Migrating from Costly Requirement to C-suite

I meet with a lot of people whose titles include “Facilities Management,” but to be honest, I don’t know why anyone still calls it that.

The term facilities management is passive and reflective of when FM used to be centered around reacting to breakdowns, failures, and other issues. Today’s FM environment isn’t wholly preventive or proactive, nor will it ever be; however, with the advent of intelligent devices, and data feeds from a variety of in-building assets such as HVAC systems and smart lighting, the world of building maintenance and operations is long removed from the days of purely reacting to maintain a norm.

Today’s Facilities Managers are leveraging new data sources for insights to manage their properties with increased intelligence. I met a Chief Engineer who built his own predictive life expectancy models using data from HVAC performance, the number of repairs, etc. and the models were so accurate that they predicted the need for replacement to within six months of actual failure and he was able to budget his capital expenditures accordingly.

That’s not an example of facilities management; it’s an example of smart building operations.

The roles of those in facilities management are expanding. Facilities management may have traditionally been viewed as a costly requirement, but, going forward, smart building operators with the right tools will alter the risk management, asset valuation, and asset acquisition/disposition equations for their buildings. This will extend their roles and their predictive insights will be very valuable for owners and C-suite executives.

When I meet people, one of my first questions is “What’s your smart building migration strategy and roadmap?” Many people don’t yet have these in place, so my follow up question is “Are you managing your building at a facilities level or a smart building level?”

The difference between the two is simple.

  • Buildings managed at a “facilities level” are those in which data is captured from various in-building assets but not fully integrated so new insights aren’t yet uncovered. Asset data is often siloed and could be from BMS systems, general building documents, work orders, IoT sensors, financial records, and data from external third parties.
  • Managing at the “smart building level” involves taking a holistic view of data, one in which all of a building’s critical information is captured in a single AI-backed platform where new relationships and insights into building performance can be discovered. These insights create actionable items for ongoing improvement.

Sensors, AI, and machine learning are ending the days of facilities management. In FM’s place is a future that alters strategic equations for asset owners and transforms the traditional facilities manager into an insights-driven smart building operator.

Are you managing your building as a facilities manager or a smart building operator?

Craig Wood is the Director of Business Development and Technology at Site 1001, a high performance building performance and operations software platform that uses core building information, building systems and sensor data in combination with artificial intelligence to put the “smart” in “smart buildings.

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