Q&A – Geert van Offeren, strategic product marketing specialist

January 18, 2018 by John Hatcher
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Q&A – Geert van Offeren, strategic product marketing specialist

Geert van Offeren is an expert in the corporate real estate and facility management industry since 1993. Working experience as a facility manager and senior consultant before starting to work for Planon, the global leading Integrated Workplace Management Solutions (IWMS) vendor, in 2006. With Planon, Geert has been in the role of business consultant and recently as strategic product marketing specialist.

How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
As an expert in the industry, I am always interested in innovation and achieving smart, efficient, productive and innovative workplace environments. In addition, I am always looking for new and innovative solutions that support the optimisation of the work environment based on organisational objectives. Following this, I have seen early initiatives in creating smart building solutions, the first generation solutions to measure space occupancy through sensor technology and optimising space occupancy. Since the first smart building solutions came to the market a few years ago, I have continuously followed new developments on smart buildings and Internet of Things, read numerous articles and content and have visited multiple events. Currently one of my focus points in product marketing is our Internet of Things and smart buildings strategy.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
What currently excites me is how we really can make our buildings smart and develop relevant and valuable use cases for organisations and the opportunities it provides for our industry and building owners and occupiers. To me, a smart building is not just a building that is equipped with technology and sensors that provide data. To me a smart building is a building that enables us to collect, aggregate and analyse data and the fact that both the building and we as managers and occupants can ‘learn and predict’ from this data.  This means that we have to use artificial intelligence and machine learning and predictive analysis to create learning buildings and real smart solutions.
For example, with learning and predictive analysis facility managers and real estate managers are able to pro-actively adapt the space in their buildings to meet the demand while enabling longer-term strategic space and real estate decision making.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
As mentioned, artificial intelligence and machine learning are the next level in the smart building industry. Artificial intelligence is intelligence displayed by machines. Machine learning is a method used to establish models and algorithms to achieve predictive analytics. These analytical models allow stakeholders to produce reliable, repeatable decisions and results through learning from historical relationships and trends in the data. Buildings are then becoming connected, human-centric and intelligent workspaces with an intuitive awareness and learning and predictive ability of (for example) occupancy and utilization. Buildings really become ‘smart’, which enables employees to do their jobs faster, and enable organisations to create an efficient, effective, attractive and healthy workplace and make ‘life’ easier for facility managers and real estate managers to monitor, manage, learn and predict about their buildings and act to achieve improvements
What services does your company offer?
Planon sells, implements and maintains software for Integrated Workplace Management (IWMS). Specifically regarding Internet of Things and Smart Buildings, Planon provides smart building data solutions by aggregating and analysing data from all relevant and available sources (for example sensors) to support workplace objectives on workplace efficiency and effectiveness and the creation of an attractive and healthy workplace.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
To be honest, I doubt this. The collection and availability of data, not only in relation to smart buildings, is increasing exponentially and this will lead to enormous challenges in execution and security of data. A good example is the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). This will be enforced on May 25, 2018 and assume that many organisations are not ready for this regulation.
What are the benefits of a smart building?
There many potential benefits of a smart building. Potential cost savings in buildings exploitation, creation of an efficient and effective work environment that supports organisational objectives, creation of building user satisfaction, improvement of building and installation performance, retaining workforce talent by creation of an attractive and/or healthy workplace are all potential benefits. However, it is important and crucial for organisations to determine which smart building use cases are relevant and valuable to the organisation, facility and real estate manager and occupants. In addition, it is important to establish a valid business case from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective to determine if a smart building solution delivers added value to the organisation. So always, start with establishing relevant and valuable use cases and determine valid business cases.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
There is not a specific person that comes to mind, so many people had and still have a positive influence on my life and career. That varies from my wife and relatives who always support me and stand by me to influencing people from the world of business, culture, sports, technology and politics.
What are the best/worst things about your job?
What I really like about my job is that I have the opportunity to continuously look for new developments and innovations in our industry and that it gives me the opportunity to research what technology can bring to the industry of CRE and FM. In addition, I have the opportunity to do my job as flexibly as possible. Working anyplace, anytime, anywhere, that is how I want do my job. That is also where there is still room for improvement, our society and working environment can and should be far more flexible. There are still excessively many traditional and fixed workspaces in organisations. I think we should really make the next steps there and start adjusting workspaces to the objectives of the organisation and specific demands.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
That is an advice that I would give to anyone. Set your goals, believe in them and work hard every day with discipline, the right attitude and passion. Make sure that you enjoy the journey that will lead you to achieving your goals.
What living person do you admire and why?
Following my previous answer I admire everybody that is capable of doing so.
Where would you most like to live?
That is an easy one, which is where I live currently. My wife and I have recently deliberately chosen to move from the city of Amsterdam (where I was born and raised) to a small village close to the city. Comfortable small country living close to our favourite city.
What is your favourite book?
There are so many books that I like to read. I am a sports fan so I read many sports books, but I like good biographies as well. Furthermore, I like books about the industry that I work in and technology. Moreover, I like cookbooks because I like to cook, but it is not that I ‘read’ them.
How do you relax?
This would be a very relaxing day for me: Start the day waking up in a warm and sunny place. Then have breakfast outside with good coffee and an original newspaper. Followed by playing a round of golf on a breath-taking course. Have a good lunch and afterwards siesta with a good book and a glass of wine in the sun. In the evening, have an excellent and capacious diner and if the occasion is there go to a club.
What sports team do you support?
Ajax Amsterdam soccer team
What is your desert island disk?
The Essential Endless Mix of Deep House
What is your ideal holiday?
Sunny climate, good food, discovery of places I have not been to, combination of action and relaxing, comfortable lodging.

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