With the rapid explosion of technology in recent years, companies have been forced to reexamine their facilities management solutions. Perhaps previously, they planned the organization of their facilities based on subjective opinions and hunches, they with the vast array of technological resources now at their fingertips, they can make more informed decisions.
Justin Segal, who works with analytics at Boxer Property, recently did an interview at the Realcomm summit in which he addressed the biggest challenges facing real estate companies today. Segal spoke extensively about the effects of technology in several areas.
Big data analytics
First off, Segal emphasized that the massive growth in the amount of available data has made it easier for companies to examine the way they run their facilities.
"It's really changed our attitude," he said. "What we look at in the organization are places where we can collect information not by having to do an extra level of collection, but by the native work people are doing. As they do whatever it is that they're doing, the data becomes tracked and available, and then we look at it mostly on an exception basis. What we're looking for are things that are outside of the norm."
The goal of big data analytics in facilities management is to allocate resources properly. Are heating and cooling tasks carried out efficiently? Are construction and relocation processes being handled in a timely process? Is tenant satisfaction consistent across multiple locations? Looking at large volumes of data can help companies answer all of these questions and more.
Real estate companies have also become reliant on tablets and smartphones for helping them complete tasks in a quick and efficient manner. Segal says this goes two ways - employees and tenants alike are interested in going mobile.
"For us, mobile is an issue both in front of the house and for our internal staff," Segal said. "We have our website and our ability to interact with tenants and we're very much focused on the mobile component of that, and we've noticed, like anyone else, that a huge portion of the tenants who are coming to our website are coming through mobile devices. At the same time, we've had a huge push for mobility within our own staff."
Segal notes that everyone in the company is asking for more mobile solutions to their business problems. His quality assurance director can use a tablet for recording information on properties he's inspected, and the maintenance staff can use smartphones for closing out orders and recording information. Everyone wants mobile devices, and they're demanding apps tailored specifically toward their everyday tasks.
There's also been a significant push toward ensuring a higher level of quality in the data firms are working with. Companies are working hard to reform their offices using data analytics, but if they can't first verify that their information is accurate, they're hamstrung in their innovative endeavors.
"Having a sophisticated approach to enterprise data, data management, data governance - so many things become possible after a company has conquered that challenge," Segal said. "It's not easy to do. It's taken us a couple of years to get there, but I think now we're seeing the nature of the problems we can accomplish. The rate of change and the rate of innovation is astounding because we've been able to get our data into clean shape."
Companies can revolutionize the way they maintain facilities by incorporating more technology into their operations. By performing more analytics, using more mobile devices and doing more to ensure data quality, they can pave the road to a better tomorrow. Here's more on how technology has changed the modern workplace.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.