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Will 2021 Be The Breakthrough Year For Digital-First Facilities Management?

While the pace of digitization in facilities management has been sluggish for many years, the pandemic has triggered many firms to review their technology strategies. According to our interviews with 250 corporate facilities executives, COVID-19 has driven 14% of firms to re-evaluate their use of technology and 47% to accelerate digitization. Firms are focusing their investments on digitizing paper-based processes for maintenance and visitor management. They are also making new investments into software to support agile workplaces, including space booking software and workplace apps.

For many in the facilities management sector, COVID-19 has created a unique inflection point for digitization strategies. It has significantly strengthened the business case for a wide range of digital technologies that support real-time decision-making and remote management, such as IoT platforms. It has also bulldozed through long-standing concerns held by risk-averse IT teams about remote collaboration technology and the cloud. For example, services firm Mitie is rolling out Accruent’s remote monitoring platform to deliver its services more effectively using data analysis and remote control. While the World Trade Centre has recently implemented sensors across 140 restrooms supporting remote monitoring and smart cleaning programmes.

Despite all this positive momentum, there are still long-running challenges that ambitious facilities managers need to address. Firstly, managers need to find compelling ways to secure funding from centralized IT and real estate budgets, given that local-level budgets are often too small to fund transformational technology projects where paybacks extend over many years. Secondly, managers will need to try out bold new strategies for procuring outsourced facilities services, such as payment-by-results contracts or shared-savings agreements. This will help bring new innovation into services contracts that continue to be scoped around labour effort.

All things considered, 2021 is looking set to be a pivotal year for the step up of digitization in facilities management. To gain insights on moving towards a digital-first facilities management strategy, join our virtual event Digitizing Facilities Management taking place on March 18, 2021. Our speaker line up includes corporate leaders from AVEVA, ExxonMobil, Mace and Oracle.

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Susan Clarke

Research Director, Smart Buildings, Verdantix
Verdantix
Verdantix

Susan leads the Verdantix Smart Buildings practice. Her current research agenda focuses on software solutions for real estate management including integrated workplace management systems and IoT platforms for buildings. Her research expertise also includes a broad range of energy management technologies and energy services. Susan has eight years of experience in technology research. She holds a MSc from the University of London in Sustainable Development.