Connectivity in buildings will increase over 410 percent by 2020 through the use of smart building technology, according to CBRE. But even with access to leading technology, the majority of facility managers are struggling to see a return on their investments.
Building owners are driven to achieve higher returns, advance sustainability programs, enhance the occupant experience, and comply with more progressive building codes. But the facilities management industry has been slow to adapt to, and adopt, these new technological trends. Buildings will continue to get more and more complex through smart building connectivity and integrations with data collection software, but what can facility managers do to reap the benefits?
To answer this question, Enovity, a Veolia company, recently surveyed 100 energy and facilities executives in the United States on the topic of technology adoption in facility management (FM). The findings are published in a 2018 Facility Management Benchmark Survey: Realizing Value from Investments in FM Technology. Below are three key obstacles that stand between facility management teams and their expected returns.
Implementing a Strategy
Key findings showed that only 30 percent of respondents are succeeding in realizing the value from their investment in technology. The other 70 percent have either seen mixed results or none at all in their attempts to integrate technology into their operations.
One of the key differences between the two groups is a strategic approach when it comes to implementation, which is reflected in how FM teams set goals for technology use. While most respondents identified operating cost savings as their key objective, leaders were 27 percent more likely to focus on energy efficiency and 23 percent more likely to focus on cybersecurity as well. This lack of a strategic approach has wide-ranging consequences, including reduced ability to get funding approval and related challenges with user adoption and data silos discussed below.
Stronger User Adoption
User adoption is a challenge for many types of technology deployments and is not limited to the facility management profession. Transitioning away from paper-based maintenance forms and logs to utilizing a computerized maintenance management and/or facility management system is a common challenge. Notably, this challenge is not unique to any particular segment of respondents: 67 percent of leaders identified user adoption as a “significant” or “very significant” challenge to their success.
However, one area where leaders do stand out in the findings is when they have gained momentum by starting small with a limited pilot or a single-site deployment to prove results. “We focus on installing low-risk and proven technologies such as LED lighting,” a facility director at a chemicals firm said. “This is a critical step to build trust before proposing the large-scale or transformational programs.”
Avoiding Data Silos
Data silos are cited by 80 percent of survey respondents as the most significant challenge to success with FM technology. Any organization that operates multiple facilities—or has held facility assets for long enough to experience multiple cycles of capital upgrades—is likely to accumulate a mixture of technologies and systems that may not work in tandem or communicate with each other. This can lead to gaps or blind spots for the facilities leader who is responsible for a portfolio of sites.
Overcoming the siloed data hurdle is a goal shared by technology leaders, opportunists and stragglers. This suggests that targeted system integration projects could unlock substantial added value, even for FM teams that are already seeing positive returns from one or more technology implementations.
While FM teams still have a long way to go in realizing the full value of technology solutions, survey respondents are seeing signs of progress. Although organizations face a variety of challenges depending on their level of FM experience and resources, teams that develop a clear strategy, engage users to encourage adoption and break down data silos have been able to achieve the best results.
Learn more about the steps FM teams can take to see the most value from implementing technology and how they can improve on their returns in the white paper Realizing Value from Investments in FM Technology.