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Data at the heart of FM revolution

Author : Nicola Lovett, divisional CEO of Business Energy & Services at ENGIE

21 November 2018

Technology and digitalisation are set to transform the FM market, just as they have for many other sectors, in a world where data is becoming the most valuable commodity, says Nicola Lovett.

She examines what the future might hold for FM providers willing to embrace the new opportunities. The facilities management marketplace is changing fast.

The sector as we have known it for many years is likely to look very different in the future. Today, FM companies are facing an increasingly mature market.

The big question is: how can they survive in such a commoditised, cost-focused environment?

The answer is: they need to adapt. Advances in technology are one of the greatest threats to the traditional facilities management approach, but also one of the greatest opportunities for innovation in the sector.

Businesses today are looking for more transparent, innovative FM solutions, and for providers that can adapt quickly to business and technology changes.

They want providers that can help them meet their regulatory requirements, but with the flexibility to provide personalised services that are tailored to their working environments.

They also want to do this with providers that can use smart technology to offer on-demand FM services, rather than the routine, diarised FM provision of the past.

Transition to ‘data as a service’ solutions

As well as FM costs, most businesses face property costs, energy cost and people costs – all of which are being impacted by technology. All of these costs are interrelated and interact with each other.

Smart technology and analytics are helping to bring these cost elements together. As a result, the traditional integrated FM model is transforming into an integrated ‘data’ model.

Data is at the heart of this new world – in the case of FM, it is data on the condition and performance of building assets, on building utilisation, on energy consumption, on environmental conditions, and much more.

To lead the way in the future FM market, ENGIE recognises that we need to develop what might be described as ‘data as a service’ offers.

That means installing, monitoring and managing the technology and systems that gather and analyse data from building assets, plant and equipment. This data can drive most business-critical interventions, alerting engineers and technicians to plant and machinery that requires servicing, upgrading or replacing.

Accurate data analysis will enable maintenance interventions to be timed to prevent breakdowns before they occur, identifying assets that require attention and preventing wasted time and effort maintaining machinery that is performing well.

This data-focused approach will help to maximise asset lifecycle and reduce energy consumption, as well as support informed decision-making on capital replacement programmes and even major property decisions such as disposals, acquisitions and refurbishments.

On-demand approach to FM delivery

Such an approach to FM delivery represents a huge shift away from current scheduled service delivery contracts.

Instead of paying an annual fee for ongoing maintenance that simply follows asset manufacturers’ guidelines, businesses will be able to subscribe to an on-demand style service which guarantees to keep essential building assets working efficiently and effectively for the long-term.

Through precisely targeted interventions, FM providers will help to extend asset lifecycles and ultimately save time, resources and cost for the customer. The whole service will be driven by data gathered by smart building systems.

This vision for on-demand FM or ‘data as a service’ provision, may seem a long way down the road, but ENGIE is already trialling an FM On-Demand service in France.

Smart building systems lead the way

Smart building technology is now becoming established in the FM sector, and can be a key tool for facilities managers.

But maximising the benefits of the data and insights provided by this technology requires a joined up approach that combines both facilities and energy management.

Building on our FM expertise, ENGIE has been using smart building technologies and data analysis tools to help improve energy management for a number of years.

It’s part of a whole package of services we can offer to help customers better manage their energy consumption, encompassing energy supply, power purchase arrangements, demand-side services, embedded generation, battery storage and much more.

Essentially, we can provide ‘energy as a service’ to customers, rather than simply energy as a commodity to be procured at the lowest possible price.

So ENGIE has the skills and capabilities to deliver technology-driven efficiencies across both energy and facilities management – and customers are already seeing the value of this joined-up approach.

One example is the recent extension of our long-standing FM contract with accountancy firm, Grant Thornton.

Through our ENGIE Assure programme, we guarantee them a minimum 5% reduction in energy costs each year. We achieve this by combining our energy and FM expertise through smart remote-monitoring technologies to implement a comprehensive range of energy-efficiency and facilities optimisation measures.

It’s a great example of our unique combination of expertise being applied to deliver tangible, long-term benefits for a client.

Pioneering new service models

By 2020 we expect a redefinition of service provision in the FM sector, with the development of more sustainable ‘partnership’ models between customers and service providers.

Our distinctive approach, combining our expertise in FM and energy, is enabling us to pioneer these new service models, challenge conventions and lead the way into a more technology-driven future for the FM market.

Nicola Lovett is divisional CEO of Business Energy & Services at ENGIE

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