Digital Disruption in Facilities Management

To those that aren’t aware of the term ‘digital disruption’, it may appear to have negative connotations and one may be led to presume that Facilities Management (FM) would suffer as a result of the rise of ‘new digital technologies’. Here, we will analyse the implications that have arisen due to the dynamic changes occurring within technological advancement in the world today.

A Shift In Expectations

With the advent of the digital age, the task of FM is becoming a continuously challenging one to fulfill. Advancements in digital technology are raising questions about the continued relevance of the classical, centralized workplace and the structures that house them. Increased mobility and connectivity, paired with a demand for improved productivity, environmental and financial sustainability, as well as a desired optimization regarding ROI, is transforming the way the workplace is managed. The consequences for FM are substantial.

The Increasing Speed Of Technological Innovation

As we have evolved, so has the technology we use. Technological disruptions are occurring at increasingly fast rates. Consequently, the way we think and behave has similarly undergone changes. We expect more – the digital revolution we are experiencing is changing the world in which we live. The rate in which we now produce, collect and analyse data4, is increasing exponentially. Our expectations surrounding technological capabilities have become more and more demanding.

It has become the norm to expect to be able to communicate with whomever we want, wherever we may be with high quality connections and insignificant financial expenses. The same expectations are held in regards to the access of information. As the efficiency of technology increases, so do the expectations felt by customers, regarding the medium by which they are contacted. Lengthy emails and drawn out phone calls no longer seem satisfactory. The days of waiting on hold, listening to Mozart’s 5th on repeat, are over.

An Opportunity For Progressive Change

Due to the huge levels of data that the collective digital community is creating, new enterprises and markets are establishing themselves. FM is experiencing new technological advances, including asset management and maintenance systems, building information systems, instant mobile and communication systems, and vehicle and asset tracking. Advanced technology is no longer a rare commodity. Its abundance and relatively low cost means that instead of damaging FM services, it has become a vehicle for progressive change.

Already existing processes have the opportunity to become more efficient. In an era where there is an ‘app’ for every need, FM leaders must asses how best to add value to their processes. It may not necessarily be a matter of simply installing faster and cheaper services. An in-depth look into levels of interconnectivity and data analysis may be required for a paradigm shift to occur, regarding what services are used. Especially as new, technologically aware generations, who will have a keen understanding of connectivity and mobility, come to take their place in the world. Simply having access to the available technology does not necessarily mean that it will create an advantage. As Jonathan Sacks stated, “thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world but it still doesn’t help us know what to say.”3

The continual flow of technology is unavoidable and sometimes an intimidating prospect. However, it also has the potential to inspire innovation and progressive moves forward. Advances in technologies are now available to a much wider range of people, including providers and end users. Ultimately, the combined digital activity of the world is responsible for the creation of original markets and exciting new services. It will be the place of FM, to ensure that digital disruption is levered in the correct way, resulting in enhanced customer experience that drives an increase in value.