IoT and the Modern Facilities Manager

Unless a company considers how physical infrastructure will impact its overall performance, the risk of failure is vast.
By Hugues Meyrath
Sep 10, 2017

Facilities management is a broad discipline in which professionals are responsible for designing, building, maintaining, upgrading or even closing physical premises (and everything associated with them). An increasingly important role of a facilities manager (FM) is to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of support and maintenance of all assets and equipment that it serves.

In addition to overseeing a location's physical environment, a facilities manager also oversees the people and organization. In essence, he or she is responsible for making sure that all facilities—be it a restaurant chain, a retail store or a health-care location—meet the needs of employees, customers, browsers, etc., by managing all of the required services. This includes ensuring the seamless integration of individuals, systems, places, processes, regulations and technology, and involves hundreds of moving parts, especially for those operating multi-location facilities.

One of the most important pieces of the FM's puzzle is applying the appropriate safeguards to the equipment critical for brand uptime, which is a new way to consider how the physical infrastructure impacts a company's overall performance. This can include proper maintenance and performance. Without it, the risk of failure is vast—and, in this day and age of innovation, unacceptable.

IoT in Facilities Management
Innovation around the Internet of Things (IoT) has catalyzed FM into a new era—one in which critical equipment is internet-enabled, allowing communication from all sorts of devices so they may report on their own condition and needs, bringing dramatic changes to the world of facilities management. Known for its traditional and unvarying processes, facilities management has seen a baseline increase in innovation throughout the past decade, transitioning from traditional pen-and-paper processes to workflow-based software—which, unsurprisingly, has proven to yield a far greater level of efficiency.

Based on existing technology and what's in the pipeline, it's reasonable to expect an increase in efficient facilities propelled by IoT integration, including machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), throughout the next decade. In fact, McKinsey estimates that the IoT will have a $4 trillion to $11 trillion economic impact by 2025, with operations management and predictive maintenance topping the list of greatest impact.

The benefits of the IoT in FM are endless: greater visibility into the equipment and maintenance ecosystem eliminates inefficient processes, driving more informed repair and replace decisions with a desired impact on the bottom line. Self-monitoring assets facilitate preemptive maintenance, enabling FMs to be everywhere at once. With everything from heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment to lighting, as well as food and beverage dispensers reporting on their respective needs, FMs will even be able to identify seasonal trends, further extending their value within the organization.

Benefits
It's no secret that customer experience is the differentiator in many highly competitive industries, including retail and restaurants. But traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have been slow to adopt new technologies that would allow them to learn more about their customers, enabling a more personalized customer experience. According to Forrester's US 2017 Customer Experience Index, while increased customer experience yields greater revenue and drives loyalty (for starters), not one industry included in the report improved the customer experience (CX) this year.

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