BRUCE MINTY, product marketing manager at Pronto Software, shares his 2014 predictions for the Facility Management sector.
As FM organisations continue to evolve and reposition themselves to gain a competitive advantage, their key focus remains increasing customer satisfaction and uncovering new ways to boost the bottom line. To get ahead in the new year, companies in the sector should be mindful of the emerging trends which include cloud technology, mobility, automation and biometrics, among other things.
According to research released by AMI Partners, small to medium businesses will spend up to $100 billion on cloud computing by 2014, worldwide. This new year will see two main forms of cloud based building automation – hosted building management software (BMS) and active management analytics. Businesses that offer this combined package via the cloud will be well positioned for 2014.
The importance of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for HVAC
The use of BIM software applications, such as Green Building XML and Autodesk’s Revit, integrated with CAD systems will help architects, construction engineers and, more recently, HVAC companies maintain greener and more sustainable buildings. The use of 3D, 4D and 5D modelling technology helps HVAC engineers in design, without needing to engage architects in decisions about duct sizes, electrical co-ordination or airflow specifications. It delivers significant energy savings by enabling engineers to focus on optimising an entire building or system instead of its individual components, a compelling reason for the use of BIM in the FM world.
Biometric systems (aka Facial Recognition Systems)
Biometric systems have been around since the early 1900s. Initially used by the FBI, the identification software is now being used across a range of industries, particularly within border security. Now the FM and commercial sector will see an increased use of Biometric systems over the next five years, delivering a more precise and environmentally friendly technology that provides a range of options – from access control to identity documentation.
HTML5 Web Apps and BYOD Mobility
Anytime, anywhere access to people and information via a mobile device is an integral component to a business’ success today. Very quickly, mobile technologies have become a critical element in the workplace.
The year of 2014 will see the increased use of HTML5, fast becoming the mainstream method for deploying enterprise software on mobile devices. This is mostly because web apps provide native-like functionality and are cheaper to develop. They also offer almost the same level of interoperability with smartphone features as a native app, and accessible via a browser.
BYOD technology and mobility integration will facilitate all facets of the workplace in 2014, allowing for a doubling or even tripling of the mobile workforce. In response to this trend, we are seeing the introduction of enterprise policies on employee-owned hardware that outline clear objectives around employee access to company networks via personal devices. In 2014, organisations should aim to create mobile policies that balance flexibility with confidentiality and privacy requirements of the business.
Total FM (TFM) contracts and workforce integration
Growth in FM will be driven by the proliferation of ‘Total FM’ style contracts, whereby opportunities in FM outsourcing will also include the needs of niche sectors, such as energy management and workplace planning.
Margin pressures and the rationalisation of internal processes has led companies to re-evaluating their maintenance contracts in order to gain value and reduce risks. Companies successful in FM over the coming years will be those that offer ‘end-to-end’ contracts that cover multiple services, continuing the escalating trend of Business Process Outsourcing arrangements.
Outsourcing will be a strong trend continuing in 2014, meaning future leaders in the FM arena will need to be workforce integrators.
FM managers will need to become strategic partners, as well as information providers with an emphasis on corporate and social responsibility. Continuous performance monitoring and training of staff in sustainability practices and new technologies will be a key focus for FM integrators looking to remain competitive this year.
The focus on ‘Strategic FM’
The year ahead should bring an increasing trend in customers exploring how FM can help their business achieve competitive advantage, with companies taking a more strategic approach to FM resources and contracts. There will be more of a focus on aligning FM services with operational performance, to result in tangible cost savings, enhanced productivity and workforce efficiencies. The focus is rapidly shifting away from service-oriented discussion to value driven dialogue, meaning FM high achievers are thinking more strategically when responding to new opportunities by articulating a clear and measurable value proposition.
The increased co-existence of motion detection devices and video surveillance being used in conjunction with HVAC systems is evident within the FM space. There lies huge benefit for FM managers where this technology aids the identification of maintenance issues, such as the detection of water leaks. Ultimately, motion detection allows businesses to be more functionally sound and proficient in day-to-day operations.
Furthermore, the FM industry should embrace many exciting opportunities due to emerging advancements in 2014. Smart organisations should recognise the benefits that technological advancements provide through data intelligence, increased communications and productivity. The role of Facilities Management is evolving and 2014 will be a time to showcase specialist skills and invaluable business insights.