James Massey is managing director, facilities and energy management at MRI Software.

James was appointed strategy director and later managing director, facilities and energy management at MRI Software, following the company’s acquisition of social housing software provider Castleton Technology in 2020, where he was the chief operations officer. James is responsible for driving the company’s global offering of commercial FM proptech solutions.

James and his team are committed to empowering MRI’s customers with data for more intelligent business decisions and a connected digital-first experience.

How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?

I have always had a keen interest in property technology, going back to the early 2000’s working in social housing and local government. As my career has progressed it has become more and more obvious that we need more technology in buildings (ideally in the fabric of those buildings) to start to drive out efficiencies in terms of cost but also quality – this path got me into Internet of Things around 2012 and I have continued to build on that ever since.

What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?

If I think about where people Live, Work and Play I consider how technology can make that experience the best it can be, if I sit in a meeting room and its too hot / cold I get annoyed by the fact that technology should help this, I find great solace in seeing technology in action – be that ours or technology in general, I am a firm believer in technology enhancing the built environment and the more I can influence this, the better those spaces should become.

Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of?

I consider all technology useful however I would have to point out that with solutions like ChatGPT are the “next big thing” – I would say maybe bigger than the internet (debatable point but still) – AI and machine learning are going to radically change how we consume information going forward, however its not without its risks as I have raised many times as have a number of global AI leaders.

What services does your organisation offer?

MRI software offer a wide range of Property Technology, be that around FM, energy, core property management, lease accounting, lease abstraction, payment management, ID checking – all tied into the places we Live, Work and Play in. Critically we are an open and connected partner, our ecosystems obviously interact with themselves but also we welcome other suppliers to interact with us, a walled platform is not one we see as sustainable in these times.

Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?

The positive news here is yes I think people are aware, the amount of press and publication in our space is outstanding and the people in charge of that compliance are very much “open and connected” – they are challenging us as technology providers to give solutions (including the latest issue around RAAC) to give them the best chance of being compliant.

What are the benefits of a smart building?

A “smart building” has to enhance, support and deliver – if it can do all of those things it is doing it’s role, by this I mean to enhance someone’s use of that building, support the people who maintain it and deliver excellence in terms of its facilities (for example) – a truly smart building should do this as its core role but then as we learn more with solutions like AI, why not continue to enhance those benefits – why not start to understand more around behaviour and use technology to “deliver better”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

There have been many people in my career who have influenced me, also those who put faith in my – being a COO of a PLC business at 37 years old was quite an achievement! If I had to name one person it would be a former sales manager of mine (John, I will leave his surname out for privacy) – he taught me many lessons but one key one is to always keep yourself grounded and always be relatable, the minute you stop listening is the minute you stop learning – a mantra I live by on a daily basis.

What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?

How do you manage to fit in everything that you do and how do you keep connected? My answer is simple, I am very methodical around my time management, I use every minute of every day (life isn’t a rehearsal so use that time wisely) and critically I empower my teams to do their roles to the absolute best of their ability – one key attribute in management is trust, you have to trust your team to do what you employed them to do – or else whats the point?

What are the best/worst things about your job?

Best part is the people and seeing great technology in use (and making a difference), the worst part of the job is the opposite I guess, seeing technology implemented and not used or worse still, shelf-ware!

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

It’s a great sector to bring new ideas and new ways of thinking – just think them through at a “realistic” level. Its OK to challenge the norm as the world is moving so fast, I am not sure anyone knows what the “norm” is anymore. Make connections and keep them, people move around the space and it’s always good to have people you can turn to for advise. I would 100% recommend this space as a space to grow into a global role (if that’s your thing) as every country on the planet has buildings and therefore the options are endless!

What living person do you admire and why?

Elon Musk – pure commitment to himself, his goals and his willingness to defy the normal. A true visionary who will leave a mark on most of our lives in due course.

Where would you most like to live?

Palm Beach, Florida

What is your favourite book?

Stephen King, The Shining

How do you relax?

Shooting, Golf (badly), Dog walking and relaxing in my “garden bar” (covid project)

What sports team do you support?

Stoke City Football Club

What is your desert island disk?

Oasis – What’s the Story

What is your ideal holiday?

One that involves a digital detox, time with the family, self-reflection and good food!