7x24 Exchange's Tribute to David Schirmacher

7x24 Exchange honored the memory of David Schirmacher with a tribute which we can see on a video on this page.

I was lucky to meet David and have many long, long conversations over the years. When David was with FieldView he had a lot more time. When he joined Digital Realty Trust, the times I would connect with him would reduce down to seeing him at 7x24 Exchange. To have quality conversations I started to stay past the last presentations and go to the pool after the conference where David and I would grab a burger and catch up. The nice thing talking to him even though months had gone by we would jump immediately into tough issues.

We covered a wide range of topics. The current state of the data center industry. Various technologies for the data center buildings and the equipment in it. And lots of conversations about the people in the industry. Before David joined Digital Realty Trust he wanted my opinion on the job and what it would be like. David knew I am close to Mike Manos and his time at Digital Realty is a good set of data to work with in making a decision.

One of David’s best insights that gets lots of laughs is when he talked about a given data center executive who spoke about his efforts, his industry initiatives, his team, etc., and etc. Then David said it, “Oh my god, that’s it. He is the Donald Trump of Data Centers. A self-promoter.” David said this over 5 years ago and when ever I tell this story it gets a good laugh.

In our many conversations we came up with idea of taking a group of West Coast data center executives and visiting a group of the financial data center executives in NYC. People who all too often are not at the conferences, but data centers are very much part of their business. Touring data centers for some of the financials and exchanges was a very different world. One of the interesting points is how quiet it was. Quiet in terms of activity, not the noise. In a Cloud data center you would see lots of gear ready to be deployed, repairs and upgrades, and new areas for expansion. At the New York data centers it was clean and low activity. It was a different world and it was good to connect the different perspectives.

As Bob said in the tribute video on this page. David would always be at the conferences with his wife Veronica and both would be all smiles. It is hard to accept David is gone from the 7x24 Exchange events. He touched so many people there and he was always energized. I’ll miss that smile and the laughs.


World Economic Forum's Construction Innovation Initiative

WEF (World Economic Forum) has a Future of Construction Initiative. The effort by WEF is supported by BCG (Boston Consulting Group) which is a competitor of McKinsey who I mentioned in this post.

The WEF has of course economic data.

As an industry, moreover, it accounts for 6% of global GDP. It is also the largest global consumer of raw materials, and constructed objects account for 25-40% of the world’s total carbon emissions.
— http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Shaping_the_Future_of_Construction_full_report__.pdf

There are a long list of people contributing to the effort. here is one page.

So is this the answer to changing the construction industry? I think the effort is helpful, but not the answer.

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What is the Incentive for Construction Industry to make changes?

McKinsey has a report they published in Feb 2017 on reinventing construction. CNBC has a youtube video on the power of McKinsey.

McKinsey points out the challenge.

For their part, contractors and specialized trades may stand to lose from a move to a more efficient system in which many of them win orders by optimizing up-front pricing and then making up for lost surplus via change orders and claims, or where nonstandard or costly specifications can mean higher revenue rather than lower margins. Currently, many contractors are more focused on maintaining those margins than measuring and improving productivity.
— https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our-insights/reinventing-construction-through-a-productivity-revolution

There are 7 areas for the solution. But are these the way to change construction or are these changes that will be observed as construction changes.

Being more efficient, saving money is not an incentive to change that is powerful enough.

So what is the incentives for getting construction to change? Most know they are stuck and not making progress they should.

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Can data driven construction transform like baseball?

Moneyball is a famous story of how data changed how players were selected for team. Axios reports on how data driven hitting has transformed hitting coaching.

Some numbers to get your attention.

By the numbers: 19 of MLB's 30 hitting coaches played less than 100 big league games, 13 never played in the majors and four never even played in the minors.

The WSJ is a source referenced for the Axios article and they close with

A few decades ago, general managers were mostly former major-league players. They’ve been replaced by a new breed of executives, those with résumés seemingly more cut out for corporate America than professional sports.

This is the next wave of that trend: giving outsiders a uniform and making them coaches.

“More GMs are more open-minded,” Luhnow said, “because a lot of GMs don’t have a traditional background themselves.”

As these data driven tools get used more how long is it before the same is applied to construction? Many construction workers are ex-athletes, and the new construction workers are being exposed to these data tools.

Home Court is another data driven tool for basketball training.