Your Real Estate Portfolio Master Plan Deserves A Master Systems Integrator

Imagine you’re the owner of a football team. Do you rely on each of your players to play their position as best they can? Or do you count on your head coach to lead the team to a championship ring? Leading a team of controls, fire, security, lighting and IT systems contractors without a Master Systems Integrator is like trying to win a championship without a head coach!


So, what is a Master Systems Integrator (MSI)? It is possible you already have an MSI and may not realize it. Do you have a trusted building systems subject matter expert that you rely on when you find yourself looking for ideas that would push your real estate portfolio into the future? Do you often call on them to help you leverage technology and innovation when making critical business decisions? How about when you have an upcoming project that needs clear vision and direction… who do you call? More than likely, you have a group of highly skilled and talented contractors that you call on depending on your needs, but having an MSI in your corner is like having a championship-winning head coach that can help you lead your team of superstars to the next level.


With technology expanding and changing at an exponential rate, it is more important than ever to consider adding an MSI to your planning and decision-making process. An MSI will have a wide breadth of systems and technology experience with the ability to speak on multiple disciplines and provide you with insight into industry trends. The term Application Program Interface (API) is something that would excite them to discuss possibilities of transforming your portfolio of DDC connected devices to buildings of the future that use APIs to accomplish multi-platform integration into a true IOT environment.


However, beware controls contractors that tout themselves as an MSI but do not have a proven record in the marketplace.


There currently are three layers of controls contractors that may identify as an MSI.


  1. Controls service and maintenance only contractors typically specialize in dealing with existing systems and go no further than fixing components and programming to ensure a functioning system. Service only contractors typically deal with an end-user facility maintenance staff and lack the capability for complicated installations, schedule coordination, and construction project management.
  2. Systems Integrators with installation and project management capabilities work with new systems in a major renovation and new construction environments. They are skilled in dealing with construction managers and design professionals. Adhering to budget, schedule, system start-up and commissioning is key to their success. This is a controls contractor that has specific capabilities in designing, installing and commissioning systems with graphical user interfaces that control HVAC equipment to optimize occupant comfort, energy consumption and reliability.
  3. Master Systems Integrators are skilled in leveraging data visualization and analytics across your different systems. They are knowledgeable and experienced with how your systems interact with each other so that they may integrate them to provide you with optimal system controllability, visibility and functionality. A true MSI will partner with other controls contractors and systems integrators to execute your vision.


Often, MSIs start off as a control contractor that mature into systems integrators over time. As the system integrator builds expertise on broader systems, such as lighting and energy management, they are called to consult on portfolio planning and enterprise-level projects that require higher levels of training and experience. When they consistently prove their value to their customers, they are highly sought after as a Master Systems Integrator who can help deliver a building owner’s short- and long-term plans.


McKenney’s Automation has been an MSI in the industry for over 8 years and has served very large campuses in both Atlanta and Charlotte markets.



About Kristian Hernandez


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Kristian Hernandez is the Operations Manager for Automation and Controls Solutions at McKenney’s and is responsible for leading the controls operations at our company. He has spent more than a decade leading teams in delivering automation and control systems for a variety of commercial buildings with an uncompromising focus on customer service.

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