Facilities Management landscape is at the brink of a revolution- a steady shift from the existing tactical service system to a more proactive and predictive one. “A recent CIFS AND ISS Study reveals that 91% of Facility Managers think innovation and differentiation are vital for the FM Industry“. The millennial workforce wants to be in smart offices within the next five years.
It is fair to say that 2020 has defied all possible conventions. In the past year alone, the world saw disruptions of colossal proportions, both national and international. As citizens across the globe collectively learned, no one could have predicted how a mysterious virus can bring the entire world to a standstill for months together. Daily routines, business functions, communication methods, and a lot more have been altered drastically. While it is a fact that COVID-19 has wholly reshaped our living and working spaces, many companies have adapted the way they function to suit the changing times.
One of the major sectors that have been affected due to COVID is the facility management (FM) space. The way we live and work every day or manage operations in physical space is no longer straightforward. So, FM is a key area we must diligently consider and adapt for the future by adopting newer strategies and measures. This will also help us successfully curb the spread of the infection by focusing on safety and delivering and demonstrating employees a hassle-free COVID-19 experience.
As employees began making drastic changes to the way they live, work, shop, and socialize, companies too quickly realigned their infrastructure to tackle the needs of the post-pandemic world. Three such major trends are set to take center stage in 2021, which are particularly important for Facility Managers to note.
User experience is vital
When it comes to the Facilities Management space, most organizations are already beginning to digitize the entire operations and are operating on a digital platform. This is to ensure ease of user experience primarily. Companies are now looking at solution providers that provide an entire range of offerings like asset tracking, energy consumption monitoring, security, inventory management, HVAC, and mobile capabilities: under a single roof. This increased interaction with software for simple operations is indicative of the trend of using a system that users are comfortable with and which is universal across software sectors. Research has shown that between 40-60 percent of IoT devices rely on interoperability.
Almost all major players now have cloud-based options, which wasn’t always the case. Besides allowing facilities to go paperless, FM managers can view current information in real-time and make timely on-site updates. This thereby leads to more accurate data and eliminates transposing from paper to digital. This improves workflow because employees can easily view tasks and protocols (like required tools and personal protective equipment), and it streamlines how tenants or occupants can submit service requests.
AI is the future
More and more software providers are now committed to innovation, making room for AI and robotics in FM. We will also see automation features and wireless protocols that change the way we currently access our workplaces. Near field communication (NFC) technologies are already being combined with IoT networks to create an ‘all-access pass. So it is becoming increasingly inevitable for facility management software to integrate with more such software platforms and tech devices and equipment.
Green buildings and sustainable building practices
A relatively older trend and one that will endure in 2021 is Green Buildings and the focus on sustainable building practices. More and more companies are keen on engaging with FM partners who provide sustainable equipment & solutions, thereby helping reduce carbon footprint. While the emphasis has recently shifted to newer buildings to be more environment-friendly, older buildings can achieve energy efficiency by properly adopting modern infrastructure. All these above trends have been driven forward by changes brought forth by the pandemic. As these trends continue to advance, one can indeed witness the emergence of newer technologies that will reshape employee experiences driven by FM trends in a different way altogether. The facility manager’s role is becoming more prominent and even beginning to shift from operational to strategic. The FM market needs continued collaboration and partnership with vendors who will help them innovate and evolve.
The mechanics of Facilities Management include services that directly impact buildings & it’s people (soft services like housekeeping, catering, operated security, etc. ) and those which have a more indirect impact (complex services like MEP, air conditioning, fire safety, etc. ). These services, traditionally offered as part of building maintenance, support, and troubleshooting, are considered mere cost centers with limited resources allotted to provide operational value with little to no business value.
However, at a technological tipping point, the current FM Industry in India is poised for disruption. The Indian Facilities Management Industry is actively adopting the latest technologies like IoT, AI, Mobile, and SaaS in Buildings to meet the changing expectations of the millennial workforce and drive more value for tenants.
With technology, buildings can integrate assets, operations, and energy data, automate workflows based on unified information, derive actionable insight, and predict anomalies in real-time across portfolios. As a result, FMs are empowered to respond faster with more innovative solutions and better visibility with a central source of actions and insights. Additionally, besides enabling a more competent FM workforce, adopting technology in buildings can help improve credibility and accountability for FM services, transforming them into crucial value drivers in the business ecosystem.
Suffice to say, the FM Industry in India is all set for a tech-driven transformation for the future is ripe for real-time facilities.