark or I'm sure that will project where Voltron in terms of its focus on power and everything else makes all the sense in the world. And so smart. Cool. We're getting nowhere near it. So I think everything you say sufficiently knew that everyone is still fine, their feet.

I think that's where, I've really kind of bought into the honesty and integrity of, of you and nexus in Safaria is. You're very open about this is a learning journey for you, but I think we need more people to come of and of acknowledged they're also on the learning journey. And I think, yeah, Andrea, his whole thing about the kind of fog of war and the big, full market machine kind of pumping all this stuff out.

I genuinely think, I mean, I've seen some collateral again from the big four player that I actually mentioned earlier. that says they have a million smart buildings worldwide. And I was just like, where are they? Just, everyone keeps talking about the edge, which is a great building, but turning up to the smart building conference every year.

And still talking about the edge makes me think there are not a million smart buildings in the world yet. So they, I think the more that we can get through a stage of all engaging this kind of learning mentality and that we're all on the journey. And actually, yeah, maybe there will be some overlap and maybe we will need a difficult conversation about you treading on my toes.

But actually, as we've already said, there is so much to go out here so much. That actually, we just really need people to kind of get on board with stuff, get learning, and get doing. Like we cannot keep building buildings like we're doing, it's just madness. Absolute madness. A hundred

James Dice: [01:21:06] percent agree.

So how can people get involved in smart

Mike Brooman: [01:21:09] core foundation? So we are early, early days. we are due to be pushing out an API. I'm going to say this month, I'll get shot by Tom and Matt, some more broadly and Ben and the rest of the team. basically if you want to get involved, www  smart hyphen core.tech, have a read of the page. There's a form down the bottom. It asks you who you are.

If you want to contribute, hit that button, give us your details and we'll be in touch. We would love to hear from anyone who wants to get on board. We have spent a lot of money getting this far, we've made a huge number of mistakes. We've gone from spaghetti where configurations to centralize configurations to now fully distributed.

We've rewritten the whole thing from Java and to go, it's been quite a journey, but we've  got to the point now where we've really acknowledged. We need those other lenses on this now to go and contribute to making this something that is properly holistic, because we don't know, I didn't want to be in the position of some of the ontologies, which are so heavily rooted in BAS it makes them difficult to shift into.

Access control. It'll be a visual, you know, whatever. So yeah, we, need those different lenses. Otherwise were not going to get it right on our own. And we know that.

James Dice: [01:22:32] Yeah. And, and I'm, I'm one of those people that's filled out the form and, happy to be involved, and help out. However I can. I think it's such a perfect fit for nexus.

As well as just  you know, this is why nexus was created as to help out with things like this. So thanks so much, Mike. We'll have to let you, uh, it's what, eight o'clock something like that in

Mike Brooman: [01:22:51] the UK. So

James Dice: [01:22:53] let me get to dinner and, uh, thanks for coming on the show.

Mike Brooman: [01:22:58] Thanks so much for having me.

James Dice: [01:22:59] Alright, friends. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Nexus podcast. For more episodes like this and to get the weekly Nexus newsletter, please subscribe at nexus.substack.com. You can find the show notes for this conversation there as well. As always, please reach out on LinkedIn with any thoughts on this episode.

I'd love to hear from you. Have a great day

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Happy Thursday!

Welcome to this week’s deep dive exclusively for Nexus Pro members. It’s an honor to have you here. This deep dive is a follow up to my recent podcast conversation with Mike Brooman, CEO of Vanti. I learned a lot from this conversation and want to share my takeaways and the full transcript with you below.

In case you missed it in your inbox, you can find the audio or video here:

Nexus site | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube | Add to other podcast apps

Enjoy!

—James


Outline

  • My reaction, including highlights
  • Full transcript

My reaction

It’s been fun getting to know Mike ever since I heard him present on Memoori’s webinar over the summer. It sounds like many of you have reached out to Mike as well! That’s what Nexus is all about.

I hope the MSIs out there will forgive me, but my main reaction to the episode has less to do with the MSI topic and more to do with Smart Core. I think this episode builds nicely onto Andrew Rodgers’ episode. We’re spending far too much time, as an industry, solving the same problems in different ways and keeping the solutions to ourselves. I’m interested in hearing your reaction to my rant near the end of the episode.

As an example, how many companies out there have written a custom driver for each proprietary protocol out there? How long did each driver take to write? If a new company pops up tomorrow that needs to talk using that protocol, how many of them will write it from scratch? And that’s just one use case at one place in the stack, right? So I’m all for Smart Core and I hope to get involved in it.

Since PassiveLogic’s announcement was last week, it feels like I also need to also point out how much their thesis differs from Smart Core. As Troy said in episode 5 of the podcast, he thinks a proprietary, but innovative platform at this layer of the stack is the answer to democratizing the tech outcomes we need. Of course, just like the overlay vs. built-from-scratch dichotomy, both can and will exist.

My highlights:

  • Mike answers James’ favorite question: complacency, risk aversion (7:08)
  • The smart building adoption curve, and the concept of ‘first followers’ (11:23)
  • ‘Big four’ equivalents in other silos (13:54)
  • The tenant-landlord problem- separate mindsets, separate systems (20:32)
  • Defining ‘master systems integrator’ (26:52)
  • Are MSIs accommodating vendors to continue operating in silos? (33:29)
  • Finding the line between MSI and consultant, commissioning agent (39:58)
  • The ideal holistic data model, and the potential of BIM (48:26)
  • SmartCore: what it is, why RPC is lacking, why bother, interaction with other open source efforts, and how to get involved (1:00:05)

Full transcript

Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!

James Dice: [00:00:00] Hello, friends. Welcome to Nexus, a smart buildings technology podcast for smart humans. I'm your host, James Dice. If we haven't met before, I write a weekly newsletter on the same topic. It's also called Nexus. Each week I share what I've learned, my opinions, and what I'm excited about in the quickly evolving world of intelligent buildings. Readers have called Nexus the best way to stay up to date on the future of this industry without all the marketing fluff. You can check it out and subscribe at nexus.substack.com or click the link in the show notes.

Since starting the Nexus newsletter, many of you have reached out to me wanting to talk shop, and we have. After a few weeks of those wonderful conversations, I realized I needed to record and share them with our growing community. So here we are. The Nexus podcast is born. This is our chance to explore and learn with the brightest in our industry together.

Episode 24 is a conversation with Mike  CEO of vanity and master systems integrator out of the UK. We talked about why buildings are behind and how the problem of closed or proprietary systems extend beyond just HVAC. Then we took a bit of a deep dive into the role of the master systems integrator, which is often misunderstood in our industry.

Finally Mike explained the open source effort vanity is launching called smart SmartCore. I'm very excited about smart core, and can't wait to hear your feedback and see people get involved in this effort. This episode of the podcast is directly funded by listeners like you who have joined the next pro membership community.

You can find info on how to join and support the podcast at  dot com. You'll also find the show notes there and a link to Mike's LinkedIn page. Oh, and by the way, if you take a look at your podcast feed and you're missing some episodes, that's because those episodes are exclusive to members of nexus pro sign up for a pro membership to get your personal podcast feed with access to all of the episodes without further ado, please enjoy nexus podcast, episode 24.

Alright. Hello, Mike. Welcome to the nexus podcast. Thanks for coming on. Can you introduce yourself to the

Mike Brooman: [00:02:11] audience? Thanks so much having me say I might bring it. And I'm CEO at  where I must systems integrator 40 people based in Birmingham, in the UK.

James Dice: [00:02:21] Great. Great. Thanks. so yeah, so let's get started with just your career history in general.

So maybe go from present day backwards. So when did you start banty and then what'd you do before that?

Mike Brooman: [00:02:34] Okay, cool. So, um, I actually didn't start vanity,  my business partner, Raj, uh, or his idea. so whilst he was at uni. Was, uh, going around the country on his bike or I'd landed on his bike, kind of installing audio, visual equipment into venues and that kind of thing we actually met because he was at university in Birmingham.

And that was my first job out of uni actually. So I was a network manager in a secondary school, which was a total, some of fire. Just overnight became SIS admin for 900 users and had never done any of it before. So it was pretty steep learning curve. Uh, good fun. So, yeah, we just really hit it off because we were both very passionate about, people being able to use technology and it being really accessible to them.

So. we got into the world of HIV through a kind of little remote controls that you could put on the walls of classrooms. Say that when teachers move between rooms, they had a, a consistent interface to turn everything on and off and all that kind of thing that it needs to find the remote control or have students steal the batteries and all that kind of stuff.

So, uh, yeah, unfortunately, Chuck to stay in complete his degree, I went off to the world of. it management consultancy. So worked for a company called cap Gemini and worked for the foreign office in the UK for nine months. And then I really wanted to be in infrastructure it's, what I've always been interested in.

And unfortunately I can see a route three with, with cap to make that happen. So I left there, joined Accenture and then worked for the whole bunch of clients all over the world. So I did some quite big pieces of work. With Dell computers. so over in Texas and in Asia Pacific, and then did, all kinds of stuff with people like black free research, emotion, best project ever actually tested, for a week in Israel.

It's one of the only places in the world where the CDMA network coexists with GSM, um, so easily the best thing ever. Although I did get stopped by the security services on the way out, which, uh, It was less fun. Um, and then after that, rod was kind of badgering me to come back and join him. So I was employee number five back in November, 2008.

And, uh, the rest, as they say is history. so I've been through a few iterations, started out as, uh, RTS and then rebranded as van 2011.

James Dice: [00:04:55] Got it. Okay, cool. And, and what is fantasy today? What do you guys do?

Mike Brooman: [00:05:01] Uh, so that is, today's a whole mix of stuff. so, hidden away in the name is audio visual and it.

Well, they, thankfully our marketing company at the time kind of went, we don't think you guys are going to stay and just do this stuff forever. So you have the option. If you want to later on that, you can drop the story in and just go with vantage as a brand. That makes sense. So we still have some, some kind of pure play AVN it clients.

we have a managed services practice that, Runs kind of standard service desk looks off the networks. Um, we did that for, a couple of multinational clients, which is the kids and we've extended that over time to then introduce more and more operational technology into that. So, we really started bringing AVN it together when we did the, the central library in Birmingham, which is the library of Birmingham, as you might expect.

Uh, and, um, We made a bit of a name for ourselves in that industry, because we really started getting into it just as it was becoming kind of really heavily network based. And because we had that good understanding of it, it allowed us to start delivering a lot of Ava rights by Pete solutions and also doing a lot more kind of in software.

And then we started moving into control systems. And then eventually we did our first smart building in 2015. So today, we are still a real, the mix. I think our focus though is now primarily on the built environment. We see a huge opportunity in the space and also a huge skills gap. And, yeah, it's where we're choosing to play.

So I'm looking at. our plans at the moment for the next three to four, we've just developed our first product called , which is kind of smart workplace solution, which is quite fun. So just looking at getting patents sorted and that kind of thing. And then, um, the, the idea is that we'll continue along with the MSI journey, hopefully doing more and more around, systems integration and buildings.

All

James Dice: [00:07:03] right. Cool. Well, we're going to nerd out on some of that stuff. I want to talk to you about the MSI in a second, but first I want to ask you my favorite question, which is, why are buildings like decades behind other technology? And this would be a really unique answer for me. So I'm excited, no pressure, but I just think it gave me.

Mike Brooman: [00:07:21] I'll try my best. Um, so I've obviously listened and watched to a lot of things, the podcast previously. And I think, the thing that is really interesting for me is the number of different lenses. There are on a building as a kind of ecosystem of stuff.

I think broadly it's behind because of the complacency in the industry. I think there's not really been that, um, impetus or motivation to kind of get on boards. I think automotive had it a lot from a kind of safety and. Infotainment perspective, like getting mapping in and, you know, entertainment in cars and all that kind of stuff.

And then now it's moving to kind of Tesla and we're looking at software updated products and that kind of stuff. But yeah, I think, if you look at buildings generally, is it kind of into anything and over their entire life cycle? Because the people who are paying and in fact, Andrew Rogers, like sum this up beautifully for me in terms of that, that disconnect between the pain and the people that are paying.

Yeah. Um, and so I think. It's been really interesting, certainly over the last few years, as things have gone from kind of what is a smart building to, how do I get one? Um, it feels like that kind of, gap is almost being closed in that People are now starting to demand it on the kind of tenant side of things.

And investors are kind of starting to listen to the other end of stuff. But I think also just the cycle yeah. Are involved in buildings. Right. I mean, you're putting a building out of the ground. You're talking about a design period of. Two to three years. And it's only really the very largest kind of portfolio developers that could think about iterating quickly.

Like if you're a developer, that's a kind of smaller, mid size one. You might be looking at doing a building every two to three years. And so unless you're someone that's really out there and looking for new ways of doing stuff, chances are your you're in a world of Do what you've always done and get what we've always got.

And I think that's where the whole pandemic situation, particularly for commercial buildings is really interesting because you now have a, the whole set of property owners and landlords that are really sitting there going. Oh, we used to just kind of collect rent checks every quarter. And now actually we need to start giving people a reason to come back into our buildings and, um, you know, people like Anthony, slumbers probably like, they can talk to this far back than I can, but I think some real tectonic shifts happening at that level.

And I think It is really dawning on some people that actually they are going to have to move into that kind of service space that it isn't anymore. Just about. Okay. We've built a building on a plot of land. Look at the amazing view out the window. Here's how much it costs you every quarter like that just isn't going to fly anymore.

And I think the other exciting thing and something, you know, as I mentioned, even from the super early days of, working together with Raj is those spaces are going to become a lot more about the experience within them. It's not going to be about desk farms anymore. It's going to be about how do we come together and actually collaborate around stuff.

I also think I loved, Uh, knowledge from switch, just analogy kind of 1990s ERP. I mean as someone who used to be an Oracle consultant and sat in that world and just sat, looking at blue screens with yellow fields going, why is this system this bad? Like how do people work with this every day?

I just think there's so much potential to, to make it better. And I think the ultimate reasons it's decades behind is profiting construction to just really late to the party. And I think. They're also hugely risk averse industries and I'm actually. One thing that does spring to mind, I'll never forget the event I went to over in Berlin.

It was previously a sustainability conference that rebranded around prop tech because prop tech was getting kind of cool. And, I met this lady, I won't name the, portfolio now, but 40 billion euros of property under management. And we kind of, we got chatting like, what do you do? All that kind of stuff.

And she was a bit interested in kind of smart buildings and things like. What is what not, how to, and, um, she was like, Ooh, nah, I can't really see this ever taking off. And I was like, well, What do you think would be required to make it happen and had had it genuine answer was regulation. And at that point I was ready to just get on a plane and come home.

I was like, if we have to wait for legislation to achieve this, then we're doomed. Um, but I think the thing that it really stuck with me from that conversation was, Her use of the words first followers and the thing that she was really open about it. And she was just, and as soon as we see someone else do something and it has business advantage and there's returns on it, she was like, we get all over it.

Like, we'll be on it all over it, like a rash until that point. We won't take the risk because actually we don't know if it will work. And I think we've seen that play out. I mean, we've taken people to like our flagship smart building. They've had a great time. They've got it all. They've spoken to clients, you know, got great vibes, all that kind of stuff.

And then we've had a followup call kind of days later and they're like, cool. So can you take us to 10 more? And you're just like, it's just not there yet. And it's almost like you can't kind of show people enough. in terms of the traditional, like technology adoption curve. I think we're still in early adopter and innovator territory.

We're not, certainly not, even early majority yet it's got a way to go. Got it.

James Dice: [00:13:15] Yeah. It's funny. The adoption curve requires people to go first and if people aren't coming first, then that's a big problem. All right. Cool. I want to build on several things you said there. So first of it is, you mentioned Andrew, so Andrew Rogers, for those who didn't listen to that episode, it'll be about five episodes back.

I'm not sure when this will air, but around number 20 or 19 or

Mike Brooman: [00:13:38] something like that.

James Dice: [00:13:39] So Andrew and I talked about openness and we were so talking about the building automation system world. So in that episode, we walked from, you know, basically a sensor to platform and talked about all the different ways that something could be open

Mike Brooman: [00:13:52] or not open

James Dice: [00:13:53] in those cases.

Yeah. So something that you and I have talked about before is that you come from the audio visual world. and there are obviously all these other silos beyond BAS and audio visual. And what you told me, it was like, there's big four or equivalent in these other areas. Right. And.

Mike Brooman: [00:14:10] Same sort of

James Dice: [00:14:11] patterns right.

Of proprietary and sort of way too much hardware, redundant hardware, redundant networks. So can you explain that for people that  come from the BAS world about how you  understand their pain and, uh, you've seen these, same patterns from other sides?

Mike Brooman: [00:14:27] Yeah, sure. So I think, um, well maybe touch on AB first.

So the two big players, up until reasonably recently where, AMX and Crestron. So, they were the kind of goatee, whether it was high end resi or commercial, early on, we were really fortunate AMX backed us, a huge amount from when we were really small. And I think they could see that we were really going to kind of.

push that stuff. we're one of the very integrators that work with, Java libraries directly on their controllers. Most integrators work in a programming language called net links, which is completely proprietary to AMX. So it's fine. Very similar in terms of. If you look back over the heritage of all, all these different systems, they all come from a very similar place.

And it's normally someone at some stage when, Oh, I really wish something could be done. Or I really wish like if I could get some information out of something to show it to people or to react to it or whatever. And, um, It's actually part of AMX is training videos. You have to learn that AMX was founded because the guy who, actually built some of the first control systems was kind of using his garage door opener and he wanted to automate some stuff around it.

And then future multimillion. Build a business kind of grew from that. Like it's absolutely insane. But I think if you look at the pattern across pretty much every industry they've all been through it. Like even things like CCTV, where we used to,  put lashings of co-ax cable, three buildings to plug a camera into an MBR and a route has now all come on to IP networks because.

It's just a no brainer. Like there's so many well-developed standards that exist in it. And the reality is that it, we, as an industry just dwarfs, you know, whether it's BAS, whether it's Avi, whether it's easy access, whatever you like is food is of magnitude larger. And also has a lot of well-established patterns of.

How to plug things together, whether that's, physically using structured cabling or if it's software patterns in terms of, how things interact with each other. So I really do feel the pain and I think it was kind of astonishing for us that when we started looking outside of, of AAV that.

Actually all of these other industries, we're in pretty much exactly the same state. And I think also the other interesting thing. Yeah. The demographic of people here in the us, these industries is, predominantly white, predominantly male, and predominantly getting older. It is the, is the thing. And actually, yeah, if you look around and we have of events in the UK, like the burden controls industry association, we turned up to one of their events, I think for the first time, two or three years ago, we were lucky to be taken on bypass.

And, um, yeah, we just kind of sat in the room. We were like, we are literally the youngest people in here. Yeah. And I'm yeah, I'm still 38.  but there were very few, like, you can count them on one hand, the people who were not in the kind of senior years of 50 sixties and about to retire. So, yeah, I think there is this, and we've talked about it previously in terms of this coming together, you know, that the first stage is everything gets onto the same physical media.

And I think we're kind of at that point now, you know, most fear systems will plug into a network. CCTV access control. Yeah, pretty much everything that goes into building now uses structured cabling. The bit that we're missing now is that convergence around the network infrastructure. So the active equipment, the server infrastructure, and just trying to get away from.

System had ends you know, PCs that are bought from Dell PC world in the UK. And then they're just kind of chucked in the back of a server rack. And I think that was the other amazing thing. When we started getting more into the buildings side of this was we would walk into like really quite prestigious buildings.

And you'd go into this dark back room where  facilities management lived. And you talked about XP workstations, just kind of sat there with you know, the nice Hill background on and you just kind of looking at it from an it perspective, being like nothing should have been, been like five years ago.

it's probably the unsecure, like there's new patches coming out for it. this is not okay. Uh, and then I think. well, we could get into a whole world of good backup techniques and all that kind of stuff. We've been involved in projects where no one took a backup of the building management system.

And so three months of changes as part of commissioning were just lost. you know, you've got people, you stood that guy. Oh, it didn't die. It needed to back up. And in it terms, I mean, that would just be kind of. Failure of what I want. Yeah. But it's, a, different, perspective. And I think it's where we still need all of the specialists skill.

We just also, I need it to be network aware and software enabled. I think that's the, the kind of next, next part of the journey.

James Dice: [00:19:40] Got it. Cool. Well, I think people will be happy to hear that, that their experiences are mirrored elsewhere. So

Mike Brooman: [00:19:46] that's great. Uh,

James Dice: [00:19:47] I also wanted to follow up on something you said about Andrew and that conversation as well.

The sort of, I think what Andrew called it was the consumer pain distance. So we don't have feedback from the people that are using the technology when we make our technology choices. And that's one of the reasons why the industry is behind. So I want to talk to you about your experiences around this, around, um, what I'm seeing on some of my projects that I'm working on right now, where there's this disconnect between tenants and landlords.

Right.

Mike Brooman: [00:20:15] And what I'm seeing

James Dice: [00:20:17] is that the landlords right now are kind of feeding into this disconnect because they're like, On this one project, it's a marquee office building in New York city, huge project. And they don't really care about connecting to the tent systems whatsoever. And I want to hear what you think, cause you told me, you know, space utilization and better in building experiences for occupants.

Like these things are all intertwined with. Better management information for the building owner and improve, you know, all this stuff is intertwined, especially between the tenant and the landlord.

Mike Brooman: [00:20:51] So.

James Dice: [00:20:52] I want to know like how you're seeing all of these things come together when you have these separate mindset, separate systems, and these office buildings.

Mike Brooman: [00:21:01] Uh, yeah. So I think, I mean the short answer is we're not. And I think we've been involved with, yeah, even kind of big four accountancy firms. Who've got this whole  smart workplace initiative on the go and they're taking hundreds of thousands of square feet in prime, real estate and their smart team.

Uh, absolutely livid because their property team has signed into this lease. And no one had asked the question about, could they connect to these systems? And they arranged a meeting with the landlord as a followup, like no brand new tenants coming into the building and said, yeah, we've got this workplace app.

We use it to control our space, but actually we really want to be able to interface with kind of base-build systems. And I think they had, HVAC and lighting in as part of that kind of what we would call the fits out. I don't know if that's similar to an analogy in the U S and um, the landlord just turned around and went, Nope.

And they were literally, I mean, they were taking, I think it was about 800, a thousand square feet of space. So yeah, this is like it's big money, but because they'd signed on the dotted line and because they saw, or it's just too much of an issue and it was deemed a security risk. It just wasn't happening.

And so I think well, this goes back to everything that we were saying earlier around kind of the value that landlords need to provide now. And I think, That for me is a real case in point where that big four accountancy firm will now never turn up to a building again, without having start question first.

And I would imagine they will be writing those terms into their heads , you know, before they sign a lease. And that's where I think we are pleasing that kind of demand cycle that we mentioned, but it takes a long time. Right? It's this, Very protracted cycle of things. It's, loads of kind of fragmentation around who owns what there's lots of kind of pension funds the back, this stuff.

There's private developers. There's no real kind of, well, that's not fair actually. Up until recently there's been no real kind of coming together with those kinds of entities to look at this stuff. But actually I think, you know, Widescore are doing a great job around this in terms of moving from just looking at connectivity and kind of rubber stamping that into actually now starting to look at, smart systems.

And I think that will start to pay dividends in that it's raising a lot of awareness now for landlords to actually people do want to connect into those systems. Uh, but I think the other thing that we see is, from a baseball perspective, and again, this goes back to all those kinds of different lenses on the building.

Why would landlords care? Because from their use cases that they have and how they want to operate a building. Yeah, it's, more hassle to allow someone else to be connecting into it. And you know, why would they, their focus is all about how do we get data out? How do we make sure that the building is efficient?

And also, how do we make sure that we're recharging everything that tenants are consuming, whether that's, you know, water or electricity or, or whatever. So you, I think. Yeah, it's it's coming. And I think we're certainly starting to see early specifications that talk about offering those services from landlords to tenants, but then also the implementation of how that happens.

There are some kind of reasonably worrying in gaps around things like securing tenants, plugging into a building and even some ideas that will go out via the cloud, which from our perspective, it's even in looking at user experiences and kind of trying to keep latency low as far as we possibly can. not just, it doesn't really sit like, you know, if you're a tenant in a building you want to be talking to the building within the building, you don't want to be kind of going out to your cloud to go to their cloud.

Then come back into the building that you were already in. Like, it just. It doesn't make any sense, right? Yeah. I think it's coming, but we just need to wait for the glacial pace. Right? All the technologies here, we can do it all tomorrow. It's just, it needs the people with the checkbooks to start signing the checks and genuinely, I think, you know, if there are people like that, listening, there are now people out in the market who are looking for this stuff and actually.

It shouldn't be a huge premium on service charge in my opinion, because it really doesn't require that much investment. But actually I think there probably is a premium there to, to tenants who do want to really enable their spaces for experience and being able to exchange data with landlords and real time.

James Dice: [00:25:39] Yeah, I think, I think this is a missing piece of the COVID conversation right now. So people are talking about, you know, I want space analytics, I want occupancy analytics, but what they're not talking about, and this kind of ties back to, you know, the course that we're sort of collaborating on right now.

And, Your colleagues are taking part in, but like we're not talking about, okay, what are the use cases? And acknowledging that those use cases cross the tenant boundary. They cross the tenant and the building system boundary a lot and they crossed the system boundary as well. So lighting HVAC, you know, Access control, whatever they're crossing these boundaries that historically we haven't really figured out a good way to cross.

I feel like that whole conversation is missing. I feel like there's like drawer and Anthony, like, you're talking about how, they're saying the office needs to evolve and all the landlords is saying let's evolve. Like we're going to, you know, we're going to motivate our, tenants back into the building.

But what we're not saying is like

Mike Brooman: [00:26:35] behind the scenes

James Dice: [00:26:36] we have. You know, 20 years of technology progress to make up for really quickly to make that happen

Mike Brooman: [00:26:42] a hundred percent. I think that's

James Dice: [00:26:44] missing anyway. We're not going to solve it here today. It's just something I'm seeing on a lot of my projects right now.

Mike Brooman: [00:26:50] So I agree.

James Dice: [00:26:51] Anyway. Talk about

Mike Brooman: [00:26:53] maybe something

James Dice: [00:26:54] that could solve that problem. The masters systems integrator. So you guys at fancy are

Mike Brooman: [00:27:01] a master

James Dice: [00:27:01] systems integrator. I think this is a very. perhaps misunderstood term in our marketplace. it's used worldwide. It's used in the U S I want to talk about  like, what is the actual definition of a master systems integrator to you guys?

Mike Brooman: [00:27:16] Okay. So, A couple of bits on this. and I have sat on stages things like integrated systems, Europe and the smart learning conference. I think it's, it's really important to get out. This is a self proclaimed. Master systems integrator, right? So there's no we've been accredited.

There's a course that we've been on.  the prefect pudding, right? So we can take you to a bunch of sites. We can show you the integration work. We can introduce you to our software developers and the rest of the team that bring all this together. And I think it's really important. We acknowledge that.

I also think master part gets misunderstood as well in terms of, in fact, the best example I have of this. Is a big four controls company that shall remain nameless, that we ended up in a bit of a competitive situation with. And, the conversation turned to them becoming the master systems integrator and the conversation then also went along the lines of them.

We need to work out who the slaves are now. That isn't the way that we look at master in Masa systems integration at all. So for us, it is very much around kind of master craftspeople in terms of people who have got really good at their trade and really good at their craft. And actually it's an acknowledgement that they have a breadth and depth of experience.

It is applicable to a certain situation. Okay. I have to clear

James Dice: [00:28:40] up that misconception Right.

Mike Brooman: [00:28:42] Well, with the, amount we're trying to kind of work out master from things like, you know, code repositories and all that kind of stuff. Cause of all of, recent events. yeah, I think important that we do get away from that as quickly as we possibly can.

And also very open to any of the labels that we could use to label ourselves. But I did find a definition, cause. I saw this came up on, LinkedIn and Navigant put this out,  two years ago. And I think it is still fully applicable. Say they define it as a service provider that demonstrates the main experience in it systems and networking, building automation and controls, application, software analytics, and support services.

And then they go onsite say MSM, I can create a program across system integration with complete interoperability. And that is what we do. So we are frequently described in our projects as the glue that binds everything together. the recent, large fits out that we did for a client in London. we have some absolutely amazing feedback from them to the extent that they were just like, we don't think we could have done this project without you.

You literally went around and worked with every single one of our subcontractors to help them understand what you needed to get from the technology. And then you pulled out of the bag and made it all work together. And so. I think that for me all stems, it makes an awful lot of sense, but I think it's not just the technical element of MSI.

That's important. It is also the people element. And I think we spend a good amount of our time, certainly early on in projects, really trying to work out where people are at on the technical understanding side of things, and then really supporting them if we need, in terms of, you know, whether it's getting devices onto the network, helping them understand the sub-net mosques, helping them understand what a reader is, understanding why they should change their default passwords, you know, all of those kinds of things.

And then. If they've got all of that stuff in the bag, it's then potentially into, you know, why we need naming schemers within those systems, because actually it allows us to report the data better. And I think a lot of our, building user experience work, we also use with other subcontractors to really um, bring the experience to life.

So, you know, sometimes if you're a system provider light and  access control, You might not be thinking you are this integral part of the overall building experience and what that journey is from sidewalk up to, up to your desk. But actually you are the first touch point that most people will experience Right? Yeah. First impressions too. Yeah, exactly. And if that doesn't work properly or it's unreliable or whatever, then actually, you're almost on a bit of a downer before you've even reached the lift. So I think there's a lot around, being really integral with people. There's a lot around difficult conversations for sure.

there's also a huge amount around learning and I think that's, it's one of the things that we always look for in, our hires is. Anyone who turns up to vanity and says, they've got some kind of home lab that basically through the door straight away, because we know that they're playing with technology in their own time and they do have that kind of learning attitude.

We tend to shy away from heavily kind of certified people. Hmm. so yeah, we're, we're looking for people with kind of. Grit and determination that, you know, if they get a big, hairy problem, they're going to go at it and keep going at it until they either resolve it or they can come up with some way of, of working around it.

And because of the breadth of technology that we experience, that's also super important. Like we often talk about people needing to learn in minutes and hours, not days and weeks. Because it can be that we're in the middle of a job and suddenly the client will announce that they've bought some IOT solution that suddenly we need to welcome magic to bring into the overall journey or experience.

And then it's about, you know, into data sheet, contacting vendors, trying to understand how we can integrate with them, that kind of stuff. And you can't do that if you're not willing to Almost roll with kind of what's going on a little bit. And I think that's why there are large systems integrators out there.

but they tend to be quite specialized. And I think that's the, the kind of tipping point really is it's that agility and ability to, to move with things and bring in what's new, not rely on. Having process, strict ways of working and only doing stuff in a way that we've done it before. because that, that just, well, if you know, construction, if you're in a construction program, the deadline never moves.

So it's about how do we make it work within the time we have left. Got it.

James Dice: [00:33:25] There's so much. I want to ask you about here. Where should we take this? I think what I want to do is actually just respond like with a little bit of a rant first. So you mentioned grit and determination and sort of like being the glue. And feel like that is so sorely needed on a construction project or any sort of technology project. But I also feel like it's accommodating all of those siloed subcontractors, as you've mentioned them to just keep on doing what they've been doing, because you know, the MSI is going to figure it out and

Mike Brooman: [00:33:56] there's part of me.

That's just like, that's not

James Dice: [00:33:58] how it's supposed to be. And how would you respond to that rent, I guess, to begin with?

Mike Brooman: [00:34:04] yeah, I, I think, uh, I agree to an extent, I think.

James Dice: [00:34:09] this is more of like a philosophical question. I have more practical ones that are,  that are coming up next, but

Mike Brooman: [00:34:15] lots of things with me.

So it's not those, um, because those people are also integral. Right. And I think they also tend to be specialized. So the example I always use around this is lighting. Okay. So as an MSI, we are not going to design you, amazing looking lighting scenes. We are not going to get into, you know, what color temperatures should go in which spaces and all this kind of thing, because I think.

We have to acknowledge that whilst it would be wonderful, we'll know everything and be able to do absolutely everything. I think the thing that we acknowledge is,  kind of what's the, boundary and the boundary for us is around that integration that they try and control it. Isn't about replacing the specialism.

Hmm. And, and that specialism is also critical, right. Because there's. Yeah, access control cards. There's a hundred different varieties and getting the compatibility right. And all that kind of stuff. We can research that and doing that within a project, like yeah, sure. But does that make us an access control, especially it's like, absolutely not.

Totally. And so I think it's about appreciating. As well as all those different lenses that we talk about kind of on that building, it's also, moving to a position of actually collaborating between all of these different people. And think we're going to succeed lots more a kind of coopertition if that makes sense, like, you know, there are some jobs where we may compete against people that actually want another job we'll be working alongside or, or delivering something.

And I think that's where, again, from a philosophical perspective, We don't believe that one vendor should do it all. And I think we see single vendors try and do absolutely everything and claim they do everything. But also I think from my and experience, yeah. Even back in Oracle days, Oracle went on a mad spending spree to buy all these different companies like PeopleSoft and all that kind of stuff.

And it took them years to properly integrate that into the rest of their solution so that it actually became Oracle HR. And I'm still not sure they've even achieved it honest, but, um, I think that's where. In buildings and because of construction and the way that that works and the size and scale of things, you know, yeah.

You could get to a stage and we've talked about it. You know, we've talked about the potential that in years to come, you will get something called like a main technology contractor. And actually it would be someone going like technology. Absolutely paying, just take the whole lot away from me, but. Kind of having looked at that we were then like, well, you know, it's almost like how far down the rabbit hole do you go?

Because, you know, once you start getting into color temperatures and whether it's, you know, there's five version two or my fair, or, you know, whether you want to have people visible at 10 feet or a hundred feet on CCTV, that is a specialism, those skills are required. It's just those people don't need to bring.

Networks, which is S servers and you know how do we kind of address those? Those boundaries, which will be gray, which will be blurry, you know, even between projects, it might be, or we integrate all the way down because of a particular use case in, one project. But actually it's pretty light touch in another.

Hmm. And so I think there is a, um, there's always a drive towards simplicity and, you know, One back to Pat one throat to choke, like, however you want to describe it. And the reason we'll say that, kind of real desire within construction, that everything is delineated into like these box contracts that, you know, you can point at someone and be like, it's their fault.

And that's where it does get difficult. And even, you know, our lawyers have sat us down and gone. You guys should really have kind of tri-party agreements here. Like, you know, you do so much work for a client. But actually you're working through a main contractor. If they have a falling out like you're in quite serious trouble because legally you're obliged to the main contractor, not to the end user, but the problem is because we tend to then stay with the end user to look after things.

And the main contract is going to disappear into the sunset on to, on to the next project. Yeah. It's, tough at times. And also, you know, Some construction sites are not nice places. Um, it can be really difficult work environments and especially where, you know, you are coming in as, this kind of master role and kind of going well, actually, you know, can we do this a bit differently or could we do this in this way?

It can put people's noses out of joint and. I think people are starting to get a better handle on it. And honestly, conversations I've been having more recently with people in Dmanisi Spain and also in the main contractor space. I think our growing in confidence to kind of go, actually, we don't really know about this stuff.

And then it just becomes so much easier to just have a really straightforward conversation that says, well, that's cool. Cause I also don't know anything about putting poles in the ground or building a steel structure or anything else. Like we're all here to do our part. And in the same way that I might need to ask you how I can run cable through the building or whatever, it would be great.

If you could come to me and go, actually, I don't know how to do this. Can you explain it to me? And then we can just sit down and have a really Straightforward, plain talking conversation.

James Dice: [00:39:56] Cool. And so I think what I'm hearing is that like the MSI it's not a. Tell me what to do. Tell him what my scope of work is.

Tell me where to go, what to be. It's more of a, a leader. Like you're pulling people together, pulling people along. It's a leadership role. You're in a consultation, basically. You're, you're a consultant in a way. and so w is that how you describe it? It's like a consultancy. And are you a contractor or are you just a con like talk to me about like business models?

Mike Brooman: [00:40:24] Yeah. So people get really upset when we call ourselves consultants. Um, which, uh, I think, you know, it's fair. I think the other thing is we've been really open to working with consultants and we do. And in fact, actually, even today, um, huge global consultancy has approached us, for a 1.8 million square foot building that is putting out a master systems integrator back.

And they've approached us because they've gone. Actually we can fulfill all of the project management stuff, all of the really detailed stuff they want doing around them. All of the lead well and Brianne certification stuff. We've got specialists on staff to do that. What we don't have is the ability to technically architect it and to do all that system validation and make stuff work together.

And that is like the perfect engagement for us, because it allows us to bring our technical scale, which is what we're social to have in the industry. But it means we're not trying to be, you know, consultants in. How buildings go together and all the standards and how they work and everything else. And I mean, we've had some pretty direct exchanges with consultants who have come to us and said, you know, if we ever find out you're doing consultancy, you'll never appear on our tender lists again for, being an integrator on our projects.

And you know, We're also not the people to be, sat around writing. Yeah. I mean, sometimes facts that come out like, you know, reams of paper of just like pages and pages of, these are the things that are gonna happen. And it's not that we're not interested in that detail. It's important.

it's just, it's not where we folk CoStar our kind of business. So We love performance specifications when they're written as performance specs. I think we genuinely really struggle when we get a very technically detailed spec through, because the reaction is to then go, Oh, okay. But, you know, What about if we did this?

And so it can become quite confrontational. Whereas, we've always said kind of thing. One of the building user experience design, the user story, mapping the user journeys, all that kind of stuff. Like they were probably there digitally yeah. Agencies out there that are infinitely better than us at that we could work with consultants and help them understand.

Why do we take that approach? Mostly because it really age is stakeholders, particularly, developers and then whoever else, if they can really graphically say. What they're going to get at the end, they really engage in it. Right. And then I, Oh, well, you know, could it do this or could we make this happen?

And then, I mean, just like you're going through on the course, it's all about building that set of requirements and then fitting the technology to it. Not that we need to start with, you know, Page is about, each lb MQTT and it shall be Jason and all this kind of stuff, because why, if that doesn't fit the use cases where it doesn't fit, how the space is going to be used, like why are we being that prescriptive about it?

So, yeah, we, we tread really carefully around consultancy and I think the other thing is we're seeing this kind of emergence of, master systems architect and master systems designer. I mean, in my opinion, they're just terms that aren't required, like consultants need to skill up on this stuff and then they just need to keep doing what they're great at.

I think there are some more tools they can put in their toolkit. I think we're open to helping people do that because as far as we're concerned, the more people that can, develop experiences and describe them to clients. Well, actually that engaging them. And we've been on projects where you turn around to the client, you like, so, um, have you read the specification?

And then I'm like, no, why would I read a 200 page technical document? And then you like, so do you know what you're getting? And they were like, Oh no, you, but you know, we just trust the consultants are going to give us what we need. And then you can get to the end of some projects and clients will stand there and be like, what on earth is this this isn't what we talked about or what we asked for.

And then you're in this really awkward position of, but it's what they told us to build. And so I think, again, this comes back to that kind of, coopertition the collaboration, like the lines are blurry and I think particularly around. Where we pick up and consultant, this would stop. I mean, typically consultants are not interested being in a construction site, making tech work together.

I think they would, all of them would sit there and go, you know, not for us. Yeah. but I think The more overlap there is the more the end result can be, because I mean, there's, there's so much context in, design meetings and decisions that get taken and, understanding that you just can't transfer even in a 200 page document.

Like you'll never get that kind of stuff across to people. So, yeah, it's, it's blurry, but we are 100% not being traditional consultants. No, you're a consultative contractor

James Dice: [00:45:37] and you come in after the design firm. Well, you come in, you would love to overlap with the design firm. before they're done producing this fact, maybe you have some influence on it, but you're not trying to get into that role as what I'm, what I'm

Mike Brooman: [00:45:51] hearing.

Yeah, I think that's it. That's a great description. And probably one I might start with. Um, thanks. but so yeah, I think we don't want to, we certainly don't want to eat their lunch, but it is about providing that technical specialism. And also because this market is moving so quickly and we are really doing things that are different on the ground.

We want to feed that back into that cycle as quickly as possible because well, If we take it to a super macro level, well, there's literally on fire and there are not enough people trying to make buildings more efficient right now. So either we all start working together or basically we're screwed.

James Dice: [00:46:31] Yeah, totally agree. And I try to go on a run this morning and, uh,

Mike Brooman: [00:46:35] my neighborhood's

James Dice: [00:46:36] full smoke, so that's awesome. Um, Oh yeah. so I think I'm also hearing is that you guys are kind of side by side with the commissioning agent as well. So ideally most. Projects would have some sort of commissioning agent that, is responsible for controls and mechanical and that type of, nerdiness, like making those systems work and you guys are basically saying  we'll handle the, the OT, it like making the technology work.

Uh, is that a good way to understand

Mike Brooman: [00:47:04] it? Yeah, that's fair to say. And I think the, um, checking part is quite difficult at the moment. And again, I haven't appreciated. Kind of BMS as we'd refer to it. He'll be honest with you guys in that world, that there was even that role. And I understand that on quite a bit, it's common for the people who are actually installing it to kind of then go like hands off.

And it literally gets passed to commissioning people that come in and do it. And I don't understand all the reasons for that, but it sounds like it wasn't in a good place and that makes it in a better place. So, Yeah, I guess, I mean, in terms of working alongside those people, like yeah. But from our perspective, as soon as we can get a kind of integration report out of another system, that's really when we pick up.

So as long as everything's been commissioned correctly and it's all labeled right. when not looking well, it goes back to that, especially I'm saying, you know, in terms of thermal loads in rooms and time that we should allow for kind of ramp up and cool down and all that kind of thing, it's just, it's not our world.

And, we need those specialists to understand that because if they're not there, can't pick it up. We can't do that word. Got it. Um, it's more collaboration and it is working alongside them and just doing the right things.

James Dice: [00:48:25] So, okay. So this, next question might be a little bit of a transition into our next topic.

Um,  so you're talking about holistic thinking around the user experience and all the systems talking to each other, but I feel like what's still missing. And this is where I think a lot of people in this audience know that this hole is there, which is like this, holistic data model.

But now that we've connected all these systems together. So you mentioned the integration, like you need some sort of integration report. Well, Well, I think is missing. There is that, you know, this VAV box over here is in this room and that served by this sliding panel. And, you know, it's this tenant and all of those things are all connected.

Yes. All the data's flowing and whatever, but where does the holistic data model sit that connects all of these databases and all of this communication together in your mind?

Mike Brooman: [00:49:17] In my mind, in my mind, that's the $64 million question, I think. So this is where there's a lot of complexity. Right.

And I think this is also, a really natural thing with how buildings go together and also how they're used. So the

James Dice: [00:49:36] problem,

Mike Brooman: [00:49:38] right? Yeah, I think so. No, I think, it's also. I mean, honestly, I think it's unrealistic to think that we will solve a complete common data model from, you know, spade going in the ground  systems going into a building and then, you know, moving into operation.

And I'll give you the example as to why. So, Let's say we're on some wonderful project. It's been fully designed in BIM. Everyone's working in 3d footy, federated model, live collaboration around it all gets  every space in that model will have an architectural name and that architectural name will normally be something that's about the sequence of the spaces.

So it will be room one room to room three and they normally use. That's a referencing the, that, but it's that kind of order. So, you know, however that works and normally references floors and that kind of thing. If we then look forwards, I mean, and they can go through lots of it. Yeah. Right. And we've been on projects where you can have four different names for the same thing, physical space.

And then by the time you have a tenant, maybe then the tenant wants to call that meeting rooms after Greek gods or whatever. And suddenly, you know, what was our one dot 14 down here? It's now called Zeus. you know, there's no connection between those, but there's also zero way that the architect would have gone would be great.

James Dice: [00:51:04] exactly.

Mike Brooman: [00:51:06] And so I think what we need to move towards, and this is part of the, problems that we're trying to solve is we need to allow for those references to exist in those multiple ways and make the connections between them now. Databases have been doing this for a long time with look-ups and that kind of thing.

But think it's, the ability to make that clear and the ability to expose things to people. So. And this is thinking quite far forward now, but wouldn't it be amazing if as a tenant moved in, they got some kind of questionnaire going, okay, what are you? And actually that then all got fed back through.

So yeah, if there was someone from FM. They could go, Oh, you mean all one 14, but you call it Zeus. And so I think we need to get into this space of, acknowledging the complexity. I don't know, just kind of embracing it and really getting our arms around it because it doesn't feel like we can get rid of it.

And I think this whole kind of  there has to be one thing that represents the building. You know, could we get them to a stage where operationally, it also has those names in? Well, yeah, probably, but actually them as a technology also isn't there yet. We still, you know, when we work on projects at the moment, it's very common that we submit our changes in bed to someone who then goes away and works for a week and comes back with a federated model and a class report.

So. we are not at the stage yet where this model is existing, right from the beginning of the project. And then it gets more and more difficult, which means it gets more and more expensive, which means less and less people want to do it as we move through the project. And so you get that kind of natural disconnect that happens.

But it's about how can we use either ontologies in terms of a, you know, brick haystack or whatever else to, properly describe this stuff. But what we'll say then how can we augment them? Because it might be the developers. Oh, well, the, operating company of the building. Really? What do you use haystack and break?

You might have then a tenant who moves in with their own facilities management. They've never heard of haystack and break and they want to go and call everything by something different. And so it has to be about this acknowledgement that different people need different stuff. And then how do we all move forward on that to kind of go like, and this is how it all looks.

So, it's also, complicated by the fact that we have a bunch of stuff that lives on site. And now we're also digital twinning. And so you then have two copies of exactly the same problem, one virtual and one physical. so yeah, I think, I mean, architects get there first, right?

So I think it makes sense to use that as the kind of base naming schema. but we have to acknowledge that those scheme has changed and also we could get to a point where. Buildings get bought and sold. Right? There are people that these like cars, there's assets, like they'll buy one, they'll sell one.

And actually, if someone else moves in and they on an a, I use Roman numerals rather than numbers to name their floors, the building should be able to respond to that. it shouldn't be locked into, you know, what an architect decided they dock 50 or 60 or a hundred years later or whatever it might be.

James Dice: [00:54:32] Well, let's use that as an example. So say building gets bought this conference room over here was named Zeus. now, I'm buying it and I want to name it after, you know, major league baseball teams or for in your case, uh, soccer teams in the UK.

so what's the state of the art today?

So like on a state of the art project, if that transaction happens, what I would want to happen, I think is that. Automatically when I change it to the same. And those Cardinals are arsenal. My favorite team that then repopulates all of the systems in the building and everyone now knows the truth, right?

So like what's the state of the art. And how does that actually work today?

Mike Brooman: [00:55:08] This is not just about

James Dice: [00:55:11] architectural names of rooms, right? This is about every aspect

Mike Brooman: [00:55:14] of

James Dice: [00:55:15] how these systems fit together.

Mike Brooman: [00:55:18] Yeah, I'll, I'll try not to Vegas too much on the, uh, on the daily. so genuinely, as far as I'm concerned right now in every project that we've ever been in the state of the art is if you're lucky, a cap drawn floor plan.

and someone will kind of submit that to the landlord as here's what's happened. it is not computerized and it is, as far as I'm aware, does not often bridge that kind of landlord tenant boundary. maybe a good reason to say, well, does it need to, because actually from a landlord perspective, you're going tenant.

That's your space. Hmm.

James Dice: [00:55:53] yeah, but I got to go, I got to go to the lighting control system, change them. And there, I got to go to the BAS changed the name in there. I got to go to the, like you said, the analytics overlay in the cloud. I gotta change the name in there. I got to go to my digital twin company and I got to change the name in there.

I got to go to the access control or the elevator, or

Mike Brooman: [00:56:11] I gotta go to all these

James Dice: [00:56:12] systems and I got 'em now change the name to arsenal. From zoos.

Mike Brooman: [00:56:16] Yeah. That's what, that's what I'm talking about with

James Dice: [00:56:19] the data model. Right? So

Mike Brooman: [00:56:20] in

James Dice: [00:56:20] my mind, we have to have some sort of like centralized system. That's keeping track of the fact that it was called Zeus and now it's called arsenal.

And what you're saying is like, we need somebody to translate like a Dakota ring that translates all of these data models into one common. I got this for everybody type of model.

Mike Brooman: [00:56:40] Yeah, I think, with the additional added complexity. So, I mean, let's take your example of a tenant floor, right? we could go five, 10 years with the same tenant and Z.

The next tenant could come in and not only want to change these to your major league baseball team Cardinals. But also then take the partition out between Zeeshan on the amount of Greek gods. so you're then changing the space can figuration. And I think that's where, we see the stage that we should get to is kind of buildings and software.

And I think well, in my opinion, at an off the top of my head right now, late in the evening in the UK, the best shot at that is Ben. Because it is designed to model this physical spaces and hold this information within the asset and the ability with it in BIM to also essentially check out a space.

So you can literally go, right. I'm going to take this whole floor out. I do my out and put all the services in it. And then I'm going to slot it back into your model. That already exists in that technology. Right. It's just, we don't do it at the moment. And we also don't host them models as kind of living things.

And so you'll quite often find that on the handover project from the main contractor, or they may have all been specified as, you know, must be BIM and all that kind of stuff is very rarely then. you used actively in, operation, it's getting better, but it's also often handed over is here's your BIM file.

It's not, Oh, it's on this side and you need to move it to yours so you can continue to hosting of it. And I think we're also seeing this in terms of, yeah, they've um, even the, kind of devices that are going into buildings. One of the roles that's being kind of pushed onto us is maintaining this inventory of.

All of the equipment that's going into the building and that was down. So, you know, Mac addresses, serial numbers, what the devices are, who makes them all that kind of stuff, which is fine, but it's also a completely separate dataset to the model and everything else that goes on. So yeah, I think it's going to be a real kind of slow iterative slog through it, but Yeah. I mean, in my opinion, the whole idea of building information modeling is that that's what we do. We model the information and we make it about the space. And if we could ever get to it, the point of being able to,  update live information into a BIM model so that owners facilities, managers could move around it and actually see those venues in real time.

There's a lot of conceptual stuff out there. I'm sure there's some people that have done it, but. Is it widely adopted and do people know it even exists? I would say not at the moment. I

James Dice: [00:59:31] think there's a few digital twin companies out there that would like to say that they have this solved. and I think it's definitely one of the value propositions of the digital twin, to sort of, I call it static data, keep all that static data.

Just extremely well up to date and organized and contextually integrated with all the other data in the building.

Mike Brooman: [00:59:49] A hundred percent

James Dice: [00:59:50] fascinating. Alright. let's move on to our final, topic here. So

Mike Brooman: [00:59:54] I want to talk about smart

James Dice: [00:59:56] core.

Mike Brooman: [00:59:56] so you mentioned,

James Dice: [00:59:57] you liked to recruit people for vanity that likes to solve big, hairy problems.

And I think that this is one of those big hearing problems. So. What is smart core. Let's just start there. can you just describe it to us?

Mike Brooman: [01:00:10] Sure. So smart core is a distributed building operating system. And what we mean by that is it works a lot, like kind of macro S a windows in that it provides a layer on which you can then run other applications to interact with the rest of the building.

And. Honestly, I think it has not only been through multiple iterations since it was a kind of twinkle in our eye about four years ago. but Oh, so it really changed in scope as well. So we originally started looking at being able to go all the way from kind of that field or area controller level through supervisory, and then also out to kind of analytics and cloud.

But I think. One of the things that, we've really, we looked at a lot, certainly in the last, probably 12, 18 months since we did the, full rewrite can maybe touch on that in a minute. it just didn't make any sense for us to be trying to pursue things that actually lots of SAS companies and are pursuing in terms of yeah.

running portfolios at that kind of. A higher level outside of the building, then the, actually the space that we were really operating in was that experiential within the four walls. So we've really kind of condensed that right down now. And also we're, well, in some talks with, and are interested in further conversations with anyone who is at that the SAS layer, because at the moment.

It seems every single one of them is solving the same set of problems, which is trying to develop drivers for all these years, connecting with

James Dice: [01:01:49] systems that are at the edge.

Mike Brooman: [01:01:51] Yeah, exactly. And so. Oh, kind of goal is to get to a set of tools and technologies and patterns that we will ultimately release open source to the world under the creative commons license that allow people to pick those up and integrate technology through construction and fit out programs to then deliver something that ultimately allows someone with a SAS program to come and plug it comes in via an API.

Now. In terms of that.

James Dice: [01:02:24] And would that solve the problem we were just talking about for that SAS company? So I changed my conference room name and they're still plugged into the API. And now the API just changes when you make that change locally

Mike Brooman: [01:02:37] in the U S it's

James Dice: [01:02:39] kind of like with an iPhone, like if I change my contacts in one app, And, then I want to share my notes in my notes app with that same contact that I just added that's already that contextual awareness is, there cross across the platform?

Mike Brooman: [01:02:52] Yeah. So naming is something that we definitely consider as something that we should be trying to solve in a, very consistent way. And at the moment, a lot of the focus is, yeah, I'm translating out to the ontologies just because of some of the technologies that we've chosen, don't lend themselves natively to that.

But that's also a kind of very conscious choice that we've made because we think the ontologies are. Stealing quite early days, they're still kind of developing themselves. And ultimately we want to  come alongside and bringing them in a bit later on.

James Dice: [01:03:25] so you said one of the things on LinkedIn that I pulled was you said RPC is exactly what we found lacking and the motivation behind the project.

So can you explain what RPC is and why it's lacking?

Mike Brooman: [01:03:39] So, yeah, this is probably getting into a bit kind of top of map territory, but I'll do my best though. Probably crucify me after this. So RBC is the ability to say to something, please, can you go away and do this and then nothing to go and do its thing and then come back and go, cool.

I've done it. And sometimes it will say I've done it and here's the result. Hmm. Okay. So in terms of that, it means it's very reliable. So from a country. Paul's perspective. And also from a user experience perspective, which is, we told them we're really keen on, what we want to make sure of is push a button and they're expecting something to happen.

Not only can we give them some feedback that that thing might be taking some time, but then when we get a response, we can go, cool. It's done. Okay. The problem that we have when we start using, protocols, it's more designed for like telemetry or publish and subscribe approaches is it can be, overly burdensome in terms of the number of cycles that you need to go through in terms of.

I want this thing to happen, but then you don't get anything back to say that has happened. So then you have it, have to go back again and go, has it happened yet? No, it just doesn't happen as it happened yet. And throughout that whole time, it's a bit like the difference in it between kind of TCP and UDP TCP is kind of like, hi, how are you?

Yeah, I'm fine with it. Whereas UDP is just be kind of shouting at you. And hoping that you're receiving it, but there's just, there's nothing that comes back the other way. So you was. it's not the absolute kind of foundation of what we're doing, what we do didn't want to create with something that was just based around the publish and subscribe, because it didn't feel like that lends itself best to all of the possible use cases.

And also bear in mind. What we're trying to achieve with this ultimately is something that can provide, really consistent experiences. Within a building using what are often inconsistent, some technologies. And it doesn't matter  whether you speak to, people that run on coworking spaces or so people who manage large portfolios.

there is yet to be anyone that I found that I've spoken to in that space that can confidently go. Yeah, we use all of the same technology in all of our buildings. It just doesn't happen because of the fragmentation. And when you've got people like that kind of big four accountancy that I mentioned earlier who have their own kind of workplace app.

Well, that is a really consistent experience and they want their people to be able to fly to another office in. Yeah, Amsterdam or Madrid or wherever, and when they land go cool. I can use my workplace app to interact with this building exactly the same way as I do it in London. And so that's the overall on the purpose of this.

And also then from a kind of building owner perspective. if you're in that room world of kind of trading buildings as assets, You also want the confidence that you can kind of peel off anything that is operational and stick something on that could be something different. that's where I think with the SAS providers of the world, it really is going to take a bit of a kind of leap of faith there because what we're essentially asking them is come on this journey with us.

We think we've got a great idea as to how this can work. You can all benefit. But actually you're all going to benefit from this thing being here. And so there are going to be a lot of people who are just like, this is totally bonkers, not in a million years, we're just going to do this ourselves. But this is where it's important that we start acknowledging that it's not just about, the stuff that's sitting out in the cloud is also about the experience of the people who turn up and actually have to interact with this stuff on a day to day basis.

It is about the people who have to go around that building and maintain it and clean it and look after it, they also need an experience of their own. I know the thing that I liken it to is, you know, there is no one who operates or runs a building when they're showing someone around their new space, you know, they, they're getting really excited.

You know, they look great lobby area, all that kind of stuff moving through and the gaps were floor or they're like, Oh, hang on sec. I'll just pop a riser. Look at my cup of piping. Like that's some pretty cool cup of piping, right? Like no one does that because we take piping for granted and it's standardized.

And so this plays into that kind of an, I think you've been using the language a lot of kind of overlay technologies. And that's really what this is. it's a lightweight framework, but it's also using some of the kind of thinking that Google and Apple have done a lot in the residential space. So how do we define things as traits?

So how do we define the device has brightness, if it's a light, how do we define it as having temperature? If it's, you know, a thermostat or it's. Uh, uncle unit or whatever, and then what it also gives you. And this is really important from the skills perspective is rather than as being down at these kind of obscure point names then blow this open to a whole world of developers who can go, Oh, This relates to an actual thing that I can see in real life.

Oh. And I can see it in a digital twin. Oh. And now we can talk about it as all the same thing. Oh. And actually I can write some code again so I can improve my building on my own.   uh, I did get accused the other day of this being some Massively audacious thing. And I think there was someone that actually referenced it in the comments as well.

Yeah. Why are you bothering, I've had comments previously about this sounds like a lot of effort. what's the point kind of thing, but I think when you've got so many stakeholders and people that interact with something like a building who are all frustrated with how it works. Why wouldn't we try and pursue this and make it better?

Oh yeah. And the reason that we chosen to take the open source approach is we acknowledged as a group of people quite a while ago, that the number of buildings that we can physically touch and actually make a difference to in our lifetime. Was not going to be very many because project cycles along our typical engagements, uh, between three months on the short end, but going up to kind of a year, most of the time.

And so, realistically, even if we had the biggest fire hose of money in the world, even if you go out and hire people that are over where we're still not going to be able to. make enough of a change. And that's where we just decided, well, if other people like what we do and they want to come along for the journey, then great Hopefully we can make something of it hatefully in, hyping, even in life, like a year or two years time, let alone five or 10, you know, they will be a an ecosystem around this and there will be a bunch of people winning because they've actually implemented this in the buildings, but let's see.

James Dice: [01:10:33] Let me see if I can answer the why bother question about this. so I saw several comments on LinkedIn about, you know, why would you try this? This is too big, too hairy, too messy. And let me sort of describe what I see as like, why, so let's say you have a building right now, or maybe even a portfolio.

Cross that portfolio, you have things like the comfy app, right? Where, you know, you're installing comfy and the company engineering, smart people are coming in and integrating with the HVAC systems so that the tenant can control their personal set point in their office. Right. So that integration is happening.

And then over here, the building great, really wants fault detection. And so they go out and they say, Hey, really would like to implement copper tree analytics. And so copper tree analytics comes in and they're really smart engineers. You know what they do, they go ahead and they integrate with the HR system.

And this is just one use case. Right. And just, there are two use cases, right?

Mike Brooman: [01:11:29] Two types of integration

James Dice: [01:11:30] that are basically redundant in my opinion. Right? So you're, saying

Mike Brooman: [01:11:34] I'm going talk to the HVAC system and

James Dice: [01:11:37] then I'm going to create a data model for that HVAC system that is customized for my application.

Right. And

Mike Brooman: [01:11:44] I

James Dice: [01:11:44] think what you're describing is that, okay, what if we just all decided, and those comfy engineers and the copper tree engineers, what if they all decided that, Hey, we're actually all just going to integrate like this, and then we're going to contribute to an open source project that makes that integration process better and better and better.

And you know what, the next time someone sets up comfy on the other side of the world, they can now use. That integration process and this sort of ties and the conversation with Andrew a few weeks ago. So where we don't have these projects and buildings that are like this, we have projects like project haystack and things like that, where people are, are coming together, but we have, I think the terminology he used was.

people are building, like putting bricks together over here, and then people are basically reinventing how they're going to do that brick over there. And we haven't decided that Hey,

Mike Brooman: [01:12:32] once we do that brick,

James Dice: [01:12:33] we're just going to reuse that code over again. Basically. I think what people are missing when they say why bother is that there's so much.

Savings with the integration process. But also if we all decided we were going to  do it together. Yeah. We would also unlock new use cases.

Mike Brooman: [01:12:50] Right. So simply. What

James Dice: [01:12:52] if copper tree and comfy now could then say, okay, when comfy is installed, copper tree is gonna unlock these new FTD analytics and vice versa.

Right? And I think that's what we're missing is , we're all spending so much time on integration and , doing the same shit differently that we're

Mike Brooman: [01:13:09] not

James Dice: [01:13:10] able to get to those new use cases that then move the industry forward. So that's my rant of the day.

Mike Brooman: [01:13:16] Am I on the right track?

There? A 100%. So I think, and actually I meant to touch on this earlier because, we were very, very close to becoming a Tridium house. And actually, the reason that we didn't go down the microbrewery was. We couldn't shift their code into a standard development environment. And it was all developers, biggest bugbear with things like it was net links with Amex.

So I mentioned, or simply in Crestron there just isn't that, understanding. Of the development life cycles that are used in kind of more enterprise it approaches and this plays into, you know, even just interacting with, get to store your code and stuff like that. And so what we wanted as an integrator was the ability to do this quickly.

And that was so much. Stuff that I sat through when you and Andrew were talking. And I was just like, I cannot believe that someone who sat on the other side of the world is also talking about Lego bricks for how we kind of pull all this stuff together. But that's exactly. Yeah. And it's the way that we view it is.

There is no point having all of these integrators, expanding all of this energy when actually there's an actual bonfire of the planet occurring. And actually we just all need to kind of crack on and make stuff better. And I think the other thing that is really important that we decided quite early was.

Whilst the, code base for smart core will be in there, the creative commons and the license that we've chosen is Sharon. Like, so that means if you take it and you change it, you have to release it under the same terms. Hmm. Well, what we didn't want to do was restrict people in a way that meant we couldn't have proprietary staff coming interact with.

That Holy case system. And actually, I think it's probably something that's going to be actively encouraged. And I think, you know, pretty, and we've done a phenomenal job in terms of their marketplace. But it's still at the stage where you're still paying for licenses. the example I was going to, I don't know why.

I think it's an image. I picked out in a presentation a long time ago, but if we had someone in the world say a town hall in Guatemala that suddenly wanted to automate their heating and lighting and make it events based around a Google calendar, we want them to be able to go and pick up smart core, use all the bricks that have been opened by the people.

And just get on with making that town hall, the most optimal place it can be. And the idea is eventually we will have a community edition that is like that. And then if people want enterprise support, then that will be something that they could pay for. But we also think there's a really good chance that smart or we'll just get to a stage of being an integration framework that people will just pick up and use because as we found in our most recent project, And I absolutely loved this cause.

what have I developed as Matt came back? Absolutely beaming. And he was like, not only did we use smart core, but actually it was the best way of achieving the integration between those systems. Because it was so quick, we built a load of stuff already and it just meant we could actually get on with delivering real value to the client who was ultimately going to be interacting with that experience.

So it's working yeah. 30 days. it is a very audacious play. Well, I think as you say, if we're actually all going to kind of come around, this is challenge. There are ample opportunities for people to make. Loads of money. There's 2.6 billion buildings in the world or whatever it is, you know, there's enough to go out here and ultimately there's a chronic skill shortage.

So if you want to come to the party and play let's, let's play love

James Dice: [01:17:07] that. Yeah. I love that. All right. So. I think my friend Corey is going to be mad at me if I don't shove some of these other questions that you, that he had on LinkedIn, some thanks your questions. We got to let Mike get to dinner at some point here, but let's throw these questions out.

So I think the only one that you haven't answered yet is we have all these other open source projects going on. So we mentioned haystack and brick. so Corey works on building  shout out to all the N Raelians, um, there's GPX ML, Citi, GML, IFC, and then shout out to Alper with Sedona and projects and star.

So you mentioned kind of developing alongside all of these other open source efforts. And so how does that interaction work with  those efforts?

Mike Brooman: [01:17:49] Yeah. So I think, if you look at, Linux as an EK system, like, there's one Linux kernel, but there's a bunch of you there's fedora that center us there's red hat, you know, they all coexist, but also I think it was really interesting cause we did have this, um, a little while ago when someone was kind of like, you know, you're, you're reinventing Voltaren.

I was really fortunate to, talk to Andrew the other week. And we talked a lot about the differences between what we were doing and where we actually ended up was, Oh, it's been quite sweet fit because actually Voltron's entirely focused on energy and grid and load shedding and luck on stuff that isn't what smart core is designed to do.

And so this is also where we get into as well as that kind of commercial. Coopertition actually there's. Quite a lot of just collaboration that's possible within no consoles, just because it's another open source project. It doesn't mean it's going to, you know, subsume or consume or, push it out.

How others could there be some overlaps. Sure. But actually a lot of what we talked about was because smart core is so focused on the experience. It's so focused on the kind of in-building staff, the actually connection into stuff like Voltron, which doesn't really have much in the way of interfaces or things that really are applying, facing, and actually smart code could be used as a way to get that data out to people or to perform control time different architectures.

It might be for some settings. It works best and there's no need for something like spark or I'm sure that will project where Voltron in terms of its focus on power and everything else makes all the sense in the world. And so smart. Cool. We're getting nowhere near it. So I think everything you say sufficiently knew that everyone is still fine, their feet.

I think that's where, I've really kind of bought into the honesty and integrity of, of you and nexus in Safaria is. You're very open about this is a learning journey for you, but I think we need more people to come of and of acknowledged they're also on the learning journey. And I think, yeah, Andrea, his whole thing about the kind of fog of war and the big, full market machine kind of pumping all this stuff out.

I genuinely think, I mean, I've seen some collateral again from the big four player that I actually mentioned earlier. that says they have a million smart buildings worldwide. And I was just like, where are they? Just, everyone keeps talking about the edge, which is a great building, but turning up to the smart building conference every year.

And still talking about the edge makes me think there are not a million smart buildings in the world yet. So they, I think the more that we can get through a stage of all engaging this kind of learning mentality and that we're all on the journey. And actually, yeah, maybe there will be some overlap and maybe we will need a difficult conversation about you treading on my toes.

But actually, as we've already said, there is so much to go out here so much. That actually, we just really need people to kind of get on board with stuff, get learning, and get doing. Like we cannot keep building buildings like we're doing, it's just madness. Absolute madness. A hundred

James Dice: [01:21:06] percent agree.

So how can people get involved in smart

Mike Brooman: [01:21:09] core foundation? So we are early, early days. we are due to be pushing out an API. I'm going to say this month, I'll get shot by Tom and Matt, some more broadly and Ben and the rest of the team. basically if you want to get involved, www  smart hyphen core.tech, have a read of the page. There's a form down the bottom. It asks you who you are.

If you want to contribute, hit that button, give us your details and we'll be in touch. We would love to hear from anyone who wants to get on board. We have spent a lot of money getting this far, we've made a huge number of mistakes. We've gone from spaghetti where configurations to centralize configurations to now fully distributed.

We've rewritten the whole thing from Java and to go, it's been quite a journey, but we've  got to the point now where we've really acknowledged. We need those other lenses on this now to go and contribute to making this something that is properly holistic, because we don't know, I didn't want to be in the position of some of the ontologies, which are so heavily rooted in BAS it makes them difficult to shift into.

Access control. It'll be a visual, you know, whatever. So yeah, we, need those different lenses. Otherwise were not going to get it right on our own. And we know that.

James Dice: [01:22:32] Yeah. And, and I'm, I'm one of those people that's filled out the form and, happy to be involved, and help out. However I can. I think it's such a perfect fit for nexus.

As well as just  you know, this is why nexus was created as to help out with things like this. So thanks so much, Mike. We'll have to let you, uh, it's what, eight o'clock something like that in

Mike Brooman: [01:22:51] the UK. So

James Dice: [01:22:53] let me get to dinner and, uh, thanks for coming on the show.

Mike Brooman: [01:22:58] Thanks so much for having me.

James Dice: [01:22:59] Alright, friends. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Nexus podcast. For more episodes like this and to get the weekly Nexus newsletter, please subscribe at nexus.substack.com. You can find the show notes for this conversation there as well. As always, please reach out on LinkedIn with any thoughts on this episode.

I'd love to hear from you. Have a great day

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