Conference of the Future
07 December 2007
There is no shortage of conferences and seminars targeted at people working in the FM and property services sectors. But - despite the occasional promise - none of these has so far successfully focused on the future. That is about to change as Elliott Chase explains.
WHAT DOES THE NEAR TO MID-TERM HOLD for property and facilities professionals and what should they be thinking about and doing now to be best prepared for the requirements, challenges and opportunities of the next five years?
If there is one thing we know about this business it is that change is a constant. That makes future-casting difficult but it also makes it that much more important to use experience and specialised knowledge to look forward in order to inform and shape current plans and actions.
Acutely aware of this need, the Facilities Management Association, PFM and online news and market information service i-FM have come together to provide a solution. Over the past several months, the three partners - backed by sponsors HSS and Johnson FM - have conceived and built a new conference opportunity that is unique in two critical ways.
First, the programme is tightly focused on the needs and interests of facilities and property professionals, as well as business managers with responsibilities in these areas.
The Workplace Futures Conference will address the critical issues facing the industry, both now and in the run-up to 2012. The futureshaping topics on the agenda include:
....The global issue of climate change, environmental impact and what this means in the UK, including UK plc's ability to become sustainable and simultaneously remain competitive.
....The growing pressure on the workplace environment as both costs and mobility increase, bringing new strategic opportunities - and risks - into the picture.
....The urgent need to reduce energy consumption and improve the management of all resources, especially in existing property stock.
....The traditional tender process for new contracts is costly and often an unsatisfactory experience for both client and provider. New approaches to procurement that better meet the needs of both sides.
....The convergence of property services and FM is the way forward for many organisations - but who will shape the solution: buyers or sellers?
The panel of speakers - all acknowledged experts in their fields - has been selected for their skill in spotting trends and ability in advising on how to prepare for coming challenges. And, critically, each speaker has been briefed to look forward five years in order to advise delegates on what they should consider doing now to be best prepared for the issues on (or just over) the horizon.
The Workplace Futures programme is unique - but so are the ways in which the content will be delivered.
This event will be truly interactive - a first for the industry. Delegates can participate on the day in two ways:
....by joining at the London Stock Exchange on 17 January to network, listen, discuss and vote interactively with hand-held devices;
....or, by joining in virtually from any location to participate online.
We believe this is an important event, offering considerable benefit for participants, and we want the entire industry to be able to gain the advantage of that. Of course, not everyone can get out of the office or into London for the day, and that is why Workplace Futures will offer a virtual alternative to physical presence. The conference will be broadcast to the internet via a satellite link from the Stock Exchange.
Organisations can sign up for access to the realtime webcast of the entire event, making any number of conference sessions available to as many of their staff as appropriate. The programme will be delivered on a Windows Media platform, ensuring coverage of both speakers and their Powerpoint presentations.
Virtual participation will also be interactive participation: in addition to watching and listening to the proceedings, these delegates can ask questions and offer views via their PCs, as well as joining in the votes on the planned straw polls.
Finally, if the 17th just doesn't work for any delegate, the full content of the conference will be archived and made available on the internet for access later.
Free for all
Internet technology also offers the opportunity to open the final session of the day to anyone who has web access - at no cost. To ensure the greatest diversity of views and discussion on the key issues of the day, this wrap-up session will be made freely available to everyone in the industry. To gain access to this free final session, participants simply need to register in advance on the Workplace Futures website. They will then be emailed early in January with the access link.
The conference programme is targeted at business leaders, decision makers and decision influencers, as well as those responsible for business development or strategic growth in their organisations. Property managers, building services engineers, FM providers and in-house professionals will all gain real insight into both current and emerging issues and challenges in a rapidly changing business-critical arena: the workplace.
Nigel Hambly Director of Asset Factor Infrastructure Services and chairman of the Workplace Futures event, highlights three big issues facing the industry as we look forward to 2008.
"My first concern," he says, "is the unstoppable crusade of our government and other bodies to promote a greener future regardless of the readiness and financial ability of companies (clients and suppliers) to meet further legislative changes. We need to have a clearer understanding of the practical and financial implications of meeting these challenges and determine how our industry can take a lead role in providing pragmatic and cost-effective advice to benefit building users."
Hambly continues: "I believe there is also a growing need to converge estate management and traditional FM support services so that these can, once conjoined, underpin occupancy costs, risk and asset lifecycle costs through smart financial frameworks."
As conference chairman, Nigel Hambly has a clear ambition: "We need to bring all these strands together and facilitate a strong debate with the target objective of identifying a positive strategy for the industry, clear of all parochial commercial interests. Such a strategy, if it can be achieved, would elevate our industry to the
status of other professions."
With content, speakers, access and ambitions like this, Workplace Futures is as close to a 'must' as anything FM in the UK has ever seen.
Chris Davies, CEO of sponsors, HSS says "We are thrilled to be involved with such an exciting and innovative event and see it as a superb opportunity to share knowledge and best practice. The Workplace Futures Conference recognises our role as a logistical and technical partner for FMs. Our decision to be the Online Sponsor was fuelled by our recent recognition from Hitwise of the success of our website www.hss.com, which is enjoying record traffic. As we pride ourselves on being easy to transact with, we are justifiably proud of our use of the online channel and so we are keen to promote the Internet as a vital tool in the FM business. We look forward to engaging in the debate on January 17th 2008."
....Elliott Chase is editor of www.i-fm.net
Link: Workplace Futures