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16 August 2018

Business Consultant David Karpook: ‘I’m excited every day what I’m going to hear and read about in terms of new innovations’

When we think about 2025 it seems ages from now and a lot of us imagine a completely different world, but in reality, it is less than ten years away and we already have a good idea what will be possible by then. In this series of two we will interview Planon employees and ask them how technology can be helpful in the field of facility management and may solve problems in the area of space, keeping accurate records and to be more efficient. We also dive into what overall tech trends they find interesting and what they do or do not see becoming a reality in the coming years.

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David Karpook, Business Consultant for the Planon North American office, looks at a client’s business processes and aligns them with their technology strategy. He is also responsible for managing Planon’s partner program in North America. David works with organisations like IFMA and Corenet, has had articles published in many journals and does public speaking about the subject of technology.

When were you first involved with software and technology?

I’m an architect by training and worked as an architect construction project manager, as a facility manager for seven years before coming into the software and technology industry and I have been in software for over 20 years now.

What does technology mean for you?

Technology is a tool. And I think it is important to keep it in perspective. Technology itself does not solve any problems, but if you identify a problem and you understand what is needed to correct the problem, technology can often be a useful mechanism to move towards that solution. However we should keep in mind that the main driver for using new technology is contributing to our customers ‘business’.

How do you keep up to date ‘about’ technology?

I rely a lot on journals like the Harvard Business Review and MIT Technology Review. They are business focused but often write about technology in the context of business. I have also been an avid follower of Gartner Research. When it comes to technology they do some of the most interesting research in the field. Always if you have got a question about a topic, whether it is the Internet of Things, Blockchain or 3D printing, it is well worth looking to see what Gartner has written about it. Gartner is very careful to pay attention to differences in geography and has analysts in a variety of cities all over the world.

What is your favourite ‘tech’ or ‘smart’ city?

I can’t say that there is one country or city that captures my attention or made me a fan in that sense. I’m very interested in what is happening in Asia, in China, in Singapore, in Thailand, in Japan and in India. I feel like some of those Asian countries are leapfrogging over some previous generations of technology that Americans, because we adopted them earlier, are still stuck on. I think some of the Asian countries have been able to move faster and make strides into the future that we are still struggling with in the United States. They are able to because they did not have these earlier generations of technology embedded in their cultures.

Japan, especially, is a technology and innovation leader, creating fun and cool gadgetsas well useful technology products. You must have some favourites!

Yes, certainly. The technology that I’m very fascinated by right now and always looking for new case studies and usages of, is 3D printing (also called additive manufacturing). I think that holds promise for a number of reasons. One of which that I have really just become beware of is environmentally. The efficiency of 3D printing and the way that it uses 100% of the resources that it taps into. Unlike traditional manufacturing where there is just a ton of waste. I worked briefly on a project with the IFMA foundation that was looking at a student project, it was theoretical, it was about stablishing a colony on Mars. Here, 3D printing was a necessary technology to create spare parts to build things. Because of course you could not easily ship anything there. I think it is going to have an enormous effect on our future all around the world. 3D printing is a technology that may surprise us with how quickly it enters the Facility Management world. If you can 3D print a spare part, rather than having to order it or even go to the local hardware store to get it you have created some real efficiencies within your organisation.

What relatively new ‘tech gadgets’ do you use on a daily basis?

Yeah, this may sound prosaic, but I would say the one that has attracted my attention on a daily basis and that I use more and more is voice recognition. In particular with Siri. I have learned that I can type less and less. As much as I love my iPhone, typing on that little keyboard is not the easiest. I’m actually using Siri every day. It surprised me what kind of complex commands it can understand.

I think voice recognition technology, which we have experimented with at Planon of course at one of our tradeshows is a technology that very quickly is going to have a big impact on how we manage facilities.

What do you expect to be a technology trend (general) and a technology trend that we should be paying attention to for the Facility management world in 10 years from now?

Robotics is certainly one that should be paid attention to by Facility Management. I often in my public speaking talk about things that we can expect in the Facility Management world, with regard to robotics. Currently there are many situations and conditions that facility management personel are engaged with, that are dangerous.  Working in high voltage situations, on the roofs, tall buildings, or in spaces that are contaminated with, for example, asbestos. I think these are perfect opportunities for the introduction of robots to manage some of the activities that need to happen in those places and thereby protect the humans, who currently are required to have certain certifications and training to be in these dangerous areas. Beyond that I think that in FM robots have the potential to make deliveries: office supplies, coffee, catering. In hospitals robots are already being used to deliver medications to patients or transport people to examinations.

Which technology trends do you see for Planon?

We as Planon have to keep our eye open on how quickly the trends we just spoke about are emerging. For example: I think right now that one of Planon’s strongest functionalities is stores management. That will always be important, but it will be interesting to see how quickly comes a day, that what we store in Planon is less information about the number of spare parts we have on hand, than the drawings that will allow those parts to be produced on an as-needed basis. Similarly with resource allocation, we do a great job with allocating the use of people so it will be interesting to see how quickly we begin to incorporate the allocation of robotics tools into that. What I think is great about Planon is that we have teams of people who are working on innovation projects and keeping an eye on innovations. We do not want to get too far ahead of the curve, in terms of productising them. But we absolutely need to stay on top of the trends and be ready to act when the market is ready.

How ready are you for the next innovations in technology?

I have seen such a revolution in technology, that what I have learned that whatever we think might be on the horizon, there is going to be 10 times more of it and it is going to come out more quickly. I don’t think any of us (who are a little bit older), could have predicted the impact that things like the iPhone have on our personal lives. And on our business lives, such as how important iPhone or Android based mobile applications are to our customers in their business. When I started in this field, what we considered mobile where those big giant barcode scanners that really did not do anything. And now you can pretty much run Planon on an iPhone. As one of Planon’s more mature employees, I think the transformation I have seen in this area that I love so much is buildings and how they work. I’m excited every day about what I’m going to hear about and what I’m going to read about in terms of new innovations. So bring it on.

David Karpook
Vice President of Operations, North America