Reimagining Facility Management in the Digital age

In these days of disruption and disintermediation there’s a constant pressure on organisations to innovate and here too, the workplace has an important role to play, supporting collaboration and boosting creativity.

14 Sep 2018

By Rajesh Pandit

Reimagining Facility Management in the Digital age
Technology is one key trends currently influencing Facility Management today. Technology and changing attitudes to the workplace are driving a transformation of corporate real estate and with it, the traditional image of the real estate professional.

Gone are the days when the real estate function was seen as an overhead and its professionals solely as engineers. FM is coming of age and the next generation of real estate professionals will more closely resemble business managers and leaders who combine empathy, strategic thinking, commercial expertise and an eye for innovation and continuous improvement. This will more accurately reflect the role of the function as an enabler of change and agility as well as a key driver of performance.

Data driven decision-making

Smart workplaces equal smart insights. The benefits of Internet-enabled building management systems are compelling. A Smart workplace has the ability to put all of your systems on a common reporting platform which will generate easily accessible information and identify faults, performance issues and cause-and-effect scenarios. It also gives you the ability to manage your space now and forecast what you’ll need in the future. Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2025 data analytics will be critical for addressing issues such as energy savings, reduction of total life cycle costs, business efficiency and sustainability.

Respondents to CBRE’s 2016 EMEA Occupier Survey acknowledged that data was critical – 75 per cent citing better data quality and accuracy as key to achieving strategic real estate goals. They want to measure the key drivers of performance – property and people – and the links between them. In most cases they recognize that the technology tools exist to allow them to do this and that there is no shortage of information per se, but harnessing it to address strategic challenges is still a major task.

If organisations invest in technology it can give them a better window into their world, enabling them to make more informed decisions. Strategic insights Data doesn’t just make a difference when it comes to individual assets. You can apply the same principle to all aspects of the portfolio and drive significant value.

Smart technology and Artificial Intelligence

Imagine arriving at a building for a meeting where the electronic security system automatically recognises you, scanning your iris or fingerprint and allowing you through the barriers. You take the lift, which already knows which floor you need and when you emerge; your phone shows you the most direct route to your meeting room. As you arrive, the temperature and lighting adjusts to take into account the fact that there will be two people in the room and the telecom system automatically dials you into your conference call.

Much of the technology already exists to make this happen – the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) as it’s known, relates to the ability to connect devices over the Internet and allow them to talk to us, to applications, and to each other. Gartner forecasts that 25 billion connected things will be in use by 2020 up from 4.9 billion in 2015.16 Only a few companies have truly brought the concept of the smart building to life yet. But it’s predicted that intelligent buildings will be commonplace by 2020.

Every asset or device within the building – such as lights, sensors, windows, HVAC units, doors and CCTV – having a unique identity and all fully integrated into a network.

Improving user experience

Creating smart buildings through Energy efficiency, sustainability and the ability to support a mobile workforce are big drivers for clients today. A lot of it is to do with attracting and retaining the best staff – making life as comfortable and as easy as possible for people. Clients see smart buildings as a means of enhancing the ‘customer experience’ for employees. They offer corporate real estate professionals the kind of detailed data-driven insights into the customer experience they’re actively seeking.


The next key trend is wellness. Wellness is one area that’s close to the hearts of millennials who have a particularly high commitment to health and wellbeing. As Goldman Sachs reports, millennials define ‘healthy’ as more than just ‘not sick’ — it’s a daily commitment to eating well and exercising.

Wellness is emerging as the key influential trend in APAC as social, demographic and technological changes drive a more proactive approach to managing health and well being.

In real estate sector companies across the region are investing in prgrames to enhance the well being of their employees and it’s not hard to see why these programmes are growing in popularity. As, apart from supporting the wellness of employees, they bring benefits for business.

FM professionals that introduce health and wellness services are helping to attract and keep talent and reduce the cost of absenteeism. CBRE’s latest Healthy Offices research suggests that there is a direct relationship between wellness measures and the bottom line as they can improve employee productivity by an average of 10 per cent.

Thus, as many choose to work for longer, the workplace increasingly has to accommodate three generations. So a big question for FM professionals is how best to balance the needs of different age groups? Wellness in the workplace is one response and is seen as a key way of attracting and keeping key talent. In these days of disruption and disintermediation there’s a constant pressure on   organisations to innovate and here too, the workplace has an important role to play, supporting collaboration and boosting creativity.