2-4 December 2024 | ExCel London

The crucial role of digital tech in FM

A blog written for Facilities Show by Paul Bullard, Director of Product Management at FSI, an MRI Software company

Back in 2019, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, stated that “every business is now a software company.”

He didn’t mean that suddenly a facilities management organisation must employ teams of code hungry developers but rather that companies must provide technology solutions to all stakeholders across the businesses. The expectation today is that a successful facilities management operation includes the technology to connect, engage, and transact with employees, customers, and the supply chain.

Disruption vs. innovation

Disruption is a term coined some years ago and is sometimes confused with innovation. The difference is that innovation improves upon an idea or process, while disruption eliminates the need for that process in the first place.

One of the biggest disruptions in recent memory has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last two years, we’ve seen sudden dramatics shifts in customer requirements across industries around the world, including facilities management.

The evolution of  facilities management

Now more than ever, businesses must be adaptable and nimble to survive in today’s global economy. It’s essential for the facilities management industry to maintain up-to-date working practices and processes to accommodate these ever-changing requirements. The latest facilities management software drives the adoption of new maintenance strategies, hygiene standards, air quality management and social distancing, to name a few.

Here are some ways the industry is evolving:

  •  Digitalisation: Before digitalisation, being a compliant business required producing huge volumes of disjointed, paper-based documentation. We now have seamless digital solutions that allow information to be collated effortlessly, with appropriate authorisations and safeguards governing an automated process. If necessary, the relevant data can be retrieved in seconds along with providing full accountability with comprehensive audit trails implemented at every stage of the process.
  • Workforce mobilisation: Mobile workforce solutions have revolutionised the effectiveness of our facilities management employees. The workforce apps allow the business to free their facilities team to do what they do best and automate complex processes alongside constant support and supervision. By enabling the flow of data from remote sources instantly into the facilities management system, resources become faster, more responsive, and fully informed. All this with the benefit of real-time data capture to ensure that everyone in the organisation always has the most up-to-date information at their fingertips.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): Another hot topic, AI, is not only becoming mainstream, but it’s also finding a home in many of today’s most advanced solutions. By intelligently using the enormous volume of data facilities managers are already collecting, we can do some very exciting things that can dramatically alter operational capability. For example, we can proactively using historical data to predict possible delays for a job, change from calendar to data driven maintenance or even dynamically adjust our cleaning regimes to maximise efficiencies. This is a significant movement for an industry that has traditionally been governed by retrospective reports and dashboards.
  • Internet of things (IoT): IoT is essentially a network of connected devices that are embedded with sensor technology.  Sensors in buildings are by no means a new phenomenon. Many sensors are pre-installed throughout a facility as components of a building management system (BMS). Now that technology has advanced significantly, we can take advantage of machine learning techniques to identify patterns in this sensory data to reduce management and operational costs, as well as maximising the value of our assets.

It is now mandatory that services delivered by facilities management companies must be data-driven, customer-oriented, and agile to be successful. Being a digital facilities business gives companies the agility and resilience to efficiently manage suppliers, optimise the workforce, and better serve customers. Businesses must be able to adapt quickly to disruption and uncertainty. COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of a digital-first model for the facilities management industry, forcing companies to prioritise their long-term digitalisation strategy.

The technology is here and ready. Now, is the time for forward-thinking business leaders to embrace these wonderful technologies and secure their place in a digital-first future.

So, let’s get digitalised!


Paul Bullard is Director of Product Management at FSI, an MRI Software company. FSI and MRI provide leading facilities and property management technology to the global market and are a Facilities Show exhibitor. 


Published 14/06/2022