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Senior FM leaders resistant to digital progress, says research

More than two-thirds (71 per cent) of C-suite executives, directors and senior managers are sceptical about the benefits of implementing new business technology.

According to new research, the Connected Enterprise report, produced by digital transformation specialists Sigma Dynamics, in partnership with applied futurist Tom Cheesewright, outdated attitudes towards technology amongst senior facilities management business leaders are at risk of jeopardising future business survival.

Exploring this scepticism, the research shows that 64 per cent are doubtful that it improves efficiency, 71 per cent cynical about its ability to improve productivity, and 79 per cent question its positive impact on customer relationships.

Interestingly, 13 per cent think technology can cause problems if not implemented carefully, while eight per cent worry that the cost often outweighs the benefits, and another eight per cent believe the traditional way of operating is more effective.

Colin Crow, MD of Sigma Dynamics, commented: “From these statistics we can infer that many senior businesspeople in the facilities management industry that have been burned by previous digital transformation efforts. It is unfortunately quite common for businesses to choose the wrong technologies, or roll them out without enough support for employees, which can be very costly mistakes.

“Some of these misconceptions are therefore understandable, but as the twin threats of Brexit and the Covid-19 have shown us over the past year, the business landscape can change with incredible speed.

“Organisations must be agile and open-minded in order to cope with the impact of these, and other, national and global challenges that we will all inevitably face, and it will soon become almost impossible for businesses to thrive without the help of strategically planned and implemented technological innovations.

“However, from our research it’s frustratingly clear that these events still have not served as a wake-up call for complacent business leaders.”

The report found that more than two-thirds (71 per cent) of those surveyed believe that Brexit will have an impact on their customers’ demands and expectations over the next five years, while 59 per cent think that the pandemic will, suggesting that the vast majority are conscious of some of the difficulties that potentially lie ahead.

However, 40 per cent said that they don’t believe that changes in customer demands and expectations will require the adoption of more business technology, and only half think that events such as Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have made business technology more essential to success.

Worryingly, just a fifth (21 per cent) said that they believe they will have to implement more technology in order to remain competitive.

Applied futurist, Tom Cheesewright, added: “Covid-19 catalysed investment in technology, but that investment was often overdue. If we are to avoid playing catch-up when the next challenge hits – or the next opportunity appears – then we should be thinking now about what changes to our technology, processes, culture and models can best prepare us for the future.

“Making the right investments in technology, and skills, is a critical part of future-proofing any business, adding resilience and agility.”

In February’s edition of FMJ we asked a cross-section of FM suppliers for their views on the digitalisation of facilities management and the role played by data analytics in measuring the quality of service levels in the future. Click here to read our Digital Workplace feature and find out what they said.


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