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News & opinion

13 AUG 2018

Futureproofing FM

Disruptors are coming in and we need to respond accordingly.

This is the viewpoint of Ross Abbate, Group Managing Director, Mace Macro who joined industry leaders at the RICS Strategic Facility Management Conference 2018 to debate the future direction of the FM profession.

He believes the sector is only now starting to fully get to grips with how to utilise technology, despite being available and talked about for a number of years.

How are Mace Macro currently using technology to benefit clients?

There’s a lot of talk about how the Internet of Things is driving innovation across the sector. We have taken a step back to look at what specific tasks we can best use technology for. For example, how can we utilise the data collected from sensors in bathrooms to then inform a more efficient and proactive process for cleaning and maintenance? In simple terms, we’re trying to solve specific problems rather than saying we’re using everything. The key is collating data which we can fully utilise and understand.

Are you able to utilise BIM for your work?

Absolutely, and being part of a construction business, this is very important. Our experience means we know that adopting BIM at the earliest stages of a project brings the greatest benefits. Even at concept stage - it’s never too early to start.

We are building great BIM systems which contain valuable data for FM, however the link historically hasn’t been made. We’ve therefore carried out a lot of work around how you bring across O&M manuals into CAFM systems to link the whole thing together. BIM provides the building owner or operator with a valuable facilities management tool for future operations, facilities performance analysis, maintenance assistance and future alteration, renovation or demolition.

Is the industry moving quick enough when it comes to embracing technology?

I think it is moving, however what we are seeing now is people and businesses realising the potential and how to use technology which has already been around for two or three years. Perhaps this is the biggest challenge to date – to understand what a particular piece of new technology means and whether it is right for a particular solution.

People are starting to slowly use versions of AI for maintenance - where a technician is able to address a fault in a system which has already been diagnosed. These types of technologies are only now starting to become widespread.

What are the key opportunities ahead?

The whole FM market is focussing much more on workplace and using data to create a workplace experience. You’ve seen the retail sector do it to create retail experiences, and now we are doing the same.

We are now focussed on delivering far more customer service focused training to help our teams in front facing roles to deliver a better and more personal service - again as part of our work to create workplace experiences. I think this trend is set to continue.

For those looking to enter the profession, what advice would you give?

In today’s FM world it’s about having the ability to adapt and learn new skills because things will continue to change. The disruptors are coming in and you need to be able to recognise this and respond accordingly.

You also need to have an open mind. Just because we’ve been doing something one way for years, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the right thing going forward, and the way things are changing you need to be flexible.

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