šŸŽ§ #001: Nicolas Waern on the three stages of smart building technology

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So, again, going back to who are we doing this for?

It's people.

ā€”Nicolas Waern

Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter and podcast for smart people applying smart building technologyā€”hosted by James Dice.

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

If you have thoughts, questions, ideas, or tips: hit reply, Iā€™d love your feedback!

Housekeeping: As this is episode 1, it will take a few weeks (I think) to get approved and pushed to Apple podcasts and other platforms, so please sit tight.

Music credit: The Garden State by Audiobinger

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the following text and on the Nexus website belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer or any other group or individual.


Episode summary

Episode 001 is an introductory conversation with Nicolas Waern, CEO of smart building consulting firm WINNIIO. In another day and age, Nicolas and I would have never met, but here we were... me in Denver and Nicholas in Sweden becoming fast friends. I guess that's the amazing power of the internet.

I want to thank Nicolas for getting the podcast started. I was totally procrastinating and coming up with all kinds of excuses (ā€œI hate hearing my voiceā€, ā€œI donā€™t know sh*t about audio recordingā€, etc) and he wouldn't let me. So thank you, Nicolas.

That being said, there are some technical details Iā€™m still learning. So please excuse the audio quality hiccups, my stuttering, and the like.

This is a fun conversation that is less of an interview and more of just a first encounter between two dudes trying to help change an industry. Hereā€™s a summary:

  1. How we found ourselves in the world of smart buildings in the first place. It turns out we both started as crazy young treehuggers just trying to save the world.

  2. Nicolas shares an interesting model, featuring three stages of smart building technology and where he thinks some newcomers fit in that model.

  3. Nicolas name drops about 20 companies he's excited aboutā€”I was taking notes like a madman.

Scroll down for the companies and links mentioned and my top highlights of the episode. For a full transcript, see the Nexus site.

You can find Nicolas on LinkedIn and as a contributing editor for Automated Buildings. His company WINNIIO can be found at winniio.io.

Enjoy!


Mentions and Links

  1. Terry Herr of Intellimation

  2. Automated Buildings and Ken Sinclair

  3. Captain Planet

  4. SkySpark

  5. Troy Harvey and Passive Logic (see Nexus newsletter #14 for my take on them)

  6. Dave Lapsley of Econowise, creator of Sentinll and Bubll

  7. SWEGON

  8. Go-IoT

  9. Zynka BIM / Zynka Group

  10. Phillip Kopp of Conectric

  11. Wired Hut

  12. Hub API systems

  13. Platform of Trust

  14. Stream Analyze

  15. Ekkono

  16. Brad Whiteā€™s classic article on the 3/30/300 rule

  17. Clayton Christenson and the Jobs To Be Done framework

  18. My essay on Digital Twins and the 2 main jobs to be done


Top Highlights

1. What influence has Ken Sinclair had on you?

Just going back reading stuff, like 20 years ago, and I think it's maybe it's the same for you like we think we're innovative, new thinkers, all these kind of things. But then you go back 20 years and these guys are saying the same things. I'm sort of blushing, because I'm so like, ashamed of, like, my early thoughts like, Why is no one ever thought about this? Right? Wrong. Like everyone has thought about it. A lot of people have tried it. So you can see in that text is exactly the same passion that I have. I mean, I really want this industry to change because I see a lot of potential, but I was really wrong thinking that I'm the only one, which is good, and definitely not the first one. So I think that's sort of like definitely a humbling experience.

2. Nicolasā€™ take on Passive Logic and his three stages model:

I'm really in favor of their products. I mean, I invited him here to talk to Zynka BIM and SWEGON production for instance assembly and and some other, like local regional players here in Gothenburg in Sweden, so he was here and he helped me move a couch as well.

So like he was on from nine to one and it was just talking about you all everything that they're doing. And like I could just, I mean, from time to time during that day, I was just looking at the other so like players and attendees there was some actually competitors. And they were just staring right like deer in the headlight, because it was some of this is almost too hard to believe, for those for existing players because it's so far off to how it's being done in the industry.

So for me, it's just like taking what the world the best things the world has to offer, put them in, you know, in a package using a drag and drop user interface, so absolutely marvelous user interaction, and making it fantastic piece of technology for installers.

But it donā€™t think itā€™s disruption, more like extreme evolution. Our session at the AHR Expo in Orlando was all about open like open standards interoperability that is the future and all these kind of things. So and I think what Troy and them are doing, I think it's more like Apple in the sense that they have a really nice looking product. Fantastic. Great piece of technology. Flawlessā€¦ However, I don't think it's disruptive in the sense that it's so so for me. I

I have three stages, right? So one is for, like the legacy technology use a lot of wired, a lot of vendor lock in proprietary systems. I mean, basically where we are today with old technology, right? Yeah, PID loop, sequencing, these kind of things. And then you take the next level, which is basically Passive Logic's stuff. So cutting edge technology, AI machine learning, deep digital twin, as he likes to put it, really disrupting the technology side of things, or taking in what the world has to offer in a box, right. But at the same time, you're still I mean, you still have to use their stuff. You still have to use their system in order to drag and drop and it's still part of their offering. Again, like if you look at the jobs to be done something for people something for real estate owners, perfect it fits the bill. But in terms of taking the industry to the next level. I said that's where I in terms of if you go if you so I have three levels. One is legacy technology. All in a box old technology, right. And here we have new technology but it's still in a box and you have to use their... sort of like it's some kind of vendor lock in, at least with proprietary systems.

The third level is you have products that are open, open source or whatever. And basically, if you go into the building, it's just an API. Okay? And then you just select whatever you want to do from the top you can have whatever software you want to run, it's basically gonna be like, okay, let's install this. Okay, let's install this from Troy. Let's say, Yeah, and I pump it down and make to use it, I'll let's install it. And I can use this stuff from James, or from Siemens, or from Schneider or from this tech or from some BMS suite or whatever, it doesn't really matter.

3. On two emerging smart building platform paradigms, similar to Apple and Android

James:

I do like the analogy of Apple and Android. I really think, you know, you could talk about the similarities between passive logic and Tesla, like I did, but really they're creating the the iPhone of buildings, essentially, which is something that that we do need.

I think one thing that that Troy's opened my eyes to is these two separate narratives that we have going on, and I think maybe you're hitting on those two narratives as you're talking about this, but the first narrative is what I would call like the overlay narrativeā€¦ where you have and this is kind of what Troy saying we we need to replace but you have old, old old technology as your controllers, right? And then we're adding all this intelligence to kind of make up for the shortcomings of the old technology. Right? So that's where you have analytics software, sitting on top of and integrating with the old technology - pulling the data, but also sending commands. That would be the overlay paradigm, I guess.

And what Troy saying is no, all of those platforms, all of those solutions are making up for the shortcomings that we can actually just remove from the whole equation by starting at the edge with intelligence.

Nicolas:

I definitely agree. And I mean, there's only I guess, so much you can do with technology that came into existence 20 years ago, using technology based on like 50 years ago. And I think that's definitely what he's saying as well like going in and ripping everything out. And the thing I know that Philip Kopp from Conectric is also the same mindset that just like, I mean, forget about it. I mean, just just rip it out.

James:

My thought is that weā€™re always going to have these two paradigms, right? Troy's coming in with this new paradigm, but we were gonna have both for the long term foreseeable future, right? There are so many building owners out there that just made a big upgrade yesterday, right? And then thereā€™s all the people that have made them in the last 15 years that don't have the capital to replace all that hardware, wiring, like, they just don't. There are millions of buildings out there that are like that. So these paradigms are gonna coexist.

4. On the Vitruvian architectural virtues and how they apply to smart building tech, too

Why do buildings exist? I love the old Vitruvian sayingā€¦ buildings are just three things right? One is robust enough In the sense that it has to pass the test of time it. Two is useful. It has to be useful for the tenants or whoever is in there, it has to be fit for purpose, a hospital, a school, office building, whatever. And the third one is attractive. And that's something I definitely think is missing. So, for me, robust, useful and attractive is the goal.

And the funny thing is here. Well, the interesting thing is, is that if a building is also a system, I guess, and a system is made up of all these different parts, right? If you have to have the buildings is going to be robust, useful and attractive. Inherently you have to use products that are robust, useful and attractive. So and I would say like products today in the industry, if you go back to the first brackets, or maybe robust, sort of useful in a way, not attractive in the slightest not For the users, and I think that's exactly what Troy wanted to change. He wanted to put a fantastic piece of technology into the hands of the installer. That is robust. It's useful, and it's attractive. And I think that's the first one that I've seen.

So, again, going back to who are we doing this for? It's people.


Full Transcript

James Dice  3:10  

First, before we get started, I want to say thanks. I think I started writing in November. And like, day one, you, you were reading it, sharing it. I started getting LinkedIn requests from people from Sweden, that I can't even I can't even read the language they're writing in but I just want to say thanks for my stuff and embracing my ideas.

Nicolas Waern  3:39  

No, it's really good stuff. I mean, I think like, I tried to I wanted to do the same thing as in having a newsletter all this kind of stuff, but I mean, yeah, if you don't start with it, you're never gonna start right. I mean, it's the same with this podcast video thing. I mean, that we're trying on right now. I mean, it's so easy to say that you're going to do it but if you don't just think Nothing's gonna happen.

James Dice  4:02  

And if you wouldn't have messaged me last week, I don't know how many weeks in the future, this podcast will actually start. But thanks for that to give me a nudge.

Nicolas Waern  4:13  

Yeah, absolutely.

James Dice  4:15  

Cool. So I think I just wanted to, to, again, structure this like an intro. I mean, I think I know a lot about you already from our connections online. But why don't you just sort of introduce yourself? Give me your background. And then I think where I want to go to this is like, how did you get in to the smart buildings industry? And yeah, what made you make that switch?

Nicolas Waern  4:39  

Absolutely. I mean, I think it's a it's a pretty good story. And the way it started was, I mean, I was I started studying when I was 25, which is quite, I mean, I was feeling a lot older than everyone else. And I was a bit older than everyone else at the time as well. And I've been having like these odd jobs, so Sales Manager working with logistics in the UK for a year. Working at a golf course was a fantastic job actually. But then I decided, I mean, I saw a lot of my friends getting like these careers in banking and all these kind of things, right. So I studied International Management in Yon shopping in Sweden. And I did it mainly because I got to be abroad for one year. So which means the national management was busy learn a lot about everything. And so we end up with basically no real understanding of anything at all. But for me, it was really great, because I mean, it was a lot of entrepreneurship. It was communication. It was Yeah, it's a little bit of everything. And then I started in South Korea for six months, and I studied in Switzerland for six months. And both those both those experiences were fantastic. I mean, South Korea was amazing in terms of, of course technology, but most of all, like the people I really enjoyed it and when I was in in Switzerland was also great because one of the best business schools in Europe, in highest case on color. And I remember when I took that course or like when I applied for that program and my grades were, I mean, they were average, I guess. But when I applied for that program, I mean, like, think like the teacher just told me. I mean, while you're doing this, you're not gonna get home with any points at all right? And then I came back to Sweden were like taking the most points of everyone that has ever been to that university. And that's what got me going. Right. And after that, I International Management in a master's in IT management. And at the same time, I really wanted to do more things right. And I was said yes to being an advisor for a startup or an incubator in Lagos in Nigeria, okay. And at the time, I didn't know anything about Africa. I didn't know where anything Was I had no idea where the Legos was. And I've never been there, still, but I was an advisor for that incubator for one year. And then I made an investment into one of the startups. So everything just via Skype and all these kind of things, right. So it went really well in the beginning. And then it didn't go so well. It's always part like, I mean, it was an audiobook company or audio book startup. So it's like audible. And there was this was six, six or seven years ago. So it was quite a high divide on like, audiobooks and all these kind of things. And I felt like, I mean, Nigeria is 200 million people. I mean, what could go wrong, right? interpenetration mobile phones everywhere. Baba What? Download a book. There was like so many problems. But one of the problems was that when you download a book, like the the charge for the data, was kind of like astronomical, like the book in itself didn't cost that much but Like the book was going to be like a couple hundred bucks. So, right that we but we got investments and we got picked up on an accelerated track in house in Helsinki at slush. slush is the world's largest entrepreneurship conference. And we got picked up there. And I was just waiting for my team. Or one of the founders, actually, who was who was coming from Nigeria. So this was the first time we met in person. And while I was waiting for him, I just, I mean, you know how it is on the conferences, you go there and you think you're gonna do stuff with like, five people, nothing really happens anyway. And then there's this one guy or girl, but I end up with doing stuff in the future. Right, so so what happened was, I was waiting and then just ask this guy, okay. Hey, can I wait, you're waiting for all the other founders and Yeah, of course. So what do you do? So, yeah, short story long. He showed on his phone that he could sort of control his home right so he could see when someone opens. generator, they could turn like the lights on and off, and all these kind of things. And this was also like six years ago, six and a half years ago, I guess. Right? Like the IoT hype. And I never thought about home automation that really didn't really exist. And building automation for me as well. I never heard about it like, age back back nets, all these kind of things like no idea whatsoever, right? So and this guy was like, I recognize that he was a genius. And they had like a phenomenal technology. I mean, we actually stayed in touch and I started helping him pro bono just with strategy stuff, and I wanted to learn more. And so he was based in Iceland. Fast forward to where we are today. I mean, I helped them on the side also working as a management consultant. I had many web agency at the time, doing a lot of these things. So I started off just helping them or him, tj. So he's the founder of Go-IOT where I was actually CEO. And then I'd sort of transitioned more into doing the strategy I created for like capital, the website. I helped them with everything I sat in on meetings that was in charge of international business development. And I remember like the first meetings when we talked to Terry Herr, of Intellimation out of Philadelphia. Yeah. And so he was interesting. He reached because he saw our website and he was really interested interested in getting a data pump from the building all these kind of things that we're still trying to do. And remembering that call. I'm almost finished here.

James Dice  10:37  

Now, don't don't cut yourself off. I like to story keep going.

Nicolas Waern  10:41  

So in the call in one of the earliest calls, I remember I wrote everything down. I still have like a notepad on my computer, like Terry Herr meeting 2015 or whatever, right? And I understood maybe 5% of everything that was said in the call to BACnet, tagging, Haystack, points, whatever. I mean, I didn't understand anything that was said, absolutely nothing. So but I wrote everything down, because that's what I do in most of my meetings anyway. And at the time I was working, and then I was a management consultant for Volvo Cars than for SWEGON, which is OEM for HVAC units, so air handling units and these kind of things in indoor climate stuff. And I was in charge for the wireless side of this. So they had like this demand control ventilation system. And so I went from being sorta like a part application owner or manager for a part of that application and then was the project manager for the whole suite of that demand control ventilation site, right. I think like the biggest player in Sweden fair living in the Nordic So I know they got some presence in the US as well. And they were using this wireless mesh wireless mesh solution, which I'm promoting left, right and center and in their products, right. So. So it started off, I guess with Nigeria and audiobooks. And then it went into like IoT edge gateway with go IoT, where we want to harmonize everything IoT underneath the backend umbrella. So if you look at everything from the top, even if it's like, yeah, whatever, everything should be BACnet device objects device will backup devices back in Congress period, basically. So that was really cool. But yeah, I mean, technology is one thing. And having a phenomenal technology, but you're lacking in other aspects or the market doesn't really understand what you're offering is of course, a pain so to say, yeah, I think like the last time Eight months. So I was the acting CEO of Go-IOT for about one, one and a half year. And then I decided to go on my own since last summer. So working for some real estate owners here in Sweden, basically with digital twin strategies. And now the last, what is it five months, I've been working together with a digital twin company, I would say the leading digital twin company in Sweden called Zynka BIM or Zynka Group. And they have a new initiative, which is called Digital Buildings. So it's basically sort of like creating that secret recipe of how to harness and manage. So like all the BIM stuff that you do in the construction phase, but actually make use of it in the asset management space. Okay, so I think that's what we're doing now. And I've been advising them on the connectivity strategy, as in how to create real connected digital twins and getting data bought from existing systems from IoT stuff, and getting that actually to work. In a nice and fast way, I mean, getting data out can be fast can be extremely slow. Making Sense of it is another thing. Getting back to actually controlling the building and creating an autonomous building is also, I mean, all these kind of things, right. So, I mean, that's where I'm today actually had the well part final presentation this morning. So that was great. Yeah. So we're still like, probably going to do some other next steps and all these kind of things. But it was really nice to get that done. And I've definitely learned a lot because I've been mostly focusing on the asset management phase, but it's also a lot of the construction side as well. And you mean, building smart from start? I think it's something that is super interesting as well. And so we can talk a lot about more more about that as well. But I mean, so that's how I am sitting here and also contributed to automated buildings and one of the most important people for me has been Ken Sinclair.

James Dice  15:01  

What's his influence been on you?

Nicolas Waern  15:05  

I mean, everything. Everything. I mean, I started reading his blogs in the beginning, right? And yeah, like this 5% has hopefully grown to 150% of understanding what's going on. Right. So yeah, but those 5% I mean, of course, I learned a lot from TJ was the founder of Go-IoT, both not like in terms of hardware software. Also, Paul Humphreys was our hardware designer. So I know a little bit about like hardware design. really deep down, to be honest, and also the software layer, the cloud layer and stack wise and all these things in the middle. But I think like in terms of an industry perspective, yeah, it's automated building, just going back reading stuff, like 20 years ago, and I think it's maybe it's the same for you like we think or I like to think that is innovative, new thinker, all these kind of things. Right. Let me go back 20 years. And you guys have asked me to say the same and it is like I was like right now I'm sort of blushing, because I'm so like, ashamed of, like, my early thoughts like, Why is no one ever thought about this? Right? Wrong. Like everyone has thought about it? A lot of people have tried it. And I mean, a legend Mike Newman, like the other day, right. And I know that I think it was Calvin from climatech maybe was sacked from contemporary controls that said, I mean, when he was writing this BACnet, like the first couple of additions, I mean, it was really bashing on the OEM side, because they didn't really want to change, right? I mean, it's still the case, but I mean, like they didn't really want to change. So you can see in that text is exactly the same passion that I have. I mean, I really want this industry to change because I see a lot of potential, but I was really wrong thinking that I'm the only one, which is good, and definitely not the first one. So I think that's sort of like definitely a humbling experience and I remember how Looking up to Ken as a really a hero, and then I met him at the HR Expo, I think it was in Chicago the first time. And then we kept in touch and now it's more or less. I mean, he's mentoring me, I'm mentoring him. And a lot of a lot of the stuff that's coming out of automated buildings, the last six months has been like this born connected stuff or getting a new one connected or wireless ways and these kind of things has been a lot because me, Zack, Brad White, and Calvin Slater, I mean, we have this whole open approach to the industry and we really want to create more openness and transparency and then democratizing everything that goes on basically.

James Dice  17:43  

Yeah, my experience with automated buildings was like, you know, I graduated from college, super excited about energy efficiency, and I get into a real building, and I'm like, blown away, you know, by the first hundred days of my job pretty much like, right off the bat. I'm like, what, what is happening? This is not what I expected at all. And I found automated buildings at some point. And I just started to feel like oh, like these are there's someone else out there that gets it right and write about these topics for man. For twenty years, right?

Nicolas Waern  18:26  

Yeah, it is. It is. Yeah. So I mean, okay, reverse that. How did you come into this industry? Where did you start? And I mean, what keeps you going as well, I guess.

James Dice  18:38  

So mine's been a little bit more linear than yours. I'm super inspired by how you kind of just went from one thing to the next until you found what it is, which is great. So yeah, I, my degree in college was mechanical engineering and I'll try not to make this an hour and a half story, but I took a sustainable energy course as an elective in my final year at school. And I had no idea what I wanted to do up until that point I just knew I was kind of a treehugger at that point I'd Oh no, it was like, I was readingtreehugger.com, for instance. That was like my most visited blog, probably in college.

Nicolas Waern  19:21  

He's like, saving the world. intention, right? Something like that. I'm exactly the same way.

James Dice  19:28  

Okay, cool. And I didn't know what I wanted to do. All I knew was at that point in my life that I just wanted to play soccer so so I played soccer in college and I like to say that I I majored in soccer and minored in mechanical engineering. Because it was like a full time job, so, anyway, in the sustainable energy course...

Nicolas Waern  19:50  

Which position did you play?

James Dice  19:53  

I'm most native as like a center midfielder. But in college, I was kind of in over my head. had like I shouldn't have been on this team at all. So it was it was whatever I can get on the field. So I played right back I played center back. But nowadays when I play like I had a game last night. I play center midfielder like the I like to run the show a little bit.

Nicolas Waern  20:18  

Okay, the playmaker. Exactly.

James Dice  20:20  

Yeah, yeah. Anyway, I was in a sustainable energy course and the teacher kept bringing in guest speakers and about halfway through the semester he brought in Anne Hill. Anne if you're listening to this, thank you very much for getting me into this world. She was a leader for a mechanical contractor. And she was starting an energy efficiency group within that mechanical contractor. And that group so the mechanical contractors called Murphy Company, they started a group called M360 that was focused on energy efficiency. You retro commissioning and performance contracting so they were kind of growing into an energy service company, which I'm not sure what they call that in Europe, do they call that an ESCO?

Nicolas Waern  21:13  

I have no idea.

James Dice  21:16  

So, so they basically they they structure contracts so that the energy savings pay back the loan for the construction is the model. And so from there, I went to another ESCO called Energy Systems Group. And right around that transition, I started using analytics software.

Nicolas Waern  21:40  

So, like this was,

James Dice  21:42  

yeah, this was 2013.

So I started using analytics software for retro commissioning. And then when we did a performance contract, we would install the software to then maintain the savings throughout the life of the contract. So we would, we would monitor buildings for the utility bills, but then we would also monitor the systems themselves, using fault detection to make sure that what we expected was happening, what's actually happening. Is that, that when that

Nicolas Waern  22:14  

Is that the lever for your business model? Is it like EPC, energy performance contracting?

James Dice  22:19  

Exactly, yeah. yep, yep. So the savings are guaranteed. And so our motivation was, if we monitor this, we can make sure that savings don't drift and nothing gets overridden and that type of thing. So, I then went to Energy Systems Group and tried to kind of start the same model. That didn't work out. A year later, I ended up at a consulting firm called Sitton energy solutions as their director of analytics, so they had they had gotten into analytics yet, and I knew I knew from 2013 that this is this is what I wanted to do. I think this model is really powerful. And so we set up there, they're just a straight consultancy. So they're there. They don't do any construction or anything like that. So it was a different model than what I was used to. But what was interesting about them is they're totally independent. So they could serve an owner and basically design the solution to what that owner needs, right? So yeah, we set up that model that way, you know, we, we decided that we were going to be independent, but we also wanted to do and become an analytic shop in house. So we became a SkySpark reseller. Okay. And I started that from scratch. And so I was like the person who was selling it or the person who was managing it. A little bit of the programming. I was managing the programmers, I was basically doing everything except for writing the code to make this all work.

Nicolas Waern  23:58  

To me just as a comparison. I mean, I think if PJ is listening, I'm not really I think he agrees if he if he digs deep down, but I mean, like, for me was a lot of that as well. I didn't write any code, but I did like the marketing. Yeah, well, everything, like everything in just trying to figure out like how to get this to market and how to satisfy the customer needs and just like every I mean, that's, that's how I learned everything. So he's great. I mean, I think that was a great school for you as well, I guess. It was absolutely

James Dice  24:30  

a school. I mean, and I wasn't the only one but I was kind of leading it. I was kind of my my baby. But we created a business model, a new business model around it, we created a new pricing model, a new message, right? So it's, it's changing from we're going to sell you this hour of consulting. We're really smart to changing that to we're going to monitor your buildings and that's going to be a subscription and we're going to give you insights. So Maybe we could talk more about that. But that was kind of the the last four or five years before joining in NREL. Yeah. So we basically used SkySpark and then helped building owners implement SkySpark or implement other software if they were wanting to go in a different directionthan sky Spark. Solast summer, then I decided, you know, I didn't want to do everything. I just wanted to focus on analytics and kind of go deeper into less about see if I can explain this. I wanted to do less with specific building owners solutions. Because a lot of the building owners were, it's not that they were behind. But they were behind, right. So we're, we're selling.

Nicolas Waern  25:54  

They are behind, but it's not their fault.

James Dice  25:58  

No, absolutely not.

Nicolas Waern  25:59  

I think that they That's the case. Right? I think like the whole industry is behind. Yeah, it's someone's fault. And maybe we no fault that is, but I don't think it's the owner's fault.

James Dice  26:12  

Yeah, I mean, there and we can untangle that for weeks. Yeah, we're still not still not get there. But I was feeling like I wanted to kind of get to the cutting edge, if that makes sense. And at NREL where I currently work was the like, they're at the cutting edge, I get the chance to read and go deep and read research and talk to people like you. And I guess you'd probably qualify that nothing that I say represents NREL in any way. The job, the job basically provides the ability to be a subject matter expert and kind of get to the bottom of what's holding back this industry so we can kind of knock down those those obstacles. So that's kind of my journey where I'm at today.

Nicolas Waern  27:04  

It's really cool, but I mean, okay, so for NREL that like the company you work for today, what do you do then you're like this subject matter expert on all the things cutting edge and you help customers or you help internal organization and picking the right tool. Is it a combination? Or what is it that you do?

James Dice  27:21  

Yeah, so NREL is a national lab of the US Department of Energy, and there are 17 of different labs. And I don't even know six months in if I could really explain how that system came to be and how we're different. But our focus is energy efficiency and renewable energy. So it started 40 years ago as like the pioneer in solar essentially like in the world. But now it's grown into this very large organization. So 2500 people, and there's a lot of people focused on cutting edge research. Our group is not as focused on that it's more focused on applying the cutting edge research. So later stage technologies, helping organizations implement those later stage technologies. And the focus is on federal government, institutions, agencies. So we do a lot of work with the Department of Defense, GSA, kind of helping them with their portfolios and helping them the way I like to think about it is, like I just said, knocking down obstacles. So how can we use our expertise to move whatever initiative forward that we can so sometimes that looks like doing a demo? So like, right now we're doing a demo for a certain type of analytics software and helping them decide out of their, you know, 10,000 buildings they have across the country across the world. Yeah. Which one of those makes sense for this technology? And which ones don't make sense? And then what are the energy savings? Does the technology work? Like it's supposed to work? Because there are a lot of claims out there, right, that needs to be understood.

Nicolas Waern  29:16  

Can you explain a bit more of them? I mean, all the platforms that are out there, they do everything right. Isn't that true?

James Dice  29:22  

Haha. Yeah, everyone says, if you talk to the marketing people at every company, they certainly do everything, they check every box.

Nicolas Waern  29:36  

No, no, what I mean, I just think that's funny because I usually say that even for me, but I mean, like I've been, I mean, your journey and what you're doing right now is basically what I'm doing without 2499 people I guess. Buy into, like, yeah, be at the cutting edge at all times. But I'd still like I had to reign myself in actually for this recommendation for the digital twin company is even if like the like what you say, like with GPUs to cutting edge stuff. It's not really sure that a one that it Yeah, maybe the technology works, but does it still? Do they have support is no documentation all these kind of things or is it proven? regulations? So many things, right? So it has to be a combination of utilizing partners and existing stuff, as well as I think like, trying to at least use the cutting edge to get an edge over both competitors and finding margins, these kind of things as well. But I mean, like for me, yeah, it's been really, yeah, but except what you say I just mean knocking down doors and climbing into Windows and just all these kind of things just to find the problems and then find a solution that just works to to go through I mean, that's the only thing that I've been doing the last five years. And I think I have managed to find both the people I think in a lot of solutions that if deployed correctly, even today, I mean, you could solve. I mean, everything I guess, I mean, he's not really anything stopping us, except for people, and processes, and all these kind of things. Right. But yeah, I mean, it's super cool. I mean, we have so much in common. I used to play soccer as well. I also want to play like a play make role. So yeah, very similar stuff. I know I talked about this yesterday, we're having lunch with someone in the industry 4.0 space, and he was doing karate and all these kind of things, right. And I said, I mean, I used to do kickboxing in Taekwondo. And that was 15 years ago. I stopped playing soccer like 18 years ago. And I think it's like yesterday, right? I mean, it leads on and off, but I still think in my head It's Yeah, wasn't that long ago? Right? Yeah. It's quite a long time.

James Dice  32:05  

Yeah, my body can't do the things my brain thinks that it should be no, no, exactly, exactly.

Nicolas Waern  32:12  

That's tragic. But I mean, okay, so we're definitely same path, I guess. I mean, we're both treehuggers, I guess, wanted to change the world to a better place, saving energy saving people. And I think like you wrote in your blog about digital twins about, like, the jobs to be done, right. Yeah. And you said like the two primary jobs is one is creating better buildings for people, something like that, at least. And the other one was making it a financial play, I guess, like real estate or how can real estate homes get a better financial return of investment or something with? Yeah, yeah. That's the other job to be done. Right. Right. I was thinking about that. I couldn't really find what I thought was wrong with it, but I didn't think it was correct. Either even though I think it's 100% correct, I think like, you're not saying yeah, there's something I hopefully can maybe I can respond in this call or get back to you. But I think like, so my point in that on that subject is I mean, you're absolutely right. And I think like the first point in terms of people, no one really cares in terms of HVAC or technology. I mean, it's like, I mean, no one is really talking about it. There's no KPIs. There's no metrics, really. I mean, comfy who got swallowed by Siemens, I guess. They were pretty close. Yeah, like, I mean, pushing towards that KPI or that side of the industry. But I think like it's not something that you really measure. And the other one in terms of financial, I mean net operating income or how it really corresponds to increase the real estate value. I think that's also spot on. I think that's how I've been talking about IT investments when investing in technology the last couple of years at least. Because before it was more like, I mean, IoT, this IoT that means you can do everything. We don't want to do anything. Okay? Okay, fair enough. So it's again, like, in this morning, I was a parking company in Finland called Wired Hut. And with even not print, it's also running prop tech rush part from prop tech, Finland. And we were just talking about this. I mean, what are the jobs to be done? I mean, what are the solutions? Not talking about technology whatsoever? Just finding out okay, what kind of problems do you have? I mean, and then just reverse engineering that into a questionnaire. So I mean, again, not just talking about technology and helping people finding the answers on their own. I think that's really, really important because I see a huge gap between I mean, tech companies talking blockchain AI machine learning, and this elite jargon and these discussions on LinkedIn, right? And I think it's needed. But it's not needed in the sense of if you really want your products to get adopted, then I think like you need to understand the customer better and understand the value propositions. And again, going back to Clayton Christensen, which he's a, he was a legend. I love innovators dilemma. I love how to measure your life and competing against luck, and I love his books. Phenomenal. Yeah,

James Dice  35:28  

Yeah. I think they're all right behind us.

Nicolas Waern  35:32  

I love everything that he's done to be honest. Yeah, I mean, so that was like, international management was more of a strategy. And Korea also studied a lot of strategy is the same action in Switzerland. And I think that was just going back between why I chose this industry, I guess, was a strategic decision. Because I knew that it was going to happen. You see, like smartphones. That's what the same way for mainframe computers, smartphones. You see cars right now, exactly the same thing, you get tests, like who's gonna like a software approach. And then you have like some hardware in it, while the additional car manufacturers, they have hardware, then they try to jam some software in that. But it's still just a hardware thing. And they got a huge, I mean organization and people and processes is the legacy base that is really, really difficult to get away from. And I saw exactly the same thing that I mean, this is going to happen. This was five or six years ago again. So this is definitely gonna happen in buildings. So it's just a strategic choice and learning more about like buildings, like the 60% or 50% energy consumption in the world. 90% indoors, again, like going back to saving the world, right? So it's something that is bound to happen. You can get a get a good impact learning about BACnet 60% of all commercial real estate, one API to BACnet. It sounds so easy to do it. I mean, like, the problem is, I think like no one really in the industry wants to do it. I think there are a lot of people outside the industry that really wants this to happen. But still finding it really, really tough to get data out of buildings and can't really figure out what building automation is all about. And I think that's where we're going to see a lot of mergers and acquisitions from the tech giants. And not only like Siemens buying I mean, companies with within their own sphere, but actually like Google, Amazon and Alibaba, buying MSIs and these companies because they know actually what they're doing. Yeah, so I definitely see that that's gonna happen the next five years, a lot to add to the competence and skill set of actually doing the stuff that is needed for buildings. And I think, I hope well, there was actually a Freudian thing, but I believe at least, that this will happen. I It's gonna increase the speed of value creation. Because you'll see there's a lot of slowness in the industry today. Unfortunately.

James Dice  38:11  

I second that notion of... I often feel like there's a lot of us that write about this and talk about this, like we're doing right now. There's this sense of: this should happen. Right? But then when you go talk to someone that runs a building, I don't feel like we're speaking the same language in a lot of ways, right?

Nicolas Waern  38:34  

No, but there's no, I mean, a good example is this with Coronavirus, right. So now when we're having this discussion, Corona is everywhere. That's gonna have a huge impact on the economy and everything. But I mean, a guy in my network is working with indexing buildings. So shout out to Timo Marburger at Hub API, or Hub API systems. So basically what they do they just go in index all the data making it easier for others to actually. So at Google making it like the data in searchable like Google, basically in buildings and building systems and economist systems, all these kind of things. Timo shared something on LinkedIn, which was that I mean, we've seen the urgency. So that's what I'm getting at. I mean, there's no sense of urgency, right. But we see the urgency now with the coronavirus, right? I mean, everyone is like, I mean, transports meetings, the whole Italy, Sweden, you can't be in places with over 500 people. I'm working from home, you're working from home, all these kind of things. In the last, what, two months, three months, maybe

James Dice  39:43  

People have mobilized around this issue.

Nicolas Waern  39:46  

Imagine if that would happen with climate change. Absolutely. I mean, it again, like why aren't we doing that? So I just reshared it and I just said like, Okay, if it's not if it's not happening to me, as in every person thinks that way. I'm not gonna do it right. Or if it's not happening to me, Well, I said, like, if it's not happening to me now, I'm not gonna do anything. If it happened to me in five months, I don't care if it's happening to someone else now, I don't really care if he's happened to someone else in five months, or let's say 20 years or 10 years. Why would I do anything? Right? I think like, that's the biggest problem I think for me and maybe for you, I I feel that sense of urgency. I felt it for like the last I don't know 20 years. Like maybe growing up videos or reading too much comics about the Phantom and the Superman and saving the world. Maybe that's maybe that's the reason I don't know.

James Dice  40:40  

Man was Captain Planet.

Nicolas Waern  40:42  

Okay, exactly. I think that's something I mean, I mean, I don't know you have kids. I know you have a cat, but

James Dice  40:50  

just a cat. No kids. Yeah.

Nicolas Waern  40:52  

But still, I mean, you have to leave a better world for the cat then but I mean, I've got I've got two small kids so and I just want them to grow up in a A world that I grew up in. And I think now, especially for younger generations that are like 20 year olds. I mean, they're not they're not thinking that I mean, they think like, this is horrible. We can't get any jobs. The planet is dying, all these kind of things. I mean, Greta, actually from Sweden. I mean, he's turning that urgency in the, in the younger segments, but then it's like the Okay Boomer movement as well. Like, I mean, fair enough. I mean, so it's a lot of these things going on.

James Dice  41:30  

But I do feel like that's changing, right, it feels like it's shifting. So when I when I moved from St. Louis, we were working on getting the first benchmarking ordinance passed in St. Louis. So shout out to the local USGBC chapter and St. Louis and Emily Andrews and everything she's doing there but that if that's happening in I don't know, I know you don't know the the cultural and politics of America but if something happening in the Midwest. That is that progressive. Because you see everything happening in New York, you see LA just passing, you know, these building optimization laws essentially. Right. But if you see that happening in St. Louis, that usually means Hey, something, something's really happening. Yeah. Yeah. And and I think what I'm seeing is like this, this shift, I mean, you see fifth wall and all the capital they're raising for these types of technologies. But you see it at on the, the mandates and the ordinances and the and the laws being passed. It does feel like there's some sort of shift happening, at least in my little piece of the world, right?

Nicolas Waern  42:45  

No, no, I hope so. I really, really hope so. But I mean, you're talking about like, the ones running the buildings, right? I think there are a lot of things happening down here at the grassroot or like the ones who are really suffering right now. Maybe not all of them, but some of them at least. Yeah. And then it's some stuff happening maybe up here. But it's still like, by Yeah, but I mean, I agree on the whole prop tech stuff or going green and Human Development Goals and so many prop tech funds like fifth wall and these initiatives where he is becoming it also a fashion I guess. So maybe it's a lot of greenwashing. But I don't really care if it goes to the man that actually voted to ban it. I don't really care, right club Captain Planet. But exactly what I mean. So no, I definitely agree. I mean, I think that's, I can see a shift also in the way technology is being deployed only like five years ago. I mean, even then, when I talked about IoT, or even if you have that jargon of technology. Now there's still like, even if it's a lot of hype, of course about AI machine learning. I use the tags all the time in my, in my LinkedIn posts. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I mean, I think it's No, but I think it's something that I mean people are responding more to and they see that I make a when I go home, I use Netflix, I use all these kind of things and it's just like one click two clicks or I get all these pieces of information and I use modern interfaces that don't look like shit, or are horrible. And when I go to work, I use like, 20 year old technology and 20 year old 30 year old interfaces, and it's just absolutely catastrophic. I mean, I think there's so many I mean, there are some companies at least that are progressive and I think like they're they see that their workforce is 50 Plus, wheedle aged men, mostly. Yeah. And how are they gonna hire? I mean, they can't hire anyone. I mean, everyone goes to Spotify or something else.

James Dice  44:49  

How are they gonna hire if they have 30 year old technology they're expecting recruits to use?

Nicolas Waern  44:53  

It's impossible, no one would like to work with them. I mean, you saw you're setting yourself was like, was it a 10 years ago. I mean, all this stuff you learn in school, right? I mean, it's a classic in every industry, but I mean, some worse than others, I guess. I mean, then you go out to do Wow, they're using this, this and this. And he's like, Yeah. Are you kidding? I mean, yeah, it's just like any other thing. But that was maybe acceptable. I mean, of course, it wasn't acceptable back then either. But I mean, you didn't really have a choice, I guess. But now, you have a lot of choices in in I mean, going the developer route, and you know, that he can find a job that pays well, or right, all of these kind of things. I mean, yeah. Why would you choose something that you know, that can work with 30 year old technology are working with a lot of manual processes, and most of your day goes to hunting for information. And the rest of the day goes to validating that information? Yeah, I mean, it's absolutely mind blowingly crazy, and I'm not only talking about like the building automation side, is the technical asset management side that is exactly the same like this whole industry. For me, I had like one of my all time greatest posts on LinkedIn was like when I said that the industry is broken. And that was because Troy Harvey, he didn't really I think he said it. He didn't own up to it, Troy. But I know he thinks like that. But I think like it is broken. It's not the people but it's just like the industry in itself in the silos and the manual ways of working the vendor lock in - all these kind of things is just something that I mean, something needs to happen. And I think it's not going to come from the industry. It's definitely going to come again from Tech learning real estate instead of real estate learning tech, right?

James Dice  46:38  

Yep. And for everyone listening Troy Harvey is Passive Logic's CEO I just wrote, well, I didn't just write it out a few weeks back, but by the time this podcast airs, there will be a whole newsletter out dedicated to Passive Logic.

Nicolas Waern  46:55  

Did you you talk to him as well or?

James Dice  46:57  

I talked to him a few weeks back. He talked at me and I learned a lot. Let's say that. He's taught me a lot. But the newsletter I just wrote was basically comparing them to Tesla, because and this might seem extreme to people that haven't met Troy and haven't heard him speak, but I don't feel like anyone's talking about disruption quite the way that he is. I think there's a lot of innovation happening. There's a lot of exciting collaboration happening. But what Troy's talking about it's like a top to bottom disruption of what you just said, is a broken system, broken industry. And those might seem like extreme words, but I what I wrote about this week was this that he's just thinking on a different level, and we need we need that type of thinking.

Nicolas Waern  47:53  

And I think like, I mean, I'm really in favor of their products. I mean, I invited him here to talk to Zynka BIM and SWEGON production for instance assembly and and some other, like local regional players here in Gothenburg in Sweden, so he was here and he helped me move a couch as well.

James Dice  48:11  

So he's a nice guy

Nicolas Waern  48:12  

I actually needed that help. Yeah. Hopefully that can get him some contracts. No, but it was really great. So like he was on from nine to one and it was just talking about you all everything that they're doing. And like I could just, I mean, from time to time during that day, I was just looking at the other so like players and attendees there was some actually competitors. And they were just staring right like deer in the headlight, because it was some of this is almost too hard to believe, for those for existing players because it's so far off to how it's being done in the industry. For for us maybe or for someone that more I mean, I'd be really interested in learning from industry 4.0 players, as well as like the software development, how Netflix how they build their streaming platforms, LinkedIn, I mean taking technology where you're at the cutting edge in terms of everywhere, like maybe not quantum computing, but almost and having these AI machine learning algorithms on the edge and all these kind of things, right? So for me, it's just like taking what the world the best things the world has to offer, put them in, you know, in a package using a drag and drop user interface, so absolutely marvelous user interaction, and making it fantastic piece of technology for installers. So that all that data, I mean, what takes like days could take like, I don't know, couple of minutes or at least hours. So it's absolutely crazy, right? But and this I haven't told this to Troy. I think he knows that I'm thinking it. For me. It's it's like, I also thought that it was was a revolution or disruption. Right? And maybe it is, but I don't think so. So I think it's more of an extreme, like, evolution, maybe revolution, I guess. But so So just to clarify, I think so like my second best posts, at least this year was like what the future the future Smart City thinking or something like that. Right. Okay. And it was just talking about like, and our session at the AHR Expo in Orlando was all about open like open standards interoperability that is the future and all these kind of things. So and I think what Troy and them are doing, I think it's more like apple

James Dice  48:36  

Like the iPhone?

Nicolas Waern  50:39  

exactly in the sense that they have a really nice looking product. Fantastic. Great piece of technology. Flawless, so combined combined with wireless stuff, but

James Dice  50:58  

And integrated technology, right. It's a full stack.

Nicolas Waern  50:59  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely everything full package. Yeah, exactly. So everything is integrated, you get one API to the building and delivers quality data. And then they have a partner ecosystem. So I mean, like, and I know they've got a serious order book coming from the US and elsewhere as well. However, I don't think it's disruptive in the sense that it's so so for me, I had like three stages, right? So one is for, like the legacy technology use a lot of wired, a lot of vendor lock in proprietary systems. I mean, basically where we are today with old technology, right? Yeah, PID loop, sequencing, these kind of things. And then you take the next level, which is basically Troy's stuff. So cutting edge technology, AI machine learning, deep digital twin, as he likes to put it, really disrupting the technology side of things, or taking in what the world has to offer in a box, right. But at the same time, you're still I mean, you still have to use their stuff. You still have to use their system in order to drag and drop and it's still part of their offering. Again, like if you look at the jobs to be done something for people something for real estate owners, perfect it fits the bill. But in terms of taking the industry to the next level. I said that's where I in terms of if you go if you so I have three levels. One is legacy technology. All in a box old technology, right. And here we have new technology but it's still in a box and you have to use their... sort of like it's some kind of vendor locking, at least with proprietary systems.

James Dice  51:00  

Yeah, that's modern, right. It's modern technology. But it catches us up. But it's still... in some ways. It's kind of like restarting the industry. Yeah, a little bit. So this industry started as closed proprietary in the 80s, right, and we have been kind of trying to undo that for 30 plus years now. Not us, but other people.

Nicolas Waern  53:03  

Yeah, every I mean, all the automatedbuildings.comguys and girls, women, everyone else like Mike Newman and everyone else has just been trying to do this, right. So, yeah, I'm not really sure if Troy's gonna use BACnet as the interoperable layer or whatever is going to use, I hope is going to use it or something akin to it is I think, like, again, so the third level as you have products that are open, open source or whatever. And basically, if you go into the building, it's just an API. Okay? And then you just select whatever you want to do from the top you can have whatever software you want to run, it's basically gonna be like, okay, let's install this. Okay, let's install this from Troy. Let's say, Yeah, and I pump it down and make to use it, I'll let's install it. And I can use this stuff from James, or from Siemens, or from Schneider or from this tech or from some BMS suite or whatever, it doesn't really matter. Like, all the integration should happen. Coming up up the top. I mean, that's our less focus on integration, more value creation and innovation. But I think that this is what sets it apart, but I haven't really I've tried to get ahold of Troy but he's a busy man. And so I've been busy as well. But just to see if this is true, but I think it is and like to decide I see again, like the third level, which is again, like just total separation of hardware and software, and possibly also more wireless. Definitely. So I'm talking to a lot to Phillip Kopp from California. So he's super crazy. I mean, you're pretty crazy. I'm pretty crazy. He's brutal crazy because he's also been in this industry for like 20 years coming on from the energy side. And just freaking out like how broke is this building automation side is so he really wants to disrupt everything as in like you have like this. controllers today. A lot of wired stuff. He just wants to make wireless out of everything, even like the base infrastructure as well as augmenting it with their proprietary or they're actually fantastic software piece of wireless mesh. So basically what it does i mean

James Dice  55:10  

is that what yeah, exactly company's called Conectric? Yeah. We've chatted a bit, but not much.

Nicolas Waern  55:18  

Yeah, I mean, he's doing great stuff I think and he's, he's really pushing me into to be really cutting edge as well, because he's talking and I'm doing the same but I mean about blockchain based stuff and stream processing and all these kind of things. But I mean, and it's something that we definitely can do. But anyway, just going back to wrap this up...

James Dice  55:38  

So, yeah let's go back to the third level there. So, so first level is legacy, basically where 99% of the buildings are today. Second level is passive logic. I think I'm stuck on where you're placing them. So you're placing them at this level because they have, they might have an API where they're going to share the data. And there might be some sort of App Store. But everything below that is so everything At the hardware level, below that API.

Nicolas Waern  56:16  

Exactly, for me, when I see it, if you look inside the building, right, you use their products, you might I know that you can use it as a case. So you put it at the top, and then you sort of like oversteer or use machine learning artificial intelligence run scenarios on the existing equipment. So you make that work in your favor without having to rip it out or knowing exactly what it does, right. And then you can augment it with wireless stuff. But again, like I think you have to use their software offering in order to do this. And I mean, like their software offering is brutal. It's fantastic. It's great. So why wouldn't you do it? But again, like that's not the point. That's not the point. Same with like apple. I mean, if you look at their products and the product suite, it works. I mean, just a couple of years ago, I've been I've been an Android fan for years. But at the same time when I'm trying to integrate it flawlessly with my computer, or phone or my EarPods or whatever, there's always some hassle, you always have to do something. Right? So even if like this third level is where the industry should be, or whatever you want to call it. It's still integration work. It's still API's it's still a lot of these kind of things. Right. So it depends on how you see it. But I definitely think their product is Yeah, I mean it's phenomenal. But to counter that with let's say So Dave Lapsley was another cool character from the UK. So they are also there have been a system integrator systems integrator for I don't know forever, I guess working out the UK specializing in while every controller there is. And they've seen all the problems and they wanted to do something about it. So they created a software suite called Sentinel, and bubble as well for more user interaction. So they, I think, like, they got a pad in the process of turning back objects into. So like drag and drop the Android environment. So it's likely got a native back net to Android app bridge. Okay, which is pretty cool. And it works in the same way as passive logic in the sense that you can replace the JSON or put it into building then understand everything, how it goes on, and then one API to mobile. So basically the same, but the difference that they've only got software, so they can put it on a tablet, they can put it on a generic hardware, something. Yeah, all of this kind of thing. So there's a true separation of hardware and software. I say which is not the case with Troy's stuff. So that's that's a sort of what to call it. minor points. Yeah, not to say that their stuff is better, or that Passive Logic's stuff is better. It's just different. And for me, I just wanted I'm trying to like the companies I'm consulting for just showing the pros and cons. I can't really say I mean, this is better, this is worse this this, this is what it is. That's the only thing you can do, I think.

James Dice  59:22  

Yeah. So, so with the passive logic model. I mean, one thing I like is that the down to the edge, every controller has intelligence as to where it sits in the in the building, what does who it is, what its name is, what it's connected to. What its purpose is. Troy calls that the deep digital twin. So in that third layer model, where you have hardware and software disconnected, you can run any software on any hardware, how do you get that deep digital twin functionality in that future world?

Nicolas Waern  1:00:06  

This is a great question. Luckily, I've actually got the answer. Well, maybe. So I think like, so I've been, like I said, I mean, I've been trying to figure this out. So whenever I stumbled into like a roadblock, I tried to get over it and doesn't really depend if go into smart grid. If I go into construction, or if go into asset management, it doesn't really matter. So a company that works, there are three companies. So one was the one with Timo that does indexing of the data and buildings.

James Dice  1:00:39  

You said that's called Hub API?

Nicolas Waern  1:00:40  

yeah, hub API systems or hub API integration. I think. Obviously, what they do like they go in, they take all the data sources who make it searchable, and use all I can tie it together. There's another company called Ali phi which is also part of their offering called Serenity, which does the same thing. So basically, when you have all you take all the data, you select Create tags, I would say or index it. And then they have like the tools to, to pull them together and also create a user interface. So it's a it's a combination of indexing the files, and also RPA, which is called robotic process automation. So you can also do these things easier. But the one that I'm have in mind the most is something called Platform of Trust, coming out of Finland, and there's like, owned by what do you call it was the Jimmy Hoffa, what do you call it? We'll be going off in the US. He represented what the what he call it, the unions, the unions. Okay. Yeah, so so the unions in Finland in terms of construction in terms of real estate, I think those are the ones are like behind platform across And they also receive, I think, like 10 million euro funding or something. So basically what they do is they have a self service platform. So and so this is just two things. So it's both Well, first of all is business oriented. So again, like if you have all these disparate data's collections and miss what you said, You don't know how that ties into identity, digital twin, or how they relate to each other, and anything like that. So they have something so ugly, when again, we do the indexing, and then they have something called so like a trust score. So they know where what they that they can be able to trust where it's coming from based on like 10 or 12 different parameters, and then have like a self service tool. So you can actually totally match these together. And this is also becoming more into an automated process. So that's where you can Okay, let's say you go in with well, BMS analytics suite so that controls all these kind of things. You use this kind of platform to tie it together. So you have this or like the relationships between them as well. And then you maybe you do the indexing, so you can actually tag it up. So make sense of it. And then maybe you have something in between as in the streaming platform, where you inject the meta data tagging schemas, or ontologies, like haystack or break, or whatever you want, right? That's a combination of, again, like utilizing, like, all these kind of things in an open way, interoperable way. But of course, you have to know what you're doing. You have to find the solutions, you have to find someone that does it. So but if you package all of this together, in a box in a building, then you get Troy's stuff. You know, so like, you want to buy that for a really good price, the does the job, or these two jobs? Or do you want to have openness so that you have a building that anyone can work on in the future? I mean, I'm not saying that Troy and Passive Logic are so Like, keeping the buildings for themselves forever mean like, you've got to pay someone, so why not pay them as well. So it's just like, different sort of philosophies, I guess, or perspectives and how to create intelligent buildings.

James Dice  1:04:15  

Yeah, and I do like the analogy of Apple and Android. I really think, you know, you could you could talk about the similarities between passive logic and Tesla, like I did, that's really like, they're creating the the iPhone of buildings, essentially, which is something that that we do need. I think one thing that that Troy's opened my eyes to is these two separate narratives that we have going on, and I think maybe you're hitting on those two narratives, as you're, as you're talking about this, but the first narrative is this: What I would call like the overlay narrative where you have and this is kind of what Troy saying we we need to replace but you have old, old old technology as your controllers, right? And then we're adding all this intelligence to kind of make up for the shortcomings of the old technology. Right? So that's where you have analytic software, sitting on top of and integrating with the old technology - pulling the data, but also sending commands. That would be the overlay paradigm, I guess. And what Troy saying is no, all of those platforms, all of those solutions are making up for the shortcomings that we can actually just remove from the whole equation by starting at the edge with intelligence.

Nicolas Waern  1:05:45  

I mean, there was a company name was gonna do a shout out again, but I mean, like you said, build smart from start, right. I mean, why wouldn't you do that? Right, exactly. So I think like, you know, I definitely fagree. And I mean, there's only I guess, so much you can do with technology that came into existence 20 years ago, using technology based on like 50 years ago. And I think that's definitely what he's saying as well like going in and ripping everything out. And the thing I know that Philip Cobb from electric is also the same mindset that just like, I mean, forget about it. I mean, just just chill out. rip it out. Yeah, and and do that kind of thing. Right? So I'm not really sure I'm, I'm a little bit on the fences, because I know that buildings are pretty slow moving, at least. I mean, okay, when we're going to get to Smart Grid inclusivity you know, balancing buildings and all these kind of things, then it's going to be faster date more or more cohesiveness in a smart city environment, I guess and it's going to be a lot of data is going to go back and forth. So maybe that's where you actually need to do this kind of thing. So then probably you need to do it now. Right? But I think What

James Dice  1:07:01  

what my thought is, is that we have these two paradigms, right? Troy's coming in with this new paradigm, but we were gonna have both for the long term foreseeable future, right? Yeah. There's so many building owners out there that just made a big upgrade yesterday, right? So, and just all the people that have made them in the last 15 years that just like they don't have the capital to replace all that hardware, wiring, like, they just don't, so they're gonna have a BAS, right. So They're gonna have these old 30 year old technology that they just saw yesterday, they're gonna have that for a while. So there, there are millions of buildings out there that are like that. So these paradigms are gonna coexist.

Nicolas Waern  1:07:49  

Maybe that's the case. Maybe I'm just too hardcore and wanted to choose the best solution at all times. But I think you're absolutely right. I think I mean, when I talked to I think this is interesting if you go like in the third bracket and just using cutting edge technology, and that works in silos, so to say, but in an interoperable way, when there are companies like echo and stream analyze from Sweden that have these small machine learning AI frameworks that he can put on a sensor level or in an edge gateway level, and I've seen it actually work so that it learns to building and then it helps to building sort of, I mean, do all the things that it should be done. So let's say if you have, I mean, my previous office when I was a management consultant we had on Fridays, everyone supposed to come in to eat breakfast, right? And of course, like the, what I call like the co2 levels and the temperature in the canteen or in the restaurant. The office was just like, horrible. Yeah, I mean, I'm gonna be there. But what we what days are like claimed and what I saw in action as well was that you you put these Ai machine learning. So like algorithms and you tweak it in such a way so that, okay, it should learn, right? So then you connect it to a couple of other different data sources. So let's say like, yeah, co2 sensors, temperature sensors, meeting bookings, etc, etc, etc. And then we can see that it doesn't need to have access to like the classic trends or historical data, it just learns the behavior, it creates the digital DNA, specially for that building. And so that building actually runs itself is just dependent on whatever data sources you take in. So that's also something that sort of like, negates the fact that you have to rip and replace, because if you can get this and get it at the top, work with something that's like over steers the existing stuff, then why not it should work because you have a meeting booking for 100 people on Friday. The system knows this on Wednesday or Thursday or Thursday evening, then it's going to sort of like make those adjustments before Hand, and he's going to go towards that scenario. So I mean, so it could be done. But again like it has to you have to know what you're looking for. You have to have specialized skill sets. Again, going back to Troy stuff for Dave stuff is not rocket, they made it so easy. So that maybe you could do it. I probably couldn't do it. But I mean, like someone with the experience and the skill set, maybe, but someone with the experience or the skills that can actually do it in a really modern way. So I think like, those two their solutions is for me, I think, at the top of the I mean, they're the cutting edge so to say Absolutely.

James Dice  1:10:38  

Okay, well, I'll have to get those two on on the podcast at some point. I'd like to get a debate going between Nicolas and Troy.

Nicolas Waern  1:10:49  

That would be amazing. No, but I am so so I think like both for Troy. I mean, I love his stuff, their stuff. Dave as well and Gramit is also one The founders, I mean, I love what they're doing as well. But I mean, I really want to test them. Because I always want to get so like the customers that I advise the best technology. So I really wanted to like easily and they might think that Okay, why are you talking about Dave stuff? Or why I'm talking about toy stuff? I mean, I just again, like going back to I would just want to make the world a better place. I mean, I'm gonna advise some of the best tools for that job. And right now, I definitely think they're the ones but in five years, I mean, and I think this goes back to the traditional ways of working in this industry. I mentioned this at one of the so like, this seminars at AHR. Brad White, who's working at was a guy out of Canada, we were going energy management, he's actually a rocket scientist. that, I mean, I just heard... in this industry, Why did you install these products? What do you mean? I mean, why did you chose this this vendor? I mean, we've had them for 20 years, or like they installed it the last time. Right? And that's also like the argument of why you should use it. Right. And,

James Dice  1:11:11  

Because they knocked on our door!

Nicolas Waern  1:12:20  

Yeah. And I think that that sense of loyalty towards something. I mean, maybe they have fantastic products. That's not what I'm saying. But I mean, like, my loyalty goes to the ones who, again, going back to Clayton Christensen, I mean, get the job done. In the best way, open way, interoperable way, fastest way or whatever, that can contribute to a better I mean, better building better society, better planet and Better Buildings for people. I mean, I think that's, that's where my loyalty lies. And that's I hope that's where it's gonna live forever, I guess.

James Dice  1:12:52  

Yeah, let's go. Let's swing back to that. We have about 10 minutes left. Is that where you're at? Okay, let's swing back to that for a little bit. So you brought up my my blog post. Why We Need Digital Twins, which I'll put in the show notes on this. But yeah, the premise of that is basically building on Clayton Christensen's concept, it's like a mental model, "jobs be done". And saying that the primary jobs to be done in a building are make the occupants happy, right. And the primary example that we use in the age back world is keep them comfortable, right. So whatever they're there to do in that building. The building should support them in that that's the job. And the second one is, a lot of times buildings are an investment for the owner of the building, right? So they're, they're trying to make a profit and everything that happens in that building is to support that profit. It's understandable. And what I kind of laid out in that blog post is that and really it was in developing that blog post, going through this thought process, right, of writing down all the different things that we do in buildings and solutions we sell an activities, but they all just funnel back up to those two major jobs to be done. And, and I think what from what I've seen talking to building owners, I think that language, in other words, taking all of our solutions that we're trying to sell in this industry, whether it be analytics or a control system or whatever. Throughout my career, that language has been missing when we go and sell our solutions when we go to implement our solutions. We're not as an industry taking and packaging our solutions to hit those two jobs to be done. Is that what what you're seeing With with your clients as well?

Nicolas Waern  1:15:02  

Yeah, absolutely. Spot on. I think like now when you're talking about this, I mean, I think it's beautiful in a way. I mean, I really think so because I mean, I think like Brad white wrote a seminal piece about like the, the $3 billion opportunity, right? He's making the arguments about the 3 30 300 rule. Like, you could take any percent out of $3 and $30 in $300, which is well being and productivity, which is definitely like the biggest segment. Yeah, like the most elusive segment as well. And I think like, again, like that goes back to one of the things that we haven't really talked about, or what you're talking about right now, which is people well being and productivity. I mean, that's like the biggest expense, right? And as well as, again, like why do buildings exist? I love the old vitruvius architect saying like buildings are just three things right? He goes. This has to be three things. One is robust enough In the sense that it has to pass the test of time it. So that is a building it has to robust. And it has to be useful be see what you said as well, I mean for the tenants or whoever is in there, it has to be fit for purpose, a hospital, a school, office building, whatever. And the third one is attractive. And that's something I definitely think is missing. So, for me, so like robust, useful and attractive. And the funny thing is here. Well, the interesting thing is, is that if a building is also a system, I guess, and a system is made up of all these different parts, right? If you have to have the buildings is going to be robust, useful and attractive. Inherently you have to use products that are robust, useful and attractive. So and I would say like products today in the industry, if you go back to the first brackets, or maybe robust, sort of useful in a way, not attractive in the slightest not For the users, and I think that's exactly what Troy wanted to change. He wanted to put a fantastic piece of technology into the hands of the installer. That is robust. It's useful, and it's attractive. And I think that's the first one that I've seen. And that's why probably why they're going so well. And this is something that I tried to do it go it for different different reasons. We couldn't really do it. And when you look back at nest as a product, or iPhone, I mean, I have so many companies, so many friends that are colleagues even that worked at Ericsson at the time, or even Nokia, my Finnish friends and I met so like one of the anyway, so they were just bashing on the iPhone, right? a crappy technology. The antenna doesn't work. It's just horrible. Our technology is much, much better. We've been the business for 20 years. What do you think they are similar to what everyone was saying about as well, but the thing is they just hit the attractive name. You know, like that's that's the stuff. It's just like attractiveness. That's the thing. It was something new for the ones who were using it. Yeah, I guess. Yeah, I mean, it looked good, even though it felt good, but it looked good. You look at nest as a product as a smart thermostat. It wasn't really brilliant or innovative or anything is beautiful. Yeah, that's, that's the only thing that he was. So I think like, again, going back to who are we doing this for? It's people. And normal people, I guess. As a not tech nerds. I love to talk about all this stuff, but not a lot of people do. Yeah. And it's definitely like the owners. So they need something that you can talk about, okay, how can we always this robust and useful and how is this attractive as well in terms of just visually pleasing but of course attractive in terms of user experience user interaction. It's beautiful. I think that's really, really important. I think that's just A simple way of measuring this and this is just also something with the beautiful part when you were talking about this is that and I think this is Yeah, it's actually a good thing too. So like to leave the show or this talk. Is that how does this product whatever is like your sort of like, what do you call it? screening or vetting or even developing as a product? How does this contribute to these two jobs? Okay, so you have like three products, right? And then you say, okay, product, ABC, this product, how does it contribute to number one, the job to be done with people, and how does it contribute to? Well, my well net operating profit, whatever it is, and then there's a lot, a lot of stuff around it in terms of support, documentation, robust usefulness, attractiveness, all these kind of things. But again, like having that as a true north star, I only been using actually mostly the the People aspect. But I've also a yellow when I talk to real estate owners, it's just about Yeah, just talking about net operating profit and real estate value. And, and the Holy Grail in Sweden, it's definitely not about lowering the costs. It's about finding new business models and new revenue. Yeah, exactly. That's the holy grail because that's exponential. The other one is just like what you call a zero sum game. Right? It has a bottom right? Finding new business models, leveraging the data, not necessarily going to Facebook where you're selling the data, but finding ways around it, or in it. That corresponds again, back to number one and two. Of the James Dice. Holy two, right. Yeah, exactly. I think like that's, that's beautiful. I think that's a phenomenon. So we haven't really talked about digital twins that much. Maybe that's for the next episode.

James Dice  1:20:53  

That's for part two. Yeah, we have we have a little bit but but not, not specifically. Well, I think we should wrap up. I want to say thanks. Thanks again, I think this has been valuable conversation for me, I wrote down like 40 different companies that I'm going to have to put in the show notes. And check up on for the for the newsletter.

Nicolas Waern  1:21:17  

Use the building whisper as a code for these companies and you will get a discount.

James Dice  1:21:31  

Got it.

Nicolas Waern  1:21:33  

Probably not. But then the company is going to ask why they're...

James Dice  1:21:37  

Who the hell is the building whisperer? And How do we find him? Yeah. So how do people find you? You can find them on LinkedIn. He's definitely active on LinkedIn. Mostly.

Nicolas Waern  1:21:53  

Yeah, yeah. LinkedIn mostly so and I didn't even say what I'm doing. So I mean, from the company WINNIIO. That's what I'm doing. And I'm consulting me. And a couple of other ones. He's consulting about all this digital transformation and what it means and how in the course corresponds to people and money. That's it.

James Dice  1:22:14  

All right. And yeah, I'll add that to the to the intro of the show before we are for we send it out. Yeah, but let's definitely, let's definitely catch up and do or Part Two sometime. Yeah. And I'm gonna go ahead and hit stop recording. But thank you. Thanks for the time. And thanks for the wisdom. Appreciate it.

Nicolas Waern  1:22:35  

And thanks. Before you use stop, I mean, thanks so much. You actually stopped right? No, I didn't keep you. Yeah. Now, I mean, thanks so much for what you're doing. I mean, I think your blog and the newsletter is phenomenal. Again, like I know I recommended you for your Unissu stuff. I'm gonna keep recommending you for stuff. I think what you're doing is absolutely fantastic. So thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.

James Dice  1:23:00  

Music to my ears. Thanks a lot.


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