Q&A - David Platt, IBM

January 05, 2017 by John Hatcher
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Q&A - David Platt, IBM

David Platt is associate partner in IBM’s Global Centre of Competence for Engineering, Construction & Operations (EC&O). David is an accomplished supply chain professional with substantial experience in business consulting and operations. With a track record and reputation for pragmatic delivery of challenging transformation programs, David is known for finding innovative ways to accelerate delivery of benefits. His passion is for delivering transformational change and value to his clients.

How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?

I must admit my background is in manufacturing but I started to get involved in Smart Buildings when I recognized that the industry had an appetite for improving information management. I started to learn about BIM and it became apparent to me that the industry wanted to learn from others to help it transform. I thought my background in manufacturing could be put to great use in this.   

What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?

What I find really exciting is the opportunity that it presents. It feels like the stars are aligned between the level of maturity in the industry that requires change, the appetite for change in the industry and the technology available now to accelerate this change. These three things create the perfect storm.

Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
I think there is a huge amount of things emerging now. From how sensors will work in the future, how energy will be managed with Smart Grids, 3D printing, wearables, the use of experiential technology like augmented reality, virtual reality, body sensors, gamification, AI, robots and drones. Fundamentally what’s currently on the radar is to get the foundation right – cloud based platforms and the ability to capture and understand the data that is available out there. If you can’t do that you can’t capitalize on these more advanced technologies.

What services does your company offer?
IBM is very focused on helping companies transform by making the most of cloud-based technologies plus the software and services that support that. What may be less obvious to some is that IBM as an organization has the capability and the scale to really integrate ecosystems. We can pull together the key operators, service providers and technologies to create these ecosystems around buildings, estates or other assets. We have that capability and, more fundamentally, we provide the platform.

Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
I think the industry is becoming more regulated and people are generally aware of the need for regulation and standardization. The more open the data, the more open the platforms, the more open the collaboration, the more need there is for regulation and standardization. I think people are aware of that, however the adoption of it is still in its infancy.

What are the benefits of a smart building?
There are the usual things: total cost of ownership, OPEX, speed of being able to construct and react, the management of risk. However, the real benefit is the outcome: the user experience and the performance of the asset/building. You have to think about the experience and performance of people who use and interact with that space and how you increase productivity.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
It’s a “what” rather than a “who”, I think. My biggest influence was my own instinct. I always followed what I’m interested in. I know what fires me up and I don’t believe I’m anywhere near as productive if I’m not passionate about what I’m doing. My mantra is “Follow your passion and you will be successful”. It’s not going to necessarily be the most obvious career move, but it guarantees that I am interested in what I’m doing.

What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
Without a doubt it’s some form of “What is the business case?”  As soon as people get excited about innovation and the promise of something new, inevitably this question follows. To make change and innovation work it has to be underpinned by a solid commercial foundation. If it doesn’t pay back it doesn’t stick.

What are the best/worst things about your job?
I really enjoy working with clients, pushing boundaries and introducing innovation. I love that, as an IBMer, I get to see innovation first hand in the early development stages.
The worst things are all the inevitable administrative processes – something I’m sure we’re all well aware of no matter which organization we work for.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
The same advice that I give myself: follow your passion. To this I would add be yourself and talk straight, say it like it is.

What living person do you admire and why?
Eddie Jones, England rugby manager and coach. He’s been able to sprinkle fairy dust on the England team and he has done a remarkable job of bringing the best out of the people he’s working with. That’s an art that very few people really have.

Where would you most like to live?
I live in Farnham in Surrey and I’m really happy living there. However if I had to move I’d go to Cape Town. It’s a vibrant place, full of opportunity. I love Africa. Cape Town is as European as you can get within the continent. It’s a great melting pot of cultures & vibrancy.

What is your favorite book?
Can I have two? My favorite book is Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. It’s a fantastic story about an incredible person. I enjoyed reading it.
The book that immediately springs to mind after this one is David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I took a year out and went backpacking around Africa and this was the only book I brought. I read it so many times and I never got bored of it. It was a brilliant book.

How do you relax?
By putting my phone on silent (laughs). I love spending time with my kids, doing sports and enjoying life outside of work.

What sports team do you support?
Farnham Rugby Club. Perhaps not the premier division of sporting clubs but I coach there. I spend a lot of time there, so that is the club I support most. Also I am a very enthusiastic follower of the England rugby team.

What is your desert island disk?
I cannot pick one. I’d rather not take one than only have one, so I will choose two. I’d have to say Old Man by Neil Young and Whole Lot of Rosie by AC/DC. A slow one and one that’s more fired up.

What is your ideal holiday?
I’d have to be skiing. I love the Dolomites. It’s a beautiful part of the world and the mountains have an incredible shape.

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