Back in 2009, we ran an interview series with all thought leaders of the IWMS industry. In our fourth interview we have interviewed George Ahn, former CEO of Tririga, and current IBM Vice President of Enterprise Asset Management.

Because of IBM’s acquisition of TRIRIGA, it seemed like the right moment to interview George Ahn again.

Please find the interview with George Ahn below. I’m looking forward to your comments!

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Steven Hanks:
George, here we are again, after what must be a very exciting year for TRIRIGA.

George Ahn:

Hi, Steven. It’s great to speak with you again. This has been a very exciting year for TRIRIGA.

IBM acquired our company in April and we just wrapped up our annual client forum where we had our largest event ever, with over 500 attendees, and full participation from all our partners.

 

Steven Hanks:
I was not surprised that the industry would see a few mergers and acquisitions; however I didn’t expect it to be TRIRIGA. Why this acquisition?

George Ahn:

Over the years, we were contacted by a number of potential acquirers, but we needed to make sure that it would be a good fit for all parties – especially our customers. After all the evaluations, there was no question that IBM would represent the best possible next phase for TRIRIGA as we planned to extend our reach globally.

 

Steven Hanks:
So, how will it affect customers?

George Ahn:

This move made a lot of sense for both IBM and TRIRIGA customers who were seeking consolidation in managing both real estate and workplace assets.

IBM and TRIRIGA shared a similar vision, and we both had established strategies to evolve our offerings to address these market requirements for increasing the financial return on these assets.

 

Steven Hanks:
How will these product lines converge and by when?

George Ahn:

IBM and TRIRIGA both evolved our portfolios in similar ways:  Java-based technology platform, role-based workflows, web-based interface, etc.  Given this starting point, we only needed to resolve a very small number of discrepancies and areas of overlap.

The result is a very broad and highly functional application family, integrated at all levels.

We began the convergence work almost immediately and the product lines will evolve with each release over the coming months as we continue to listen to our customers and integrate their feedback.

 

Steven Hanks:
What does IBM bring to the table?

George Ahn:

IBM’s brand name is more valuable than any in the technology industry, because the company applies its resources thoughtfully.

Going global was the clear desire of both firms, so IBM provided translation staff to localize TRIRIGA’s offering into French, Spanish, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese, and we’re delivering this to market by the end of the year.

It is extremely exciting for us to know that we can now deliver our offerings around the world and know that our customers will be in good hands in any market.

 

Steven Hanks:
You were with IBM before.  What is it like returning to the company?

George Ahn:

I was with IBM for over 13 years before TRIRIGA. Since then, the company has grown not just in the number of people who work here, but how the company develops, implements and supports our products and services.  From the perspective of core values and focus on excellence, it’s the same company. I’m very energized by having the opportunity to be part of it again.

 

Steven Hanks:
The official press release from IBM stated that TRIRIGA will be integrated into IBM Tivoli Software and IBM Global Business Services. Does that mean that the TRIRGA brand will disappear?

George Ahn:

IBM recognized the value of TRIRIGA’s brand, and its intimate connection with quality, functionality and service to our customers.

Initially, our products will have the “IBM TRIRIGA” name, but we will continue to evaluate our options over the coming months to determine if any other changes will be made.

Moreover, the goal is to make sure our capabilities are integrated into the larger smarter buildings program that IBM has created.

 

Steven Hanks:
Does the deal impact TRIRIGA’s R&D capabilities?  What is to be expected in terms of new releases?

George Ahn:

Most certainly, this is one of the reasons why IBM is so successful in acquisitions.

As the world’s second largest software company, IBM has a successful track record integrating software companies, which is a major profit driver for the company. IBM has opened up its Research expertise to our team to identify areas where we were looking for advances.

IBM’s philosophy is to accelerate R&D investment that way we can offer the most comprehensive facility and real estate management solutions for customers around the world.

By combining our intellectual capital with the global reach of IBM, we can help clients dramatically improve their buildings’ operations to become more efficient.

Since the acquisition, TRIRIGA development staffing increased 61 percent in the first 6 months and has already helped TRIRIGA accelerate R&D plans in to critical areas: advanced reporting and language translation.

 

Steven Hanks:
When I interviewed you back in 2009, we also talked about the IWMS industry in 2015. Can you elaborate a bit more on that? Especially now we have seen quite a few mergers over the last year.  What do you expect for the IWMS industry?

George Ahn:

In 2009, I stated that demand for smarter buildings was just beginning to grow, and that the industry has moved aggressively in this direction:  there is a convergence of management of assets related to buildings, real estate, equipment and facilities-related assets therein.

The market has evolved in its requirements, well past that of improving the productivity of the personnel who manage the assets.

It now includes financial management, energy management and long-term facility and asset planning.  Requirements for decision support have moved beyond reactive, tactical, corrective decisions to strategic, predictive and real-time decisions.

The need for the degree of building automation and their related assets has also increased.  IBM calls this category “Smarter Buildings,” as part of its Smarter Planet initiative.  One important fact that has not changed, buildings are a source of huge waste – wasted space, wasted energy and wasted capital – and by 2025 they will be the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on our planet.

Systems that manage all these needs are not simple. They are sophisticated, flexible and comprehensive.  This is another reason why IBM and TRIRIGA is such a good match.  These are the systems that we have been known for producing and delivering.

The benefits of using these systems for both commercial and public organizations will increase operational, financial and environmental performance.  It’s ambitious, but we are well-prepared to address these needs.

 

Steven Hanks:
And what about yourself? What will be your new role? What can we expect from you?

George Ahn:

I moved into the role of IBM Vice President of Enterprise Asset Management, which looks broadly at optimizing IBM’s smarter infrastructure software for buildings, manufacturing, transportation and more.

This means that I’m helping to lead the integration of TRIRIGA into the larger Smarter Planet offerings, as well as the overall enterprise asset management program within IBM.

 

Steven Hanks:
George, I want to thank you very much for your time for this interview, and I wish you all the best for 2012 and onwards.

George Ahn:

You too, Steven.  It was great to speak with you again.