The is the first blog in a 2 part series. In part 1, George celebrates 25 years of BPD Zenith. In part 2, George answers the Director’s burning questions.
17 February 2019 marked an important milestone for BPD Zenith as we celebrated our 25th year as global asset management specialists. As part of our celebrations, we interviewed our global CEO George Lightfoot. We managed to catch a rare moment with George, to discuss BPD Zenith and his achievements over the last 25 years.
“Well, at the time, I’d become disenfranchised with PSDI (who later became MRO), who IBM eventually bought to own the Maximo product. PSDI were doing things differently than the way I’d hoped they would, so I said we’ll go off and do something exciting which was to build a new software product called ‘Does It For You’ with a chap called Duško Delic – and off we went to make our fortunes.
And the rest, as they say – is all history!”
“We were brave young men looking to set up a software company and Duško (who’d authored the software) said we need a snappy name that you can be trendy with. He wanted to be something like ‘Big Blue’, which was IBM’s moniker at the time. I said, ‘well, why don’t we be a different BIG colour, like polka dot?’ (not realizing this wasn’t a color; it was actually just a pattern!)’
As things transpired, we probably stopped doing that software (Does It For You) within about a year of being ‘Big Polka Dot’ but we kept the three initials. It was quite ironic really that within the 25 years (about 15 years later), IBM bought the product that we worked extensively with (Maximo) and ‘Big Polka Dot’ met up with ‘Big Blue’.”
“The quality of the people has just gone up and up and up. The implementations have got bigger, the tools that we use have got more extensive and easier to use, but they do more for you and our products have expanded quite considerably.
We used to just sell a service and now we sell just about everything – from the start of an implementation of a Maximo product all the way through to the final closing out of a Maximo product. Our whole line has changed and the quality lengths that we actually go to in today’s market is completely different.”
“They’ve expanded quite a lot. In the early days of Maximo, we were definitely Works Management and the work order element of a system like Maximo was always the heart of it. We now regularly integrate the Supply Chain management side of a business which has historically always been as part of the product. As Maximo has become more popular, the footprint of Maximo within businesses has also expanded.
With the extra industry functionality that you get, you now touch many more parts of a business’s process and the integrated pieces that go with it, so we tend to do more interfaces. Generally speaking, we pick up 4 or 5 interfaces per implementation as well as mobile… and of course, we’ve always done data! But the data has expanded too because it’s a bigger system and there’s more landing points for Maximo to take on.
So, all-in-all we just do more and it’s become a much bigger toolset to play with. We’ve also increased the volume of people in various areas of the product. So, we have experts in data migration, the integration framework, Works Management and Supply Chain.”
“There’s a few so it would be unfair to just pick out one of those but seeing Barry Brough (along with a few others that work with us) reach the 20-year Milestone last year was great. It’s nice to have that sort of loyalty that has stayed with the company. I think one of the nice things about Barry is that his daughter now works with us, so we’ve got a whole new generation or second generation of ‘BPDers’ starting in the company.”
“The Beacon Award is definitely one of my proudest moments. Standing up on stage, a small guy from Carlisle, going over to Las Vegas to pick up an award from IBM for efforts done for their IBM products worldwide.
There’s a good compliment for our business!”
“To get off site! No, that’s not true… We’ve often built models and templates from all the stuff that we’ve built over the years from the industry sectors that we work in and that has been a common theme throughout our life. We don’t try and rebuild the wheel. We’re actually trying to reuse the technology that we’ve already delivered. Then building upon those business processes or Maximo – that’s a common requirement.”
“I suppose the challenge really is Maximo and our product remaining a market leader. It is currently in Gartner’s top quartile for EAM products. It has some heavyweight pals that it competes with and it does have some ‘foibles’, which means that we do have to do integration. It doesn’t have a finance system and a lot of the other players at the top end of the market, SAP, for example, have that sort of financial management toolset. So, with the advent of Blockchain (IBM are very keen on Blockchain technology), I can see a day hopefully where Maximo and Blockchain will be the de factostandard for your asset management journey.”
“I think Maximo has got a great chance of being a toolset for now, the next 10 years, 15 years and 25 years and will become an even stronger tool! And that is the challenge for our company; how we react to that and how we actually behave.
We’re already well ahead of the game in terms of offering Solutions in the cloud and we’ve set up our stall globally to take asset management into the cloud and offer clients that journey; to get rid of the headache of looking after systems and therefore, if we can stay ahead of the technological game, there’s a bright future for BPD Zenith offering those solutions.
The IoT world, for me, linking into our base Maximo product, is actually the next 25 years! And as long as Maximo supports that, I think we will continue to have bright futures.”
“I think real-time data sensing and asset management is the next cycle that’s coming and therefore is the most exciting thing that we are touching on at the moment.
With asset health insights you get the ability to take data from your asset that tells you when that thing is likely to go wrong or has got something which is not quite right about it. This is a much more exciting and efficient process than having it break and having a team of people firefight to actually fix it and put it back so the business can carry on running. The actual technology has been around for ages. It’s just starting to come together so that they can actually be used coherently with systems like Maximo.
The machine learning on the ‘AI’ side is also fundamental in trying to reach a level where we get autonomous assets who are going to get autonomously maintained. The car industry, which we use all the time as a an example of how asset management works (maintain your car and it won’t break down on the road) is leading the way and sooner or later you’ll get cars that drive themselves, and the passengers will just be enjoying an entertainment experience. The cars are also going to work out that they’re not right – they’ll go to the garage themselves and probably get fixed by a machine rather than a human!”
“We are putting together a global model for a business which can distribute software in the cloud and – whether it be Asset Management or IoT, or Mobility – BPD Zenith is actually set up with a view and capability to delivering these projects globally in the cloud. I think is a much more valuable prospect for somebody who needs that ability to actually take their products to the marketplace!
The new things will be IoT – those products where you’re actually working everything from your phone or mobile device – very rarely sitting down with a computer. I see all of our stuff going that way. That’s what we’re actually doing over the next 25 years and we’ll continue on that journey…
But for me personally, I won’t be working in 25 years’ time… I hope I’m not working in 25 years, but I hope that somebody will certainly still be working with the base of what BPD Zenith has actually put in play.”
Thanks from BPD Zenith
BPD Zenith would like to thank its partners, clients, sponsors and friends for all the support over the years and give special thanks to George for the interview and leadership. Congratulations on such an amazing achievement, here’s to the next 25!
We look forward to sharing the rest of the journey with you…
Look out for part 2 of the blog series where George discusses the future direction of BPD Zenith with the Directors, as well as industry trends and technology breakthroughs which we can expect to see over the next 25 years.
Watch the full video interview with George Lightfoot below: