Every day we're hearing about a new tech advancement set to "change things". While it's clear we are living in the age of acceleration, what does this mean for workplace leaders who are trying to prepare their workforce for the rapidly changing world of work? I sat down with two strategic thinkers to discuss how facilities managers can position themselves and their companies to excel in the years to come.
How AI Is Impacting Our World of Facilities Management, CRE and Workplace Innovation
Katie King | Board Advisor, published author and speaker on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital transformation.
"For successful AI you need small proofs of concept. You need teams like HR, C-suite representatives, marketing, CX people to work together on more projects. Get some results, show some ROI and then begin to roll that our across your organization.
Katie has actually written the book on Artificial Intelligence and its relationship with all industries, including its impact on the built environment. She sees a particularly significant change looming for facilities operations and in the way workplace professionals will acquire information from the space, such as occupancy rates and enhancing the human interactions within a building.
She also believes AI will take it a step beyond providing predictive analytics and will have the potential for personalizing an experience for each employee or customer by enhancing their environment based on their preferences when they walk into a space. Everything from air conditioning to light settings will be set to their choosing, similar to how cars have various driver settings based on who unlocks the vehicle.
Katie explains the term "the AI paradox", which is defined by the idea that everyone is fearful and worried that AI is going to lessen the engagement we have at work, de-personalize our experiences and take away jobs. She believes, however, if used properly it can actually be something that will free us up from many routine tasks so we can focus our time on doing what humans are best at, solving problems and making connections. Technology won't be able to replace the strengths that people bring to the workplace, it will only free them from those daily mundane tasks so communication and strategic thinking can have a chance to shine through.
From the Army to The Smithsonian - Military Leaders & IFMA Connections Deliver FM Success
Scottie Benjamin | Building Manager for the National Museum of American History of Smithsonian Institution
"One of my major roles as a leader was to take care and look out for the welfare of our troops, and sitting down, talking with them about their needs. So I do the same thing here. I use a little different approach - I can't be quite as direct as I was able to do in the military, but it's pretty much the same thing."
As a US Army Veteran who transitioned to a career in FM, Scottie confirms that his military service was an ideal background that provided valuable experience for his future in facilities management. No stranger to change, he has seen first hand the impact technology can have on an industry, and believes we can learn so much from it and each other. He actually credits some of his IFMA connections for helping him navigate new technologies and identifying the best solutions for preserving items at the museum.
Scottie mentions not all tech advancements are positive, for example organizations won't need as many techs to complete jobs, and that so much of what we do now is going to be automated. However, in terms of staying relevant, he believes workplace managers should focus on adopting and learning about the technology coming their way, which will give them a leg up against others who are resistant to accepting change.
He also believes the best companies out there are actually helping to train their workforce for the future. When Scottie first started with the Smithsonian, he was so impressed by the development training programs and mentor pairings that were available to all employees. He thinks that companies need to understand that investing in employees is an investment in the organization, and by helping prepare them for the future, you're also preparing your company to succeed in the days to come.