Facilities Management in 2025 - Technology Disruption in FM

As we glance forward to the technologies impacting the world of Facilities Management and the 2025 Smart Buildings initiative, we are reminded constantly of new advances in disruptive technology and are urged to prepare for the new ways of working surrounded by these new Smarter Working Environments.


But the reality of the situation is that many of these technologies are already here, and the 2025 Smart Buildings Initiative date is only a few years away. Facilities professionals are already dealing with the daily challenges they bring. We should not just be anticipating and preparing for future disruptive technologies, but understanding what is available now, what benefits and challenges they will bring to our business, and - where appropriate - defining an adoption process for embedding these technologies into our working environments.



So what Technology is out there right now?

As MASS have engaged in an active push for new business over the last 18 months, we have had several conversations with some exciting and forward-thinking companies, who are quite often in the process of commissioning a brand new building with Smart infrastructure. This has piqued the interest of many MASS employees and led to a series of discussions on the technology available to us today. Here are some of the innovations MASS have discussed with customers over the last 18 months…


Self-Alerting Assets/Systems -

Critical Equipment with inbuild intelligence systems to alert Facilities at the point of fault or issue. Imagine the decrease in downtime and maintenance costs if this could be implemented for all major assets?


Facial recognition -

Already widely available in phone and tablet technology, facial recognition within the Facilities environment could be utilised for maintenance processes, contractor access, and onsite security or permit to work replacements, or even down to recognising the CEO in a lift and automatically taking him to his (presumably) penthouse corner office!



 Photo Credit


Wearable Tech -

The natural next step in smartphone and tablet technology. Wearable technology in the form of watches, headsets and Virtual Reality glasses would further reduce paper wastage and even forgo the need for storage of digital documents on devices. Imagine a PPM procedure whereby the engineer could visualise the issue before attending site and have instant access to all operating manuals at the blink of an eye.


Wayfinding and Indoor GPS -

going beyond GIS integration and simply pinpointing a location on a map, the provision of real-time wayfinding and live GPS location embedded into FM processes would be extremely advantageous. New contractors on site for the first time could be given direct wayfinding to their work location. Security personnel could monitor real-time locations of external contractors to improve H&S compliance. Live tracking of mobile assets, such as hospital beds, for real-time analysis of Porters and Patient movement. This is a technology some of our customers are already embracing, and it would be great to see this become more widespread.


Drones and Point Cloud Surveys -

Laser Scanning has been around for years but adding drone scans into the mix is opening a new, quicker scanning methodology, particularly for larger open and external spaces. Additionally, drones with HD cameras can be used to evaluate faults and issues in those hard-to-reach areas, reducing the cost and risk of maintenance, and improving first-time fix rates. What about drones transporting tools and parts from stores to trade staff on site?

 Photo Credit

Robotics -

Again, already in place in some organisations. How soon until all ‘routine’ tasks like leaf sweeping, vacuuming, window washing, and grass cutting are completed by robotics and smart machines?

Photo Credit - Amazon Warehouse Robots



Is there a balance to be had?

Implementing the infrastructure required for adopting new technologies is commonly associated with new builds and retrofits. In these instances, new technology can be thoroughly researched, and the benefits identified as part of a larger project. But how do you apply new technology to an ageing or complex existing environment? It may be that the benefits of a new technology in this type of environment are significantly outweighed by the cost and disruption of implementing the solution. The need for tangible benefits of implementing new technology and infrastructure must always outweigh the negatives.


Technology needs to be of benefit to the organisation and its occupants, providing meaningful data and efficiencies and improved user experience, not just technology for technologies sake.


To quote a phrase from the legendary Jeff Goldblum in the 1993 epic Jurassic Park, when considering smart technology people are often:

“so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should”


Before considering connected devices, smart infrastructure or new technologies, an organisation must ask the key question of “what is the business benefit”? The answer to this question will often dictate whether the adoption of a new technology should be encouraged by an organisation...or avoided.


The benefits of big data and disruptive technology are often mis-sold as a one-size-fits-all solution. The benefits of these innovations will vary significantly between industry, property and location. Therefore, I would stress and remind our customers that:


1)      Soon all data will be Big Data, as nowadays we are collecting so much of it.

2)      You should be wary of vanity statistics; the practice of collecting and analysing data purely because it is available with no tangible benefit should be discouraged.


So be wary when those Sales Representatives come calling selling you the Big Data Dream!



Challenges you may face                                                                                                                                            Photo Credit

As previously mentioned, we generally find that new builds seem to be on the pulse when it comes to implementing new technologies. The challenge most of our customers will face is applying smart building technology to existing infrastructure. We have had very similar conversations for the last few years regarding BIM adoption - “Do we map our existing buildings in BIM”?


I feel the answer to that query will also be the same answer to the question of which technologies to adopt. If there is a business benefit in it, with tangible improvements and efficiencies, then it could and should be considered. There is likely to be a significant financial overhead to major changes to existing infrastructure, and so along with business/operational benefits, a financial return on investment should also be a driver for adopting these changes.


Steps to Take…

Ultimately, every organisation will have their own take on the Smart Building Initiative and disruptive technologies available, their own pros and cons list, their own priorities and views. The advice for anyone looking to make changes was surmised fantastically by David Mudd of BSI speaking at the FM Excel Exhibition in June this year:


“Think Big, Start Small, Act Now”


To adopt any changes in line with a Smart Building initiative, or the adoption of a new disruptive technology, you need a strategy and approach. This starts with an awareness of technologies out there, and a very real look at the tangible benefits it will provide your organisation. Soon, the smart environment in which we work and live will become as second nature to us as having readily available Wi-Fi is now, but to get there, we need a measured and process driven approach, as opposed to a scatter-gun approach of technology adoption.


2025 is not some distant date in the future; it is our immediate and short-term future, and one which we need to be best prepared for. Thinking big, starting small, and acting now will ensure that you avoid the pitfalls and achieve your goals for a Smarter Working Environment.



If you have any questions on this topic then please don't hesitate to contact the team at MASS for more information. ow to put together a good project plan. We are available on 0118 977 8560 or email us at news@mass-plc.com


If there are any other topics you would like us to cover in our blogs please let us know.

Paul Munro


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