What are some of the most important trends in facilities management?

A Facilities Manager should be aware of the industry and technology trends that are transforming the way facilities services are being delivered.

Some important areas and trends to be aware of include:

Cost pressures

The facilities management industry is under significant pressure to keep costs down whilst maintaining high standards of service.

This means facilities managers should put in place solutions that help get the most out of their workforce and assets. Examples include training and process improvements to increase productivity, outsourcing labor, leveraging automation, and offering integrated services to improve cost efficiencies and increase contract size.

Mobility

Recent research suggests that mobile is going to have the greatest impact of any technology on the future of service management.

Arming service workers with mobile applications can drive significant productivity gains. It unlocks the ability to understand a worker’s location and automate workflows. It allows them to capture issues as they happen. It allows them to better communicate with managers. What’s more, it eliminates inefficient and inaccurate paper-based processes.

But the benefits don’t end there. The data captured by a mobile workforce allows managers to optimize service delivery over time. Mobility is the clearest path to improve service quality and reducing costs.

Smart Buildings

Smart building technology integrates building systems and sensors to improve efficiency, comfort, and productivity. Here’s how a smart building’s integration works:

  1. The building systems, such as HVAC, lighting or sensor systems, collect data.
  2. The data is relayed back to the building management system, which serves as the central control center.
  3. The building management system and software identify trends in the data.
  4. Facilities professionals use these trends to determine what action to take.

It’s early days for smart buildings, but we expect integrated building management systems to play a key role in improving efficiency, comfort, and productivity.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is the concept of connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet. Devices can include appliances, wearables, building systems, vehicles, and machinery. In essence, IoT is a huge network of connected things. Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be over 20 billion connected devices.

In facilities management, IoT applications usually involve using sensors to trigger workflows or update building systems. For example, smart bins that let cleaners know when they need attention. Or a security guard patrol app that uses beacons to alert supervisors when a security patrol is missed. Or IoT software that uses sensors to control lighting and temperature. IoT allows for endless opportunities and connections to take place.

Robotics & Automation

Automated systems and robots are already having an impact in facilities management. Robots are being used to clean floors and provide waste management and catering services. Drones are being used to map buildings, identify damage and complete security patrols.

But don’t expect human labor to be replaced completely anytime soon. Rather, expect to see technology enable automated processes and workflows that improve efficiency. For example, tasks and work orders that are triggered based on a worker’s location. Or environmental settings that are automatically adjusted based on a user’s preferences.

Integration

Integration is already making big waves in the enterprise environment. Slack, a messaging app for teams, is the fastest growing enterprise app of all time, and a large part of their success can be attributed to the huge number of integrations available that make Slack even more powerful.

Integration is critical to allow systems to talk to one another, reducing manual and time-consuming processes. For example, mobile time-sheeting that integrates with the payroll system. Or mobile issues that integrate with a work order (CMMS) system. Or real-time alerts for significant changes in system data. Expect integration to become a key focus for facilities management professionals as they look to drive operational efficiencies and reduce costs.

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This answer was originally posted by Ben Howden on Quora

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