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Clouded judgement?

Dick Kronman, Global Solution Technology Manager, Digital Systems at ABB, on why some FMs are still reluctant to embrace the cloud and puts the record straight about the most common myths and barriers to implementation

Cloud computing – essentially, the act of storing and accessing all your data, applications and infrastructure over the Internet as opposed to a physical hard drive – can have a transformative effect on the efficacy of modern facilities management.

Fundamentally, by moving an FM application to the cloud, your data can be accessed remotely, in real-time, anywhere in the world. This makes it easier to manage facilities and work orders across multiple locations and support the needs of an increasingly dynamic and mobile workforce by ensuring that everyone has access to the latest information.

Also, cloud software, because it is virtually based, drastically reduces the number and type of expensive hardware devices needed on site, meaning less to install, update and maintain, along with significantly lower electricity bills.

Through the ability to access real-time data, a cloud-based approach empowers FMs to make better-informed decisions about energy use and emissions. More so, as more key applications such as lighting, HVAC and security become digitalised, the visibility afforded by a cloud approach ensures FMs are able to embrace the full benefits of each technology.

Yet the pace and scale of cloud adoption within the FM sector remains limited. The fact is even in asset-intensive industries a large majority of FMs are still trying to make do with outdated, legacy IT infrastructure that is no longer fit for purpose – but why?


The first challenge to face is demonstrating the business case and return on investment for migrating to the cloud. All too often there seems to be a misunderstanding about how critical the cloud is to meet today’s facilities demands. Some businesses may think that the cloud is ‘just another fad’ and won’t last. There may also be a misconception that migrating to the cloud can be hugely expensive.

That is not our experience; cloud adoption continues to see exponential growth as it becomes more widely recognised as the ultimate cost-saving technology to tackle high energy costs and achieve net zero targets. In this way, even though the initial investment may seem significant it will pay for itself virtually overnight by making operations much more efficient, reducing downtime and enabling the same equipment to give more output using the same – or less – energy.


Another common misconception is that cloud migration is hugely complex and entails lots of costly disruption.

The reality, however, is that the longest part of any migration activity is usually the planning stage – reviewing existing infrastructure, robust testing and preparing employees and end-users. More so, a good migration partner will work with you to assess your exact needs and help map out a complete migration plan to ensure you understand how your new infrastructure will run, and give your team the chance to learn how to use it before going live.

So long as it is well planned, it’s possible to conduct a ‘lift and shift’ model where the migration takes place behind the scenes over a period of a few weeks while maintaining business-as-usual operations.


Security is often listed as another concern for companies considering cloud adoption. As data breaches and information hacks continue to rise, there appears to be a belief that data is more secure if it’s on the premises. However, this is far from accurate.

The reality is that both hardware and cloud-based solutions have vulnerabilities. However, the difference with dealing with cloud providers is the protection of both the infrastructure and the cloud services is priority one and their capital investment belongs to it. Not only will they have invested heavily in the latest security research and innovation, but FMs can rest assured of having the top IT security talent to work solely on keeping their data secure.

It is also important to note that the cloud can be audited, updated, and secured much easier and quicker than physical infrastructure.


There is also a misplaced view that the cloud limits control because if something is in the cloud and they can’t physically see it, they may not be able to access it whenever the need arises.

The reality is quite the opposite. At ABB, our Digital Systems team is able to develop bespoke, future-orientated cloud solutions for various electrification processes and infrastructure segments designed to drive a new era of modern facilities management.

Through an intuitive, custom-built interface, these solutions enable FMs to access, view and control data on multiple facilities and devices, both locally and globally, whenever they need it and from anywhere. Everything from energy performance through to environmental properties of facilities can be viewed and monitored in real-time, enabling in-depth analysis and better strategic decisions. In addition, predictive maintenance features can help to identify and address problems early before they become a more serious issue.

Through better control of energy usage alone, this approach can help FMs save hundreds of thousands of kilowatt hours per year and shrink their carbon footprint while preparing for almost every eventuality – all without even having to step foot on site.

About Sarah OBeirne

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