5 new-age FM and operations leaders share secrets on building operations, technology, and delivering experiences that occupants like.

There’s a lot of modern technology out there for facilities managers. But who’s using it to its full potential to improve efficiency and create positive tenant experiences?

We hosted a panel of 5 FM leaders that largely agreed only a small fraction of the tech capabilities available today are being put to use. Our leaders discussed some of the real estate and FM industry’s challenges and how to get more out of the intelligent tools at your disposal.

Technological challenges in the Facilities Management industry 

Our leaders agreed on a few major challenges facing property owners, operators, and facilities managers today.

1. Sharing and accessing data can be difficult—and most platforms aren’t designed for real-time business decisions.

Sanjay Bhatia, General Manager at Concordia DMCC, explained that traditionally building portfolios have independent infrastructure and disparate automation systems. Almost all these systems are proprietary to the manufacturer and/or need the dependency of BMS service providers for changes, integrations, or improvement. This makes it challenging to integrate systems and analyze data at a central level.

Imtiaz Ahmad, Head of FM at TECOM (Dubai Design District), explained that although accessing reports from the BMS on machinery faults is achievable at some level today, the hard part is to tie the system to the CaFM/CMMS in order to automatically generate work orders or resolution against them. These types of integrations are key to improve workforce efficiency—and keep tenants happy.

 

2. There is a knowledge and skills gaps preventing wider technology adoption.

Both Bhatia and Sara Momtaz, then Director FM & Commercial at QBG, agreed that their operations team were at large under-utilizing CaFM/CMMS capabilities. Momtaz attributed this underuse to the fact that the workforce using the system didn’t understand its full potential. 

 “This is staggering when you invest so much! The platform can manage and improve performance on such a wide level,” said Momtaz.

 

3. Automation isn’t designed to fit the IoT landscape 

While there are many intelligent technologies available today, owners and operators find that the baked-in complexity of automation is what slows the adoption of emerging technology. Maged Louis, Managing Partner at Implement Engineering Consultants, says that it’s hard to optimize building performance and make operational improvements once corners have been cut on technology.

 

A better, modern approach to FM and building operations

A connected model can alleviate many of the challenges facing facilities managers and property operators today—by better unifying disparate building systems and tying into everyday operations and maintenance workflows.

 

Connected technology

Several of our panelists have worked to successfully integrate their CAFM, BMS, ERP, and other systems together to share data. But integrating these technologies is not just about improving data collection. The more important aspect is deriving a meaningful sense of that data and making it available at the right time, to the workforce and stakeholders. 

Louis adds, “Automation is already there. [The data’s] available but not all being used. Ultimately, we need to harness it, collect data, analyze, use it. That’s where we are struggling.”

Jim Smith, General Manager Support Services at Emrill Services, explained, “There’s a lot of data there. We need to find an interface to gather the data, bring it together—and drag out meaningful information. Dashboards must be relevant, make a difference. There’s no point in gathering a bunch of data but not understand what it’s doing for you.”

This requires an open, vendor-agnostic software platform to ingest building data in different formats and protocols, make it centric to operational workflows, and have it meaningfully visualized and available as web and mobile applications.

Connected people

Beyond connecting technology, the industry should also work harder at connecting people. 

Momtaz explained the importance of bringing the asset managers into the building automation conversation: “We train [our BMS operators] specifically on what the client is looking for out of a particular report. What is your priority? Why do you want to know that? We tailor and base our training around this. It must be customer-centric and can’t be one-size-fits-all.”

Understanding whether a tenant is more interested in energy savings or cost savings will impact the services provided.

And as Louis points out, building designers and BAS contractors must stay more connected with their FMs and property operators in order to best equip the new/retrofitted building for successful data-led operations. Facilities managers and operators need to be at the table during building system design. 

 

The real potential of modern operations technology

What does all this mean for owners and operators? Property operations platform that aggregates hard-to-access data in real-time—and derives meaningful insights from that data—is available today and has great potential to help:

  • Optimize building performance
  • Improve the occupant experience
  • Help achieve energy efficiency
  • Control operations – from a single place – to yield time and cost efficiencies

With the right data strategy and technology integration, it becomes easier to connect people, too.

The result? A scientific path to operational efficiency and a lot more happy tenants and occupants.

To hear more insights and ideas from our 5 FM leaders, check out the video of our discussion.