As readers of this blog will know, technology is revolutionizing the Facilities Management space. In this post, we'll take a look at the top tech trends to watch for this year.
The Facilities Management industry has seen a significant technology led, modernization over the last few years. In 2017, we will continue to see greater automation, greater connection, and an increased impact on business in the wake of The Internet of Things. Here's what Facilities Managers can expect to plan for in 2017 and beyond.
1) The Internet of Things (IoT)
We've written a lot about The Internet of Things and how it will soon be commonplace in Facilities Management. In a nutshell, The IoT is the connection of digital data, objects, processes and people. This is not a trend that is going to pass anytime soon. In fact, it will only continue to grow as buildings continue to adapt to ever-changing employee/resident needs.
Since people can now perform so many tasks on their cell phones, from sending an email to using their phone as a remote to conducting banking transactions, they now expect their work and home spaces to be similarly interlinked with environmental control desired at the touch of a cell icon.
One area to look out for is LiFi, or Light Fidelity, which provides super-fast wireless network connectivity through LED lighting. With this comes the opportunity to incorporate devices with LiFi capability into a variety of LED environments and applications, including commercial, industrial and government facilities. One can incorporate LiFi into existing lighting systems, thereby expanding network coverage, complementing WiFi access (or in making WiFi access points redundant), minimizing infrastructure commitment, lowering the associated capital expense and ongoing operating costs, also reducing emissions and waste.
2) Ruggedized Devices
As Facilities Managers continue to become ever more reliant on their cell phones for work, there will be greater adoption of new mobile hardware technology, the ‘ruggedized device,' with new mobile device attachments such as thermal imaging cameras and tracking devices. Cell phone battery life is also (thankfully) improving, meaning Facilities Managers will soon be able to rely upon their phones as comfortably as their desktop devices.
3) Standardised Operational Data
Look forward to even more integration of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and other systems within a building. You can expect to see data across all applications to be standardised. This will drive the market forward in areas such as Automated Guided Vehicles, increasing productivity and workplace safety. System integration will allow better access to information, with intelligent workflows automating processes for high efficiency.
4) Location Based Services
Location-based services (LBS) are another part of the mobile evolution, and you can expect to see them entirely transforming Facilities Management. For example, a Facilities Manager responsible for multiple sites will have at his disposal an app that delivers an up-to-date inventory of supplies at each location. When a cell phone enters the site boundaries, the app would pull up a list of available materials, flag supplies that are insufficient and facilitate reordering.
5) Wearable Tech
No longer just for the fitness freak, wearables hold an enormous amount of potential to improve workplace safety, security access, and collaboration. They could also be key to supporting data collection in different physical work environments. A challenge will be to ensure that the wearable technology doesn’t cross any personal boundaries but makes the most of the overall work experience and helps drive efficiencies.
6) Even Bigger Data
Big data will soon become a necessary asset for companies in the Facilities Management sector, as it turns data into insight. Big data is used widely everyday in retail to make predictions about customers. Soon energy consumption in a hospital or business premises will be predicted and managed according to the weather, the time, or the day of the week. Individual employee daily facilities usage profiles could also be created to help model and employ your most effective workspace.
7) Talking Tech
Technology has developed to the point where user and machine interact using spoken or written language, for example, Apple's Siri. In the not too distant future, the world of Facilities Management could similarly deliver an increasingly intelligent contextual experience such as simple requests or questions such as “Stop!” or “can you open the door please?” with a simple result or answer.
However, there is potential for the interaction to become complex such as collecting workplace data from a large number of employees, resulting in highly detailed set of results for the creation of new and improved workplace plans or a printed 3D structure driving facilities decisions