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Data-led decisions

FMJ in partnership with property operations platform Facilio brought together a group of FM thought leaders from both client and services-provider backgrounds to discuss whether taking a tech-centric approach can help organisations transition to data-led building operations and achieve their net zero goals faster


• Sara Bean, Editor, FMJ
• Prabhu Ramachandran, Co-Founder and CEO, Facilio
• Ryan Yates, Senior Account Executive, Facilio
• Jo Bishop, Head of Estates Information and Systems, University of Warwick
• Russell Burnaby, Head of Facilities, Brent Council
• Nicholas Greenwood, Head of Facilities, AQA
• Monica Guise, Director of Facility Services, The University of Birmingham
• Julie Hogarth, Head of Sustainability, JLL
• Adrian Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO, Elyos Energy
• David Lam, Business Development Director, Vertiv
• Hetesh Pal, Principal Building Intelligence Engineer, Hoare Lea
• Fiona Sawkill, Head of Digital Placemaking, British Land
• Luke Lester, Deputy Head of FM Operations Southwark Council
• Matthew Scotchmer, Facilities Management Specialist, CBRE
• Ian Wade, Head of UK Estates, BMA

The FM sector has experienced growing demands to deliver sustainable and cost-effective operations. A recent FMJ readers survey revealed that capital works and lifestyles cycle management are a key priority, with some form of digital asset tracking seen as a crucial way of monitoring buildings.

The survey also found that FM’s are prioritising investment in FM software to help create operational strategies that help enhance performance. However, many are also trying to determine which of these solutions are right for their needs.

Prabhu Ramachandran, CEO and Co-Founder of Facilio, was concerned many of the existing legacy CAFM systems are not suitable for current demands.

“CAFM systems were created as a system of record keeping of assets, but in the last few years, particularly after COVID, FMs need software tools that help them make data-informed decisions. They need to know how their buildings are performing across sites, how to optimise resources and reduce costs, and in the case of public facing properties, how to enhance the customer experience.

“Compare it to other industries. Let’s take for example a banking app. Twenty years back it was based on physical presence, now, most of the banking is done through apps. So, while the world has become more sophisticated, facilities leaders are still working with older tools. That was what prompted us to ask, ‘how do you create a system of action which leaders can use every day to make their decisions?’”


According to both the client and services providers on our panel, how to get to net zero was a prime concern, coupled with how to pay for it given current budget restraints. However, it’s not just about heading towards net zero. One of our panellists from the education sector commented that it’s also how, “we evidence that as well, having that trust in the data and the systems and pulling through the right information so that you can honestly say that there is trust in the data, especially on big campuses”.

Cost is also a big challenge for local authorities as the public sector has a lot of well publicised challenges around budgets, and, as they’re likely to be there for years to come, local authorities are constantly being asked to do more for less.

From the FM’s supplier point of view, clients’ main focus is also on achieving net zero. However, to succeed they require insights on how their buildings are operated and crucially, how they’re performing. A panellist remarked: “Having some data is more impactful than we imagined and being able to look at the data year-on-year is very advantageous.”

The panel also agreed on the huge impact that the emergence of hybrid working has had on the way we manage our buildings. They believe the existing building management systems were designed for the previous world and not for the current ways of working.

Remarked a contributor: “Since COVID we’re seeing loads of increases in electricity and people asking ‘what’s wrong with our asset?’ There’s nothing wrong with the asset. It’s just data for the last two to three years which has been inconsistent with how the building was intended to be used or where we are now at this moment in time.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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