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When Facilities Management Goes Digital, Are We Ready?

Digital FM pic1Facilities Management (FM) is going digital. Digital technologies are changing the way we imagine, plan, develop, use, and manage facilities.  Countless organizations are pursuing Digital Transformation initiatives related to FM.

This development can be daunting for Facility Managers. The role of Facility Managers have stretched beyond providing workplaces and making sure that equipment and systems are operating safely and cost effectively. Digital has redefined the workplace and change how real estate and facilities are used.

A future focused workplace integrates the use of digital technologies in a friction free economy. With the evolving business model, Facility Managers are now being pushed to thrive outside their comfort zone.

Facilities Management (FM) in the Digital Age

Digital has redefined the workplace and change how real estate and facilities are used. Digital technologies have enabled friction-free processes and business models. Companies are now given the information to make data driven decisions about how to manage and use space.

Forward looking FM leaders have grasped the enormity of the opportunity and the challenges. To date, the shift to Digital Facilities Management involves taking on a more strategic role.

  • The entire FM business processes must be automated.
  • Data on activities and systems performance must be analyzed to inform better decision making.
  • Strategies and capabilities must be developed to facilitate adoption of digital processes and support digital work spaces.

Surviving a Friction-Free Economy

In 1996, Bill Gates coined the term “friction-free capitalism” in his book, The Road Ahead. The idea was then futuristic. Today, it has permeated every corner of the economy.

Gates has observed the transformative power of ubiquitous connectivity to the internet and its expanding access to data. After 20 years, digitization has taken friction-free business to a new level. Entirely new business models and operating models have emerged.

A friction-free economy calls for an expanded Facilities Management mindset and system approach

Friction-free Economy – Impact on FM

In the era of the friction-free economy, the shift to online processes and data-driven decision-making will require Facilities Management function to significantly expand its role. Digitization can make FM teams far better at their traditional work and help FM contribute more broadly to the company’s success.

  • Digital FM will allow FM teams to better anticipate and control maintenance costs and ensure facilities are functioning properly.
  • Digital FM will make FM teams better at aligning facilities with strategic priorities, controlling CRE costs and making sure facilities are accommodating all the workers and uses that the company requires.
  •  It can make FM a partner with top leadership in building flexible organizations that can compete in markets that move at the speed of digital information.

This journey will entail a dramatic rethinking of the FM function. A bit of stretching by FM leaders is required to make them move beyond their comfort zones.

The 4 Dimensions of Digital Facilities Management (FM)

As Facilities Management goes digital, it cuts across 4 dimensions.


1st Dimension: E2E Digital FM Services

All FM functions are either moved into digital systems or managed more efficiently using digital technologies. When functions and processes are digitized, almost any activity can be managed and optimized through benchmarking based on performance data.

E2E automated process can be used to manage maintenance and repair, improve energy management, and provided employee focused services.

2nd Dimension: Workplace Productivity & Retention

Keeping workers connected, engaged, and productive is an important priority for companies that are waging a war for talent. Working with FM to provide the right workplace experience can give companies an important strategic advantage.

With digital FM facilities, managers can advise tenants on the right facility services for an organization’s culture, by using benchmarking data from similar organizations.

3rd Dimension: Energy & Sustainability

Digital FM can also improve energy efficiency. Smart building technology has reduced energy use by using electronic controls to manage heating, cooling, and lighting.

With connected systems using machine to machine communications and sensors, Facilities Managers can take energy efficiency to another level.

4th Dimension: Regulations & Compliance

Digitization both simplifies and extend the compliance function of Facilities Management. The FM team is responsible for ensuring that what goes on in and around the building complies with government regulations and that all work is done in accordance with relevant fire, safety, and zoning codes.

It falls to management, CRE, and FM leaders to work together to make digital FM a reality. Yet, in the adoption of the digital FM, organizations are faced with technical and human factors that we need to hurdle.

The FM team needs to assess current capabilities and identify what is needed to build on those capabilities as FM goes digital. Transitioning to digital FM now calls for both executives and its organization to take strategic actions.

Interested in gaining more understanding on how to transition to Digital Facilities Management? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Digital Facilities Management here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Joseph Robinson

Joseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.

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