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Building Operating Management

Bridging The Gap Between IT and FM

Third of a three-part article on how building product manufacturers and tech giants are collaborating on the Building Internet of Things.
At the mindSHIFT Technologies cloud mounting services facility on Long Island, N.Y., an LED lighting system with IT integration helps save energy while offering additional intelligence benefits. The lights, light switches, and dimmers operate with a standards-based PoE-powered network in the ceiling. Tim Evans/Saturn Lounge Photography

By Edward Sullivan, Editor September 2016 - Building Automation   Article Use Policy

Cooperation between IT and OT — operating technology like building systems — can’t stop at the vendor level if the Building IoT is to take hold. Within many organizations that own buildings, there has often been a gulf between FM and IT.

“The buildings people themselves have tended in many ways to shy away from IT,” says Aaron Lapsley of Switch Automation. “If the IT group wasn’t engaged, then typically they’ve just been an impediment in getting things done on a day-to-day basis.”

According to many industry sources, the IT side is ready to change. In fact, IT may even feel a need to change. That’s partly because some bread-and-butter IT functions, like setting up PCs or servers, are becoming commoditized, says Jason Shepard of Dell. “Not to trivialize what they do — it’s very complex — but it’s becoming more of a commodity.” The result is that IT departments that used to take a not-my-job attitude toward buildings are rethinking that mindset. “Now they’re saying, hey, I need to turn my IT department from a cost center to a profit center, so that I maintain relevance and I’m bringing something to the business,” he says. In other words, they’re looking to reinvent themselves. “The way to reinvent yourself is to bring yourself into the digital transformation arena,” Shepard says.

The Building IoT is really just a way of referring to the digitization of the building. “Yes, there is sometimes some friction” between FM and IT as they begin to work together, says John Baekelmans of Cisco. “But the IT folks know it’s going to happen with or without them.”





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