How high is the bar in my chosen niche, storytelling for buildings professionals? Spreading word through their highly fragmented industries and markets is hard. So winning pick-up by more than a handful of cross-discipline hub-influencers is ‘viral’. Recently, McKenney’s, a well-established building systems integration and contracting firm out of Atlanta, achieved that goal with its story about a building analytics solution it implemented at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
I first heard of the McKenney’s case study via my LinkedIn automatedbuildings.com group, a group run by online magazine editor Ken Sinclair that now counts over 2000 members. McKenney’s has a Technology Evangelist that participates in the group who first posted the story abstract along with links to the video. Control component distributor turned Online Marketing Personality, Eric Stromquist is one of the most active participants in the group and runs the site controltrends.org. He interviewed McKenney’s VP Leroy Walden at IBcon, an annual tradeshow about commercial real estate tech. Walden gave the Eglin story another shout-out in the IBcon interview. Reaching the IT types with the Big Data angle on the story, Larry Dignan of ZDNet wrote this piece. Another significant pick-up was a column by Paul Ehrlich, lead consultant with the Building Intelligence Group and well-respected industry observer. He writes
“What is most interesting about this new solution is the approach that they have used. Instead of designing their own analytic engine they have chosen to use a “big data” tool provided by Splunk. Splunk is one of a number of software providers (including SAS, SAP, Oracle, and many others) that are focused on building tools for analyzing big data. Bringing tools to bear that are developed for other markets has great benefits in terms of speed to market, and scalability. After all at the end of the day “data is data” and whether it comes from a building system or the sales information of a large retailer, the same tools and techniques can readily be applied.”
You can hear authenticity and confidence in Brian Gilmore’s voice when he talks about the solution he conceived and implemented. Engineering firms like McKenney’s are best positioned to leverage big data analytics to make buildings more comfortable and energy efficient. Such regional contractors know the buildings they service best, and they typically have the trust of their owner/operator customers. This gives them ownership of the ‘choke point’ in the value chain. A big-brand IT or building equipment company would be at a comparative storytelling disadvantage. The story gets additional share-worthy points because the customer is the U.S. Military, who is making great and well-publicized strides towards high energy performance goals in all its activities.
IBM, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric etc. are all regularly pushing out big-data and IT/building automation convergence stories with big budget campaigns. If percentage mind-share per dollar could be measured, I bet McKenney’s/Splunk came way out ahead here.