"I am just back from BuilConn 2003 (www.builconn.com) and am extremely pleased to have been involved as a contributor to the content board, a moderator for several sessions, a panelist for two sessions, plus an overall fan of the BuilConn concept.

Anto Budiardjo's hallucination grew into a vision, shared first by a few and then more. The input from the more and their respective mosaics of different but similar large building integration businesses converted the shared vision into a reality. Even with the created reality of BuilConn, there was still concern as to whether we could transfer this vision to a fragmented industry, then throw in a few more obstacles such as a war and SARS to test if this concept was really viable. Suddenly, it was showtime: BuilConn 2003, April 23-25. No more time to think and worry.

Well, they came, over 200. They first thought they were hallucinating, but then their blurred visions of what they had never seen before started to clear as they saw an industry in a metamorphosis of interacting, networking, and generally just getting on with it. The spirit of the crowd was infectious as it fed on itself, creating a feeling of cooperation and objectivity never seen before in our industry. They all got it: Moving ahead in today's market is going to require teambuilding, and this event allowed them to be in on the first pick of players.

I do not want the feeling of the last few days at BuilConn to end. I want to transfer it to all my readers by challenging them to go where they have never gone and do what they have never done, creating a metamorphosis to the future."

My wish to not let the feeling of those few days end was granted. The hard work of the CABA XML/Web Services Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Paul Ehrlich of Trane Global Controls & Contracting, has accomplished a great deal since its first meeting in April 2003 at BuilConn.

This committee has created the XML Symposium 2004 (www.xml-symposium.com), which was hosted by CABA and Clasma Inc. in conjunction with ASHRAE/AHR Expo in January in Anaheim, CA.

I was lucky enough to be moderator of one of the panels of extraordinary gentlemen listed below. That panel ensured that my excitement about what started over a year ago did not end.

I moderated the panel the discussion on XML-related HVAC industry initiatives and views, with the following panelists: Paul Ehrlich, chair, oBIX (open Building Information Xchange); Barry Haaser, executive director, LonMark International; Jim Lee, president, BMA (BACnet Manufacturers Association); John Kennedy, aecXML; Wayne Dunn, ASHRAE; and Mark Palmer, FIATECH.

It is my belief that the XML symposium delivered a cohesive vision of XML and its impact on the HVAC industry.

In addition to the creation of the XML symposium, this committee has morphed into a new identity called oBIX (open building information exchange), which is a focused effort by industry leaders and associations working towards creating a standard XML and Web services guideline to facilitate the exchange of information between intelligent buildings, to enable enterprise application integration, and to bring forth true systems integration.

Did I mention the feeling did not end, but grew, gaining speed, emotion, positive direction, and a general industry acceptance?

Real Time To Integrate Opinions

All of us are very excited about where BuilConn 2004 (April 13-16) in Dallas may lead us and about what new vibrations and feelings will be transferred to the industry. We know that creating valuable connections to our client's enterprise will be an extremely hot topic, as well as how to walk and talk IT.

The transition from automation subcontractor to super-convergence contractor is a mindblowing transition for most. Questions abound. Do we lead by selling convergence? Do we follow by team building with existing IT professionals? Do we become an active part of our client's enterprise? How do we restructure our companies to match our new identity? What new industries must we sell and understand to survive?

I am not sure that BuilConn 2004 will answer all these questions, but the presentation tracks - plus the banter in the meeting rooms, halls, and coffee areas - will be by folks with many of these questions on their minds. The purveyors of the real-time data industry who strongly believe in standards will be there, demonstrating the interaction of their wares to help guide you to your own decision. We will see you there. ES