Facility Management Technology a key Enabler for the Fourth Industrial Revolution


Facility Management Technology a key Enabler for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Facility Management Technology a key Enabler for the Fourth Industrial Revolution 1

We are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution which is changing the way we work and live. This potential productivity revolution brings up the convergence of the right tools and technology that empower transformative areas and comes hot on its heels with spawned automation, cyber-physical systems and big data.

The recent technological leaps and intrusion of smart technologies have aspired a growing age of millennials. With the evolving workforce, thriving in a ‘real-time, anytime and anywhere’ economy, business culture is transforming under their influence.

The digital maturity honing the existing business processes, penetration of technology in the traditional businesses and increased number of millennials in the workforce, altogether is creating a competitive environment among the businesses along with the necessity to incorporate technological facets in the processes to enhance productivity and improve user-experiences.

Keeping up with the demands of advancements in multiple sites in a portfolio requires the expertise of additional tools, control, intelligence and strategic implementation of the resources at hand.

Thus, to thrive in the fiercely growing and competitive global market, organisations will continue to outsource facility management services on a large scale to transform the way organisations utilise their resources and professionals, creating a win-win for employees as well as businesses in the space. Both in-house and outsourced facility management is growing exponentially with a total market for facilities management to grow from 1.24 trillion USD (in 2019) to a predicted number of 1.62 trillion USD by 2027

The facilities management industry has seen itself rising from an under-optimised resource to a fundamental support that enriches the interaction with the facility, delights the stakeholders and intelligently empowers the businesses.

What is digital transformation and why it is necessary for facility management?

Digital Transformation is the application of digital capabilities to processes, products, and assets to improve efficiency, enhance customer value, manage risk, and uncover new monetization opportunities. — Bill Schmarzo, CTO of Dell EMC Services

In the business context, data-driven digital transformation refers to the exploitation of real-time data collection, analysis and prediction of issues to constantly add value to the companies’ offering and to stay competitive. This will ultimately optimise performance within the organisation, maximise resources, flexibility and help companies make timely and informed decisions.

With the technological disruption in almost every business field, digital transformation in the FM industry has become equally essential. First because of the conscious change in perspective involving every stakeholder in the effort to add value and innovation to the ecosystem and second to potentially handle the broader needs of the business. 

The current legacy models of FM operations have considerable budget constraints which limits innovation and efficiency. However, by utilising the business automation techniques we can explore the untapped data to obtain more predictable and contextual insights, making more of the already available assets. The utilisation of smarter technology like IoT, ML and AI makes the existing systems smarter, rather than replacing them with a new generation of inputs eventually contributing to effective cost-cutting.

“People actually remember your service a lot longer than the price.” Technology-driven efficiency results in holistic and strategic FM operation along with elevating asset performance, commercial gains, improving customer service and satisfaction.

After a considerable background of how the FM industry is currently witnessing the paradigm shifts in its operation and transformational value, we should consider the positives that are lining up altogether and seamlessly contributing to upgrading FM from a passive cost centre to a value-driven essential investment.

Procure operational leads

Traditional reliability of hardware and manual work is now proving to be inflexible and rigid because of decreased optimisation and difficult management. The idea is to set up smart workflows that track asset performance, predict and prevent peculiarities and proactively manage the facilities.

With Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, a new layer of empowered functionality will be added enabling predictive intervention and intelligent insights in the business operations. These will help to make informed purchase decisions along with continuous speculation on investments.

Continuous optimisation

FM operations can achieve solid productivity and acceleration in the ongoing tasks by eliminating inefficient paperwork and manual work. Machine Learning-driven performance analytics and custom KPIs enable data-led decision making, drive predictive models of operations and pinpoint abnormal asset anomalies. This facilitates a quicker and responsive approach to problem-solving.

Data-driven decision making and predictive analysis

Being confronted with data and operating through technology is pushing facility management to new waters. Actionable insights derived from the IoT devices and other software when combined and processed can aid in optimising assets, workforce and sustainability. Several time-series ML models can derive a new stream of information about potential cost optimisation, inventory management and consumption patterns. Outcomes include reduced overall operational cost and minimised asset downtime.

Stay on top of your portfolio

IoT enabled smart buildings and offices, optimised workplaces and Computer Vision Technologies allows making operations coherent across distributed sites and eases down tracking of assets, equipment, workflow systems and buildings - which were conventionally quite complicated and fault-prone. A fully centralised system that can solely but effectively respond to energy, security and operational data on a single platform will require a less dispersed workforce. Such a unified central source provides a bird-eye view of the entire organisation and makes monitoring easy.

With proper exploratory data analysis on asset and budget, repair or updation decisions related to the equipment can be quickly taken, that too possible in accordance with the budget and maintenance data. This helps monitor the machinery uptime and downtime and increase the life cycle of the equipment.

Blockchain Improvements

"The economy will undergo a radical shift as new, blockchain-based, sources of influence and control emerge. Blockchain has the potential to change the way facilities are managed, ranging from work order tracking to preventive maintenance to life cycle assessments". ~ IFMA Facility Management Journal

It offers a streamlined way to store and access secure data. It functions as a cloud-based, permanent, digitally secure ledger among the parties, and can reduce complexities of contract management, work processing order and processing of payments. All the contractual processes are recorded in real-time and it induces automation with the capability of self-executing workflows.

Co-exist with your problems and ensure predictive maintenance

Where everything is dynamic and real-time operations are now a necessity, how the solutions employed can be static?

Early fault detection is critical for smooth customer experience and business functioning. The earlier fault was reported after the harm was done. The engineer would react immediately leading to haphazard and sometimes inconvenient situations. But now, the technology applied in buildings is coming pre-installed with sensors and IoT based services come to the rescue. The digital information collected can determine whether the device is working as expected. And in case of anomaly, early detection of a fault or replacement reminders eases out the whole process.

Owing to the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring safety standards and employing mitigation techniques in the workplace becomes quite necessary. Using IoT and AI, social distancing among the employees, regulating the planned access to different assets within a building, organisations of meetings by keeping the health standards in mind, attendance trackers using computer vision technology, automatically generated digital passes etc. are some of how organisations have seamlessly adopted the measures to minimise human contact and intervention.

Also, thermal cameras for temperature screening, built-in room sensors to track human activity, face-mask detection and optimised parking spaces are widely used to enhance employee safety and experience in the office.

The fourth industrial revolution is advancing faster and is more revolutionary than any to date. Access to previously unimaginable amounts of data, utilisation of technology in every chore and value-driven approaches adopted by the FM industry is increasing the control over any other operational task, providing sustainable solutions and saving money.

The technologically disruptive paradigm of facility management has transformed the conventional way of the utilisation of professionals, assets and money. It has now taken a centre stage and produced unprecedented outcomes. This has always been the industry that identified bottlenecks in the business processes and created solutions in response.

The consensus emerging for technology predicts bigger shifts and includes increased support for research and development, regulations for emerging technologies and devices, value-driven approaches of FM and their accessibility to businesses of all sizes. 

The IoT-AI driven FM industry can’t blaze forward without the incorporation of a skilled workforce that has a strong background in STEM areas like programming, data analysis, cybersecurity, AI and ML. Big changes are required to keep the innovations alive and like many other fields, the FM industry is also calling for the adoption of new technologies and an IT skilled workforce.

Integrated Facility Management is expected to increase its share of the total addressable FM market from 10.3% in 2018 to 13.9% by 2025, while the total market is forecast to grow from $819.53 billion to $945.11 billion during the same period at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.1%. - Frost and Sullivan

FM is the main driver of the commercial value of properties by providing a faster response, smarter solutions and better management strategies. Now, every stakeholder in the associated industry stands to benefit, customers will get amazing services and experiences, owners will achieve greater profits and above all, Facility Managers are the key enablers.


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