In the Trenches with Maguire’s Anzor Zurhaev

Source: Reposted from: In the Trenches with Maguire’s Anzor Zurhaev
In this week’s ‘In the Trenches’, Chris Saah, CIO, Transwestern chats with Anzor Zurhaev, VP, Maguire Properties on how Anzor is working closely with his VP of Engineering and executive team to drive Maguire’s prospective building automation strategy.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me this morning.  We like to use “In the Trenches” to discuss challenges and success we all face in the industry. Can you tell us what you have on your plate these days? Well, smart building infrastructure is the big opportunity we are working on right now.  We have seven showcase buildings in downtown LA including US Bank Tower and Wells Fargo center that we’d like to manage from a centralized operational center.
How’s that been going?
We are still in the information gathering stage. There are a lot of moving parts and the investment is significant, so we are still exploring things such as what is the right protocol to use.  For example, we are looking at BACnet vs. LonWorks.  We are also looking for someone who might be able to help us through the process; I’ve reached out to Howard Berger is helping to connect me with folks that can help us.
A project like that requires a lot of collaboration within the company. Are you getting the cooperation you need?
Absolutely! I am blessed to have a true partner in our VP of Engineering. This is a space that is typically handled by engineering and you must have trust and a close working relationship with that team to succeed. We have that so I am confident we can work together to implement the right technology that will make them more efficient and effective.
It reminds me of the state of telephony a few years ago. That was typically not IT’s space, but as it became more complex and converged with the rest of the network, we became more involved.  The same is happening now with engineering.
This is going to be a big investment for Maguire.
It is a complex and costly upfront investment. It will be significant – in the millions. It would be ideal if I could find someone who would implement the technology upfront and partner in the payback over 5 or 10 years. It would also be great if there were an industry standard or best practice for implementation of this technology.  It would serve as a blueprint and make it easier for us to develop our own specific scope in a more efficient manner.
Do you think you have the executive sponsorship you need to take this through to implementation?
Well again, I am fortunate to have incredible leaders here that understand the benefits of technology.  The onus is on me to make the business case in their language. Engineering already sees the benefit so I am halfway there. Now I need to prove the concept and make the case to business.
So you are really taking a strategic role in moving your company’s game forward.
You know, we often talk about the strategic role of the CIO and I ask myself “What does that mean?”.  I think the strategic role varies with industry, time, and circumstances.  For example, like many in our industry, we have just come through a very difficult time during which controlling cash and liquidity were the number one priorities. During this time, my strategic value was in containing costs. Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we feel we are over the hump, being strategic means looking at longer term costs and determining how technology can contain those.  As I see it, in a few years, if you are not employing smart building technology you will be at a serious disadvantage in your ability to efficiently and cost effectively operate buildings.
Well it sounds like your leadership is allowing you to have this strategic role.
They are, but at the same time I feel like the burden is on us CIOs.  We are the ones that determine our role in the company. The more I add strategic value, the more I will be invited to function at an executive level. The more I achieve an executive role, the easier it will be for my successor to function in that role.  We cannot expect to be entitled to a given role. We create our role within a company by what we contribute.
Well said, Anzor. Thanks so much for your time today.