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Artificial intelligence continues to overhaul facilities management

By Ben Yexley, Head of Business Development at askporter, shares his reflections on facilities management in 2023, and looks at some predictions for 2024.

Innovative technology has become a main conversation point across the facilities management sector in 2023. With a cost-of-living crisis, energy supply challenges, and rising interest and inflation rates, the launch of Chat-GPT 4 on the 14th March 2023 certainly seemed to contrast the external pressures in the world.

The excitement surrounding these new capabilities of AI tools has led to technology solutions being integrated across industries in an attempt to make processes more efficient.

These innovations have become increasingly relevant within the FM subsector as well. With building and facilities management services representing up to 25 per cent of total costs for some organisations, these factors of cost-cutting can often fall on FM. In order to keep costs low, there has been a big drive for operational efficiency, and technology has emerged as an important vessel for driving these improvements.

For this, we have seen large and international building and facilities managers adopt artificial intelligence (AI), looking not only to make operations more efficient, but to gain a more detailed and nuanced view of their management.

Beyond that, there has been a realisation across the field that data-driven decision-making leads to more efficient operations. By integrating AI into FM, organisations are able to collect and manage large amounts of data. Through this, we can make decisions based on actual information, improving predictive and preventative maintenance and limiting the number of repairs needed.

We see these changes and the differences they make first-hand at askporter, where we use AI in our digital assistant to automate communication and operations. Through this, we have watched the industry start to embrace the benefits of AI-integration.

At askporter, we are using both cutting edge advanced AI like Large Language Models (LLMs) and Generative AI, as well as tried and tested technology like Natural Language Processing and Machine learning, to deliver highly configured white label assistants that enable customers and employees to raise request/issues, update work orders or jobs, or simply aid in finding information or ordering materials.

In 2023, FM wasn’t immune to the AI hype

Few industries were left untouched by the exciting AI advancements in 2023. FM was no exception. With generative AI breaking onto the scene, and significant advancements in LLMs and NLPs, FM professionals were naturally launched into a search to find a way to best harness this rapidly developing technology.

From greater energy efficiency, predictive maintenance, to streamlined workflows, AI has made a splash in FM; an industry which previously has underutilised the potentials of automation. One of the key drivers of AI-implementation is cost reduction. AI can be leveraged by facilities and property managers to ensure that their clients are getting the most cost-effective solutions at all times.

At askporter, we have found AI instrumental for improving customer experience. By creating digital assistants that are available to communicate with customers across various platforms, at any time, all while generating natural responses and actionable outcomes, facilities managers can expect significant return on investment.

The excitement around new AI tools will not stop in December. We can expect even greater capabilities, including our own from askporter, to be unveiled in 2024, alongside more adoption across the subsector.

Preventative maintenance: a stitch in time saves nine

The improvement in 2023 has mainly been about improving data integrity. This helps increase the rate of first-time fixes, and improve predictive maintenance, because every time an asset is interacted with (fixed, serviced etc) this is being directly updated on CAFM systems. Some larger FM businesses are deploying AI to analyse these assets and try to get even further ahead with predictive and preventative maintenance.

We at askporter believe that using a joint up front end system like ours enables every single interaction to keep asset registered and maintenance records up to date. This is just as important as analysing the data, as poor data integrity will no doubt lead to poor decision making.

What can we expect in FM in 2024?

Well, it’s quite simple, we can expect more AI and through that, greater operational efficiency, more time and more profit, for FM professionals.

By automating manual facility management tasks, AI integration can free up time to focus on value-add initiatives, interpersonal engagement, long-term strategy, and new ideas. Many facility managers don’t have the bandwidth to handle day-to-day operations and execute larger strategic initiatives, AI can assist by managing tasks and allowing for increased organisation.

Facilities management only stands to benefit from greater automation, and early adoption means exponential returns. AI adoption will lead to increased effectiveness without increasing human resource and related costs.

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