In a profile of those who will be speaking at Wyboston Lakes Resort, Peter Kirk, founder of Parconex, invites you to get to grips with technology management…
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Based in Northern Ireland, I’ve worked for start-up companies and also some blue-collar, blue-chip companies, but I’ve [spent] 35 years in the private member golf club industry, predominantly on the software side.
I’ve worked with BRS, now BRS Golf Now. I started with them when they had six customers, left them when they had 1,000, and the rest is history.
I’ve worked with Jonas, arguably the top company in club software in the globe, and I’ve worked both locally here in Ireland and the UK and Europe, Middle East and the Far East.
I’ve been involved in a lot of very exciting projects. From a technology point of view, I advise clubs on really identifying what the issues are, what the pain points are, or where we can help them, and then advising them on the best solutions.
I’ve always been unbiased and honest in my recommendations. That has stood me well over the years. I believe I’ve got a very good reputation for giving best advice. That has taken me to where I am today with my own company, Parconex.
We advise clubs and identify their issues. That could be cost points, it could be efficiencies, it could be sustainability within the club. Having found those issues, we look at the existing systems they currently have and the tools of technology and make recommendations – whether that is simply an upgrade within their own system or retraining, which obviously is the cheapest route, or looking at brand new innovations that would be more efficient and better suited for the club.
How excited are you about presenting at GCMA 2021 Conference?
I am really excited for so many reasons. I have been a presenter with the CMAE in their MDP education programme. I think everybody, through the pandemic, is tired of Zoom or webinars and it’s just getting out to meet people again, old and new friends, and sharing what we’ve learned over the last 18 to 20 months.
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Your keynote session has the subtitle, ‘a good tradesperson never blames their tools’. Can you give us a quick insight into what that means and a flavour of what you’ll be presenting to members?
I think most of us during the pandemic got a chance to do those DIY jobs that we’ve been putting off and putting off. One job that I’ve been putting off ended up taking me 20 minutes and I’ve been putting it off for years!
What I realised was technology is a tool. Technology is really an implement to help you get to the end goal. Within the club industry, a lot of change is always talked about but a lot of the tools we have: Are they the right tools for what we’re trying to achieve?
In this day and age, going back to looking at the pressure points, the great example is the communication hub. So, how do clubs communicate when the members are stuck at home and that club has to keep that interest in renewing memberships and so on?
During those DIY jobs, for a couple [of them] I turned up with the wrong tools and it made the job either take twice as long or didn’t have the outcome that I wanted.
What I was thinking about was identifying those jobs and going into those jobs with the right tools.
I think the club industry can learn heavily from that. Look at the technology they have – is it still relevant? Is it still doing the job it was originally intended to do?
If not, what tools are out there to make that job easier or get to the end goal quicker, or more efficiently, or more cost effectively and sustain that end result?
You’re also going to be talking about current technological trends and how best to utilise them in a Breakout session….
I see this as a very interactive session. Technology is moving so quickly. One of the things I don’t believe we’ve been doing, or we’ve had the chance to do very well, is that networking between clubs and sharing ideas.
In the breakout session, I’ll certainly share the innovations I’ve come across recently and I’m excited about.
What one thing can golf clubs do now to improve their use of technology at their club?
Evaluate. [I think of] The number of clubs I’ve gone to in the past that believe, because another club has moved technology, they can also benefit without looking at their own systems.
There are very few clubs that I know of that will put a budget against retraining, re-evaluating, researching and what upgrades are available.
From evaluating, you might have to re-evaluate your current system so they are very much run concurrently.
There are too many clubs that go out there and buy new technology without really identifying their end goal.
In some cases, it has cost managers their jobs, or it has cost the club too much money. That’s because they haven’t really evaluated where they are, where they want to be, and what they currently have.
Part of what I’ll be talking about is the processes they should go through when they’re looking at any technology – that can be from the hairdryer in the locker room to a £160,000 fairway mower.
If they don’t understand what the outcome, what the benefit is and what they’re trying to achieve, then the chances are they are not going to buy the right technology.
Delegate places and Breakout Sessions are filling up quickly for GCMA 2021 Conference at Wyboston Lakes Resort, staged from November 21 to 23. Check out the full programme, book your sessions, and get all the information you need by visiting our dedicated website here.