With the rise of data-driven solutions, it has become obvious that Facility Management will also have to evolve. Similar to the Procurement function, Facility Management is undergoing a rapid digital transformation, transitioning from a support function whose goal is to drive cost /energy savings and operational efficiency to a function that creates an added-value to the organization by boosting the occupant satisfaction.
Because of this new shift, the distinction between physical and digital infrastructure is increasingly blurred and this is particularly true in facilities management, where buildings are producers and consumers of data. This sudden creation of data creates different challenges such as gathering all different data from multiple sources into one solution that can help optimize costs but also improve the experience inside buildings. Before getting into technology, let’s define what we mean by “Facility Management”. Facility Management is about enhancing, significantly, user or employee experience inside a building through space optimization, real estate resource coordination and effective delivery of support services.
Within the next 5 years, the role of a Facility Manager is about to change. Indeed, it has become possible to predict most machine failures and monitor precisely the performance of services providers. As a consequence, decision-makers expect immediate answers in case something stops working due to breakdown or in case of a deterioration of quality indicators and of the occupants’ satisfaction. The idea is to consider facility managers to be collaborators that can actively contribute to business growth and added-value creation. In this context, a facility manager’s role has gone way beyond the general service management of a company. Today, facility management is not limited to space and resource optimization, it also involves enhancing the overall experience with the building/store and working environment.
The Data Issue
As we know, data is everywhere inside a building and only a few numbers of Facility Managers are still waiting to be convinced of the added-value brought by leveraging data and yet industry needs guidance and leadership. Indeed, we have met many Facility Managers who are willing to start adopting a data-driven approach but need guidance in building a solid and coherent strategy based on their size and goals. Furthermore, it can be very challenging to choose a first pilot project to highlight feasible initiatives over the short term that can deliver proof of concept.
At CKS, we have chosen to enhance our management solution for contracted services and multi-technical premises maintenance with AI algorithms that can help, for instance, a Facility Manager better predict maintenance operations or understand the overall energy consumption of a building, therefore increase savings through personalized recommendations. By leveraging different data sources, we are able to achieve tangible results by a quality and cost twofold approach.
In order to build such a solution, we have worked alongside several industry experts to understand how to leverage this very specific data created by a facility. While doing this, we have noticed that the industry recognizes the imbalance between data capturing and data analytics. The way you process data is essential to the success of your strategy. Effective facilities management depends on an organization’s ability to transform this data into insights that enable better decisions and actions for people and the environments they occupy. When the organization can’t handle the specific data created by a building, it can be interesting to look for third-party players to help you structure your data and make it ready to be leveraged.
We firmly believe that good facilities management solutions must be somehow personalized, integrated and intelligent. Indeed, the creation of a unique dashboard paves the way to a tool that can be useful for different entities/sites of the same organization. The financial director, the facility management director and the procurement director could all rely on the same dashboard for strategic decisions. We see the dashboard as a meeting point. To integrate different data sources, both internal and external, and leverage them through data visualization techniques we decided to partner with ForePaas, a leading end-to-end PaaS solution that enables us to easily publish and manage configuration of custom APIs, clean and structure all data.
For companies that have yet to adopt a data-driven decision-making process, the transition may seem tricky. How do you actually go about collecting data, and then how do you turn that data into actionable information? Surprisingly, it’s not that hard to adopt a data-driven approach—all it requires is a proactive mindset and the right facility management software.
Part of the appeal of adopting a data-driven approach to facilities management is the opportunity to integrate with your existing systems. By pooling all of your information, you can create the most comprehensive picture possible, helping you make better business decisions across the board.
The data you may want to gather and exploit may come from multiple CMMS (software dedicated to building maintenance). Typically, CMMS, whether internal or “external” (i.e. run by services providers), can store a lot of valuable data such as with the repair history of each machine to predict when a machine will need to be repaired or changed. These data can be used to feed AI algorithms to help anticipate and prevent failures.
Data issued from CMMS, combined with the ones retrieved from ERPs, the facility manager can simply run a costing report to see where the budget was spent. The way the budget was spent is actually a very interesting information for an AI-powered solution, which purpose is to help Facility Managers better manage their budget.
Through the use of smart sensors embedded within most machines, we can collect a tremendous amount of data. IoT (Internet of Things) Data combined with AI can help us create new indicators related to energy consumption or building efficiency. For instance, we could install tailored-made sensors on doors to know when exactly the security team made a check-in of a specific area of the factory at pre-defined moments (mentioned in the contract). A lot of things can be accomplished with the use of IoT sensors to secure contract compliance.
Points of sales systems can also represent a very solid source of data for these new decision making systems. For instance, comparing sales data with figures related with visitors and their satisfaction regarding building services may be of interest to decide new investments.
AI/IoT – Into the Future
The good thing about AI is that the technology is already prevalent in modern households with smart home products. It is safe to assume that it’s only a matter of time before residents will expect the same experience in their workplace.
The explosion of available data, computational power and development of AI algorithms are game changers for Facility Managers. Machine Learning (a subset of AI) enables them to stay relevant to changing customer expectations and unify siloed building automation systems while resolving critical issues with the effective use of existing data.
Based on our experience, AI is to be applied to all aspects of FM, from corporate real estate (CRE) providers, residential property managers, restaurants, as well as retailers. The real value of AI in FM comes from the analysis of historic and real-time data to identify correlations between existing performance and potential malfunctions, pre-empting the need for repair or helping the FM in energy-related potential savings
The power of AI is particularly strong when combined with IoT (Internet of Things). Machine learning algorithms can be integrated with an IoT-enabled system and continuously learn about how things work and optimize while helping facility managers to make decisions based on unique insights. Indeed, since IoT enables us to connect the different parts of a building, facility managers can gather a massive amount of valuable data on assets, energy, and people that can be put to work and deliver unique insights. At the moment, the need of the hour is to generate actionable insights and run predictive analytics based upon the collected data.
Another worth mentioning positive aspect of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is that it frees up valuable time and resources so that facilities managers can more meticulously oversee and recall details affecting day-to-day operations.
We believe that the FM big data market is primarily at the pre- or early adoption stage. However, the FM sector is only expected to mature as more and more firms seek to enhance their organizational effectiveness and efficiency. It is clear that larger companies – those equipped with the right human resources and established innovation-supporting structures – emerged to be front-runners. However, smaller firms can also benefit from these technologies by partnering with IT specialists.
We are merely at the beginning of a major transformation for Facility Management.