GCC's FM professionals must be more tech-savvy

Operator knowledge holds the key to success

Adrian Jarvis is the general manager of UAE-based FSI FM Solutions Middle East.
Adrian Jarvis is the general manager of UAE-based FSI FM Solutions Middle East.

The use of technology within the FM sector continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The amount of disruption and change in the digital workplace means building managers and service providers cannot afford to be content with their technology platforms simply treading water. Big data and complex analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), an agile and mobile workforce, and the Cloud are just some aspects of technology that must now be considered.

Implementing an FM platform that supports these technologies – among others – and enables collaborative working with a building’s owner, occupants, and other business systems leads to both, flexibility and agility in service delivery.

Intelligent buildings yield vast volumes of data from a plethora of systems, sensors, and data sources, but how that data is interpreted and used collaboratively is what contributes value and efficiencies. The key is to leverage the IoT ecosystem with technologies that can sense, communicate, analyse, and effect best practices.

Being aware of technology and actually implementing it are two different challenges. All too often, sensors are discussed as being a solution; however, if we don’t understand what we are going to use their data for, then we have sensors for sensors’ sake, and data that might well detract rather than aid us in the workplace.

We need to understand why we have installed a sensor to measure, for example, footfall, temperature, or moisture content, and the change that we intend to implement or witness as a result of the sensor output. If we understand what technology is going to do with the data provided from a sensor, and if the FM technology platform is able to automatically make decisions and orchestrate change, then we have an opportunity to improve the workplace and drive efficiencies.

For example, at a basic level, a sensor might trigger the creation of a reactive task in a CMMS or CAFM system that requires a help desk agent to then allocate the issue to a technician. The next step might be to use a mobile device to instruct a technician to attend to and investigate or rectify the issue.

However, if data from the sensor actually changes the behaviour of the CMMS or CAFM system – say by automatically changing the maintenance regime or the facilities’ activities that were previously scheduled on [ad-hoc basis] – then it leads us to proactively delivering facilities services and efficiencies.

So what does this mean for facility managers and service providers preparing for smart cities and intelligent buildings? Service providers need to be ready for informed clients that understand the value of technology ownership and building data.

Technology platforms need to provide agile mobility applications for the workforce and customer, transparency of life cycle and performance data between stakeholders, and the ability to integrate and work collaboratively with other business systems.

Data from sensors and intelligent systems needs to be aggregated so that it can be used and interpreted effectively, and FM technology must provide business intelligence (BI) tools to aid effective interpretation and analysis of data.

Finally, FM platforms need to provide agility and flexibility to innovate as facility strategies continue to evolve.

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