Q&A - David Lee, MPL Technology Group

January 26, 2017 by John Hatcher
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Q&A - David Lee, MPL Technology Group

David Lee has over 30 years’ experience in international sales, marketing and business development in the IT/data centre industry. Having worked closely with clients at FTSE 100, Fortune 500 companies, financial services institutions, education, government and outsourced organizations, he is widely regarded as being a trusted adviser & colleague.

How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
Data centres are the original smart buildings, if you take the definition to be any structure that uses automated processes to automatically control the building's operations including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, security and other systems.  We have been proactive in helping companies maximise efficiency and problem-solve in this environment since 2004.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
The technology is maturing and is now able to be optimised and used on a mass scale for all sorts of buildings now.  For us that means that we can help more companies, and develop our offerings further.  It’s also good for our planet if we manage to achieve improved efficiency, user experience and reduced operational costs in more buildings around the world.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
It’s worth keeping an eye on what the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is doing for manufacturing, but also how this will impact businesses.  The phrase may have been coined by GE, but we, in the data centre industry, have been using these principles in earnest since before 2010. The Industrial IoT is strongly focused on improving the efficiency, safety, and productivity of operations with a focus on return on investment, and will become more prevalent – if not imperative - in Smart Buildings in the next few years.  
The IoT is how apps serve the consumer, whereas IIoT is how the physical infrastructure is managed to enable this.
What services does your company offer?
MPL Technology Group is a Global leader in the development, production and integration of advanced Software and Hardware solutions to support the delivery and operation of efficient IT infrastructures worldwide.
As a pioneer in the development of in-rack and in-line power devices since 2004, we have enabled major global corporations to monitor power consumption on their most critical and costly IT infrastructure. With a strong presence in the financial sector where the portfolio of IT equipment is arguably at its most expansive, we have been able to design and customize solutions in abundance allowing for strong business growth. We have in excess of 60,000 devices installed across 22 countries world-wide, and this coverage has enabled the business to build solid partnerships with both customers and their associated partners on a local level.
MPL’s international expertise in hardware, software and relevant services in combination with a product range offering that is fully modular and bespoke, allows us the most comprehensive, high-quality problem-solving capabilities in the IT and mission-critical infrastructure arena to enable the most efficient and highly available environments.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
From a Landlord’s point of view, there are some legal changes, which are coming into effect.  How widely that message has been broadcast is uncertain. From a data centre point of view, we have been working towards the 2020 EU Renewable Energy targets for some time now, and many data centres have exceeded those goals already, but a lot are older and possibly are not able to meet them without major infrastructure updates projects.  We also have the EU Code of Conduct for data centres, which provides industry recognised energy efficient best practices for data centres, and which was initiated in 2008.
What are the benefits of a smart building?
We see smart buildings offering the same benefits as a well-run data centre.

  • Efficient planning and use of resources. Makes the site greener and more cost-effective.
  • Self-monitoring and alerting. Saves on walk-rounds and time spent on troubleshooting.
  • Consumption-model – needs and activity based facility. Why run services when they are not required – keep the costs down.
  • Big Data enables economies of scale across multiple buildings. Power procurement, for example, across multiple buildings can be forecast and negotiations with suppliers can proceed.
  • Set up to operate at a high standard, for maximum tenant / client retention. This is the same for DC clients as it is for building tenants – if the site is run well, the experience will be good, and the clients stay.
  • Increased productivity of a well-run site – less time spent on fire-fighting. Time is spent on preventative maintenance rather than fixing problems, which makes for happier staff and clients.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
Having been in business since the age of 19, the most influential people in my career were at the very start, I just didn’t realise it at the time. Senior management people in the 90’s Norman Jackson and Ralph Kelsall spoke of the need for ‘clean shoes’ and ‘clean cars’ to make a first impression. Listening more than speaking, it’s why you have two ears and one mouth, and to always deliver one’s promises.
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
Where’s the next million in sales coming from!!
What are the best/worst things about your job?
Travel…
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
To get fully trained, certified, & accredited – and to surround yourself with positive people.
What living person do you admire and why?
Michael Dell – he has always re-invented himself and his company, and right from the beginning always believed that with hard work and great products he would be successful. A brilliant autobiography too.
Where would you most like to live?
New York – such a vibrant colourful city!!
What is your favourite book?
Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography – KP.  I read the entire book on a flight to New York.
How do you relax?
Family time, trying to be a better Father & husband.
What sports team do you support?
There is only ONE sports team in the world – the Mighty Whites of Leeds United.
What is your desert island disk?
A difficult question – the musical Les Miserables CD 25th Anniversary UK tour live – featuring my favourite singer John Owen-Jones.
What is your ideal holiday?
Twin centre Dubai & Mauritius – perfect mix of down town sightseeing and all-inclusive relaxing in the sunshine!! We did this for my wife’s 40th birthday. Perfect.

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