Technology the driving force in FM growth
What does the future hold for facility management?
New research shows that facility management is set to grow over the next 12 months, with technology as the driving force behind it. Results of the Facilities Management Software Survey have revealed FMs across Asia Pacific to be forward thinking pioneers, taking advantage of new technology developments in order to boost their competitiveness and deliver strong results.
Leading FM software provider Service Works Global and FM Magazine conducted research across Asia Pacific in December last year, drawing hundreds of responses from across the profession including facility managers, FM service providers, in-house engineers, contractors and consultants. The results are mostly reflective of Australia where the majority of respondents (84 percent) were based, but views were also registered from areas such as New Zealand and Asia.
Challenges in FM
When asked what would be significant FM technology trends over the next 12 months, respondents felt mobile apps (66 percent), whole life asset costing (54 percent) and BIM (52 percent) would be high profile.
With budgets looking stable for the majority of FMs (59 percent), and around a third experiencing an increase, we are seeing many FMs taking on new challenges. A strong focus on asset management was reported across the board, with some having been allocated additional budget for this purpose.
With increased construction generally attributed to helping buoy the economy following the downturn, we are now seeing that the ageing assets from these buildings are requiring more attention.
While in 2012, a surprising number of FMs had already turned to the relatively new concept of FM software systems (59 percent), only two thirds of those were using it for asset management, focussing more on planned (73 percent) and reactive (71 percent) maintenance. Results from this year’s survey show that 68 percent are now reporting using FM software, with just 6 percent solely relying on Excel spreadsheets or paper based systems.
Seventy-three percent now reported using FM software for asset management. The prominence of whole life asset costings in the survey shows FMs are increasingly forward thinking, budgeting for the long-term and looking to identify underperforming assets, balance PPM and reactive costs, and make more informed asset procurement decisions.
Integration and IoT
The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Australia and across the world means that FMs should be prepared for higher levels of system integration. Confidence in integration with other applications is already fairly high, with 56 percent of those using FM software reporting integration with at least one other system such as finance, BMS or energy management. This also increased ROI (return on investment): 63 percent stated that their FM software saved them money, and this rose to 81 percent among those who were integrating with other applications.
Samantha Fuller, general manager at Service Works Global for the Asia Pacific region has been seeing the effects of integration in the market for a while. “Integration is a key strategy for Service Works’ clients, who have identified both direct and indirect cost savings from integrating FM software with other systems. This includes the benefits of automation savings, by keeping human intervention to a minimum, resulting in reduced labour and operating costs plus the advantages of having centralised, real-time accurate data for improved reporting and informed decision making.”
Although just 15 percent are currently integrating their FM software with BIM, Service Works’ 2012 FM Software Survey – Australia showed it was already on the horizon with just three percent fewer respondents reporting integration. Coupled with over half of all respondents identifying BIM as a trend this year, if and when BIM becomes more widespread, or even mandatory in the public sector as seen in the UK, facility managers will be ready to utilise the data gained to full effect.
Mobile for productivity
In addition to embracing digital systems and integration, the survey shows that facility managers are taking advantage of consumer technology such as mobiles – 62 percent of in-house engineers and service providers reported using mobile technology to manage FM.
The figure as a whole is lower than in the UK in 2016, where 72 percent reported using mobile devices, but as a younger market the take-up on mobile in Asia Pacific is rapid. From hardly appearing in Service Works’ 2012 survey to around two thirds take up this year suggests an industry quick to see opportunities for growth.
Self-Service is also a rapidly growing function in FM since 2012: 67 percent of respondents now allow building users, contractors or engineers to log jobs, books rooms or request services from devices like public computers, kiosks or mobile devices. These changes point to a greater focus on results and productivity – which respondents stated they are gaining from FM software. Eighty-nine percent experienced increased auditability and 87 percent benefitted from increased reporting, which can be attributed to improved data management and powerful reporting tools, allowing for more insightful strategic decision making and forecasting to keep organisations running efficiently and cost effectively.
The survey results suggest that the industry will continue to experience growth in 2017. In addition to the stable or increasing budgets, the use of technology has also risen, which will ultimately lead to cost savings and productivity gains. One service provider stated that technology is a “differentiator between competitors”, which summarises the landscape in FM at the moment – those using technology such as FM software are experiencing better results and increased savings than those who are not.
FM Magazine also covered Service Works’ survey here.
This article also appears in the April/May issue of Facility Management magazine.
Image copyright: Copyright: jirsak / 123RF Stock Photo