In lieu of the live Facilities Show, there were opportunities to hear from some of the leading vendors and experts in FM at Facilities Show Connect (8 -10 June)
This immersive digital experience brought the Facilities Management Community together online with a range of product demonstrations, insightful webinars and opportunities to network. The week featured a series of tech talks from FM suppliers; including ACCO, Denis Rawlins, Zeelo, Planon, SWG, Elogbooks, FSI @Yourservice, CADM and Dutchview.
The programme’s online demonstrations included the opportunity to put questions to the vendors following their presentations. These sessions showcased how digital solutions can allow FMs to monitor and control assets more easily and use the data gathered to improve business processes that result in cost savings based on real time facts and figures.
Discussions revolved around the ways COVID has accelerated the tech process, as people adapt to new ways of working. For instance, we heard about the use of smart solutions such as mobile apps that allows users to scan QR codes to get straight to the information they require. This can help FMs manage increasingly agile workplace environments; from visitor and access management in buildings to supporting workers based at home.
The demos also highlighted the advantages of using smart technologies which offer FMs the ability to collect, store, analyse and distribute vast amounts of data. For FMs going forward, this kind of technology means they can not only monitor and control various processes but it can help them improve business processes to make cost savings based on real time facts and figures.
All of these advantages were explored in more depth in the series of panel discussions that took place during the week. These comprised insights into ‘The Future of the Workplace’, “How Digital FM can Accelerate your Cost Savings, Compliance and Engagement Strategies’, and the ‘Benefits of Data Driven Decision Making’.
The Future of the Workplace – A Global Perspective, focused on research by MRI Software in partnership with CoreNet Global. The research found that tenants and landlords were considering or implementing physical changes in the office to address social distancing and hygiene concerns and both groups intended to increase their usage of technology to help them manage the changes.
According to Andy Birch of MRI Real Estate Software, what this suggests for facilities managers is that what was often seen as reactive position prior to COVID is now a key strategic role.
“The challenge now for FMs is to work out what is available in terms of work spaces and make decisions on how to get people to return to the office. They’ve a wide remit around the preparation of workplaces, from the access to the office, i.e. entry and exits, to issues such as staggering the working day.”
The survey also revealed that landlords do not expect remote work to impact their business. This optimism extends to landlords expecting tenants back in the office sooner than tenants are reporting.
“We talk about return to work, said Nicholas Franks of MRI Real Estate Software, “but what we’re seeing is that businesses are open but they aren’t full. This is why over the past year workplace return solutions have been a focal point for many organisations and why MRI has been working to provide a knowledge base on the future of the workplace.”
During the session on digital FM, Paul Bullard of FSI noted that when we look at the latest tech it’s about taking the data it provides and applying that alongside ‘people’ factors. When we consider the use of sensors he said, we must be careful not to miss the most important sensor – the person who works in the building. Ultimately it is occupants who keep FM informed on what they like or don’t like, and areas that may be problematic. He concluded: “It’s about taking that data and overlaying that with HR factors, to produce some real outcomes.”
This view was echoed by Alan Rose of CadM who advised that the office needs to be repurposed as a destination – where people visit to do something specific. One of the important things to consider when repurposing the workplace, he said will be adaptability, “and it is technology that will help us understand whether we’ve got the new look office right.”
During the FMJ hosted session, Data Driven Decision Making, which concentrated on how the data gathered was used, Hazel Bedson, Strategy Director of Service Works Group offered some valuable advice on getting buy-in from the senior management team.
“This includes informing them of the benefits, both operationally and financially which means build a business case and ideally include a return on investment projection. ‘Ask, you’re making this investment of X amount now but what will be the savings in five or 10 years?’ A good vendor will work with you to help make that business case.”
Mark Griffiths, Founder & MD of WMA Conultancy Sevices Ltd warned that it’s important to consider that organisations will use data in different ways and the key is to determine what works for you and not to be overwhelmed with the choices on hand.
And finally, offering a valuable snapshot of a real user experience, Edward Payne Chief Engineer, Kettering Hospital described how a series of basic software systems were upgraded into one seamless data-based solution which means that everyone utilising the system has access to real time data.
Facilities Show Connect was part of a series of online events co-located with IFSEC International, FIREX, Safety & Health Expo, Intelligent Building Europe and Workplace Wellbeing Show that combined, offer delegates the chance to learn from over 70 educational sessions, hear from over 100 speakers, and network with over 300 leading industry suppliers.
All of the sessions will be available online until the end of July at: www.facilitiesshow.com/en/connect-2021/what-is-connect-2021.html