Humanity thrive inside buildings. To put it in perspective, buildings of the world contribute to 40% of all energy use, consume 70% electricity and emit 40% greenhouse gases. About 87% of an average American’s life is spent indoors. This would make it clear that any increase in efficiencies and improvement in control of facilities would result in huge savings, and be beneficial to the whole world.
Facilities management as a discipline has made several leaps since the information revolution dawned, especially with sensor data of various kinds helping us gauge the health of our buildings. “What is measured, gets managed,” said management guru Peter Drucker. Only with sharp tools of measurement can we effectively run a system, especially such as our buildings.
Increasing complexities in managing portfolio of buildings
Despite automation seeping into every level of building facilities today, facilities managers have to deal with the persistent nightmare of managing a multitude of buildings spread across different geographies, in varying sizes and complexities.
Buildings are nowadays asset-heavy ecosystems with context-deprived workforce running around to fix issues rather than proactively trying to prevent issues. Data may be available in large buckets, but they are in silos, aren’t real-time, and cannot be controlled from a centralized standpoint. Inefficient teams and poorly-controlled systems replete with operational blind spots result in a persistent problem of excessive operating expenditure.
Who will bell the cat?
Data is useless when it is dumped alone, lacking context and perspective. Building sensor data, fed in by a mixture of modern, as well as legacy systems continue to reside in silos. These data streams created by hardware-centric systems provide limited information that compels technicians to firefight issues rather than proactively attend to it. That requires a context-aware maintenance management software that integrates in real-time with building automation and energy control systems.
For building owners, this means portfolio-wide visibility into building operations from a clear vantage point that helps owners observe and control their assets, energy, and workforce with ease. Only when a system helps reimagine myriad data streams into one stream of consciousness in real time, can we make great leaps from the existing way of running our facilities.
Connected technology makes owners the new big bosses
The aforementioned problems can be solved by bringing in a modern, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) -based enterprise application. An application that brings various data feeds from both modern and legacy systems through IoT on to a single dashboard that can empower owners like never before. They can now be in complete charge of their buildings, and call the shots from wherever they are. No more chasing people, or toggling between different screens and system interfaces.
Single platform to manage assets, facilities and workforce in real-time from a central dashboard increases efficiencies and makes our buildings sustainable in the long run. Not to mention the increased asset valuations that such controls bring in during any stage of the building ownership. Such a platform can serve as the spinal cord of buildings, fed by various nerve centres. Further, machine learning algorithms, when integrated into such a system, continuously learns about how things work in the building, and notches up the artificial intelligence that helps better board-room decisions.
You are as good as your team is
A SaaS-based building facilities management software helps in predictive, and proactive maintenance, bringing down costs substantially. Further, machine learning and analytics contribute to high efficiencies, lesser turnaround time during breakdowns, and as a result, a greater user experience. When all work is managed centrally, individual facilities personnel can be directed better. Empowering them with equipment and personalised mobile apps that feed them all the relevant data pertaining to their area of operation helps them identify problems sooner, and fix them faster.
How many hands do we need to fix a light bulb?
Workforce efficiency helps do more with less, and bring down operating costs. On-the-move actionable intelligence helps facilities workers manage their time better, in a stress-free environment. Predictable maintenance reduces unexpected breakdowns, rising the quality of life for personnel, and to the occupants alike. Green building certifications would also be a cakewalk for owners, and auditors. When technology-enabled sustainability becomes an everyday habit, the future would sure bring in revolutionary changes in the way we live and work.
Prabhu Ramachandran is CEO, Facilio
Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).