Researching how technology will enhance the delivery and direction of FM in the future has led me to fill my Twitter feed with like-minded FM professionals, clear thinking futurologists and enthusiastic property tech experts from around the globe. Does that mean my news feed is a reassuring echo chamber, punctuated by the latest top 10 listing of this or that technology that will disrupt our sector in the future? Or am I being better informed?
Workplace Futures 17 (WPF17) in February convinced me that my twitter feed is a reasonable barometer of the technical revolution that confronts our industry. The next question is how do we respond as a sector and what personally should we be doing? At WPF17 Professor John Hinks said: “We’ve been looking at digitisation for 20 years, we’re now in that moment.” He further explained that there is a whole series of meta level organisations taking data, drawing out analysis of organisations and workplaces and building a picture which could seriously influence the service experience that people receive. Social scientist, Iain Ellison of 3edges agreed with Professor Hinks on the effect of digital disruption, but also pointed out that data and facts don’t always influence how people think.
We can’t take the data on face value. We would be negligent if we were not more critical about the information and the data we gather; having conversations and working collaboratively to increase our knowledge and wisdom. How do we do that and enhance, embrace and benefit from the technology available to us right now? We have some choices.
Upskilling ourselves on the latest augmented reality or is virtual reality and all the hardware that goes with it the place to be? Maybe looking at investing in robots for the delivery of our services or will drones be the key player in the market place going forward? Or utilising the power of Artificial intelligence whilst recognising the threat of machine learning to the embedded knowledge we all hold dear.
But ask yourself this, once we’ve navigated the complex web of hardware and software opportunities that are available in the FM or PropTech world, then what about the influence of FinTech and new ways of trading such as blockchain and a whole new world of transacting in the future.
This technology stuff is almost never ending.
This is our dilemma. FM will be technology led, data driven and will increasingly be focussed on the needs and requirements of the end user. The consumers of our services are becoming more engaged and connected with the services that are being delivered and are being empowered to feedback and adapt the delivery they receive. So, yes, use the technology, but we need to listen (not just hear) to what end users are saying – not just data about them. We can’t allow the idea of the technology to get in the way of that interaction.
A new world of reality where technology is a driver and an enabler, confronts us. We need to look forward to a world which embraces, combines and exploits the technology at our hands for the improvement of the services we deliver and the betterment of the people that work within our sector.
The FM industry has always been incredibly innovative and we now have the opportunity and tools to really drive ourselves forward with pace and power.
I don’t think the cautious, incremental approach is necessarily what is needed. FM would be left behind. This is a time for pioneers, for leaders in our sector to transform our delivery and excite both our deliverers and the end users about the impact FM can have on their daily lives.
Facilities management has never been a more exciting place to operate and we should see a future where our sector appeals to and attracts the very best of talent to come and develop innovative and exciting solutions across all areas of the built environment.