The team within Vetasi are heavily engaged across the FM Industry through relationships, Association memberships and academic bodies all asking similar questions; ‘What does the future hold for the FM Industry’ and how will advances in technology impact our decisions.
Our observations and interactions have led us to draw the following key conclusions relative to this specific question:
- The need for FM Suppliers to manage multiple types of assets - buildings, Roads, Schools, housing etc.. From a technology standpoint this requires the ability to be able to handle these assets (e.g. Linear, spatial etc), something which traditional FM systems have typically never had to provide.
- Smarter Buildings & Asset Ownership Convergence - the need to manage assets that now 'overlap' - e.g.. Data Centers & traditional FM 'Hard Services'. This extends out to being able to draw together the measurement and provision of power, data, HVAC etc, with accurate cost/charging models relative to actual consumption.
- Property Owners demanding greater transparency – they are no longer happy to just "pay a monthly cost" and are insisting on great transparency of work provided and direct associated costs through detailed SLA which is now fundamental to FM Solutions
- Strategic mergers between "white collar" companies and FM Providers – more senior consultancy firms are engaging with Service Providers through JV’s to provide a more comprehensive offering to their clients.
- Systems now need to cater for expanded capabilities.
- Strategic Asset Management - more companies employing Asset Directors which is driving the need for much greater analytics as part of a decision support system rather than simple transaction tracking system.
- Shift away from contracting for maintenance and repair work to contracting for work within SLA's.
- Performance increasingly being measured on the availability or performance of assets e.g. instead of paying service providers for maintaining a lift/escalator and having penalties associated with SLA's, remuneration will be geared to having the lift available for 99.5% of the normal working hours. This involves a shift in risk from the owner to the service provider so takes the idea of outsourcing one stage further.
- Provision of real-time data - changes in status of work can be passed onto the client immediately e.g. if a fix to key assets has to be provided within 2 hours, notifying the customer 4 hours after a fix has been provided when the engineer returns to his depot can cause a breach of SLA. The challenge to technology is not just in providing a mobile capability for the field engineers but to provide a closed loop to the customer so that changes in status can be immediately passed back to the client. Another reason for providing real-time data is to enable call centres to prioritise work as and when emergencies arise to minimise impact on SLA's. This requires the ability to track location of engineers, priority of work and time to deploy.
- Lastly, although it might seem basic, one of the fundamental challenges is to enable contract managers to know where further value can be offered to clients to improve the chances of extending or renewing the contract. This requires detailed analytics, cost tracking and bench marking.
Quote from a recent 2010 Workplace futures event:
"...clients need a greater understanding of how service provision works; providers need a thorough understanding of how the client's business works..."