On Nov 02 2022 / by Cassie Daley

The intersection between tech, innovation and real estate

Change and the successful management of change is the key to staying ahead in the facility management industry

At the cornerstone of any physical workspace lies the work of a facility management team. As we move forward, the workplace and those who support it need to progress along with the expectations of the people who work within these spaces. We’ve seen these changes happen rapidly, like the evolution of the workplace over the past two to three years.

This development is only going to continue to snowball as workspaces and the dynamics within require and demand tech solutions for facility-related concerns.

In the field of facility management, leaders have the opportunity to shape dynamic, nuanced spaces for professional organizations to excel within. In fact, they can (and should) be working toward creating refined, sustainable, and accessible environments. And the more they adapt to the technology that enables these environments, the more they can truly embrace the future of facility management.

In September, our team at Parkable attended the IFMA World Workplace conference, where we learned more about how tech, innovation, and real estate coincide in facility management. Taking away some major learnings from the likes of JLL’s Chief Information Officer Edward Wagoner, John Wang, CEO of IAdea, and Otis Elevator’s Chief Digital Officer Neil Green – we’ve further discovered that facility management is really only viable so long as it remains versatile in the face of our ever-changing and globalizing world.

How facility management is already embracing innovation

It comes as no surprise that the world of facility management has, in some ways, already set the pace for teaming up with tech. One of the sessions we attended at IFMA, called “Leading the digital transformation,” explained how digital tech is entirely necessary when it comes to developing and maintaining spaces that promote: health and well-being, are environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and more. So far, facility management professionals have been pretty agreeable to adopting this tech ASAP.

This year’s 2022 Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) survey received 293 responses, running from 25th January to 25th February. At least one-fifth of responses in the studies were from individuals in facility management service provider organizations across a broad range of industries. From this, researchers say that “those that can harness the potential of new and emerging technologies and successfully apply data capture and analysis techniques to optimize technology use will be at the forefront of growth in the industry.”

Researchers also said in the study that “For those (facility management) companies involved in providing energy-efficiency and management support activities this is likely to provide market opportunities.”

That’s why it is so crucial for facility management to continue on this trend of integrating tech into the built world. Market opportunities definitely exist within facility management, but only really for those who look at the needs of their workspaces and adopt the tools necessary to address them.

Empowering facility management as an agent of change

But, as we all know, sometimes change is a challenge in and of itself. The thing to remember is that tech is adopted to make facility management easier. Meeting the demands of multiple workspaces and staff within is a difficult job, but it can be managed more efficiently with tech solutions. Just like IWFM explains, “(Facility management) professionals hold the key to unlocking the potential and value of new tech, not only in automating more mundane tasks, but also in making people more efficient in roles that will still require human skills.”

Some of the tech solutions that facility management is taking advantage of include smart technology, internet of things (IoT) tech, and data analytics. For example, when it comes to smart technology, sensor systems are used to monitor energy consumption in office buildings and can reduce energy costs by up to 20%. With IoT, connected devices allow for a totally in-sync workspace, as well as a coherent framework for entire facilities. And data analytics is its own ballfield, increasing productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

So, it’s possible to start taking steps toward digitizing the workspace without necessarily taking big leaps of faith. Plus, not every single change needs to be integrated at once; even gradual progress is still progress!

Tech trends to look out for

According to info from a session called “How to buy your next facility management IT Solution,” the types of tech that are gaining speed in facility management right now are computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), work order management, and asset management. Looking into these areas and adopting the solutions that work best for your own space could mean the difference between appeased or dissatisfied occupants.

Over the next 10 years, we expect workspaces to incorporate system integration, building modularisation, automatic monitoring through IoT, artificial intelligence and IT personnel dedicated specifically to facility management-related projects. Already, we’ve seen leaps and bounds with these tools. For example, IoT is making it possible to develop custom mobile apps for accessing facility-related data, launching cloud computing, and using advanced security protocols for protection against data leaks. Meanwhile, AI has helped some organizations cut operational costs in areas like energy, HVAC, security, and other systems through reinforcement learning. And actually, there’s been an integration of IoT and AI in facility management, with both technologies working together to assist facility managers in making major decisions by helping companies plan for the long term.

So, engaging with digitization now can definitely get the ball rolling for cooperative tech further down the road. These trends are super exciting because these tools aren’t singular but rather fully coordinated. They build on one another like building blocks. While that doesn’t mean that you have to immediately begin sweeping for all possible relevant tech, it does mean that there is a future wherein technology is a symbiotic ecosystem.

What is the best way to go about implementing this change?

As we became privy to at the conference, buying new facilities tech can definitely be a bit of a project, but there are strategies to make the entire process smoother and more effective.

Throughout this summit, we learned about how best to get your foot in the door when it comes to tech solutions. If you’re not sure where, exactly, to start, there are resources to get you familiar with where tech and facility intersect. Instead of emails and speeches, opt for interactive workshops and on-the-job support. Look for relevant tech organizations with top-notch customer service that are ready to guide you through the onboarding process. This way, you’re not alone in the process of installing, using, and maintaining unfamiliar tech.

As Stuart Rich, Director of Buildings and Infrastructure at Cartegraph, advises, don’t be afraid to take the crawl, walk, run approach to these changes. In fact, Deloitte says that there are seven key principles for effective change management:

  • Start with the end in mind
  • Understand your institution’s culture
  • Make sure you’re communicating with all affected parties
  • Empathize with those whose roles will shift/change
  • Align incentives, figuring out how different individuals can all benefit from the same action
  • Take change step by step, slowly introducing developments as you’re comfortable moving forward
  • Make sure leadership is keeping track of how each change generates success (or nonsuccess)

With these fundamentals in mind, initiating a tech-friendly FM attitude is much more feasible. There’s no reason to feel overwhelmed or incapable: only take on what you think will actually be beneficial at any given time and build from there.

The parkable approach

After onboarding over 300 properties and countless employees/tenants we feel as though we have a firm grasp on how to streamline the implementation process. Along the way, we have learnt that the largest barrier for businesses and facility managers alike when adopting new technology into the workplace is the lack of a thorough change management strategy. Reinforcing why it is so important to consider tech companies who offer onboarding guidance and support throughout the entire implementation process and into the future.

Consolidated learnings from our customer feedback and experiences have helped to refine our onboarding and implementation processes for businesses of all shapes and sizes, all around the world - including Meta, JLL and KPMG. We have drilled this down to 7 key (and palatable) principles that every facility manager should know when embarking on the journey of change in the workplace.

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