Half of FMs think business will be ‘negatively impacted’ without digital technologies

Nearly 1/2 of FMs believe that if they don't upgrade their digital tech and skills, their company may cease to exist within the next two years

Nearly half (45 per cent) of facilities managers believe that if they don’t upgrade their digital technologies and skills, their company may cease to exist within the next two years, according to new research from Watco. With surveys from 250 financial managers, the new report provides ground breaking insight on how digital information is transforming the FM industry.

According to the report, 72 per cent of FMs admit that their company is hesitant to adopt digital innovation, and 47 per cent say they have yet to embrace digital technologies at all.

The research points out that, although digital technology adoption may be slow, FMs are increasingly seeing the importance of its uptake. 18 per cent of respondents said that training and upskilling personnel in new technologies will be their top focus over the coming year and 20 per cent of FMs think there will be an increase in the application of technologies in the future.

“New technologies are transforming how we work and are helping to improve building performance, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. FMs who embrace these digital innovations will be better equipped to manage their buildings and operations in the years ahead,” Chris Budd, Watco UK Sales Director.

Current uptake of digital technologies

Digital technologies are steadily rising in popularity – and for good reason. Just over a third (33 per cent) of FMs said they are using customer portals and a quarter (21 per cent) said that customer portals will be the highest-impact tool in the next 12 months. Customer portals lend themselves to maintaining a ‘golden thread’ of maintenance information. This will become vital as the Building Safety Act comes into law in October of this year, ensuring that building owners are held to high safety standards.

Over a third of FMs reported already implementing digitised standards and specifications (36 per cent), digital connectivity and information sharing (35 per cent), and cloud storage (35 per cent). In the next two years, 55 per cent of FM’s also said they are considering introducing digital technologies for resource and management, thereby streamlining the process of scheduling and planning maintenance activates and monitoring facility performance in real time.

Moving forward with cloud and digital technologies

After surveying 250 facilities managers, there were 5 key technologies that FMs think will have the biggest impact on their role:

  1. Customer portals to maintain a digital ‘golden thread’ of information.
  2. Sensor technology (e.g. to understand temperature & air quality metrics),
  3. Robotics (e.g. for cleaning tasks).
  4. Resource and workforce management software.
  5. Internet of Things (IoT).

With 29 per cent of FMs saying that their workloads have increased in the past year, digital technologies serve as a key tool to improve workload efficiency, energy consumption, and a pathway to reduce operational costs.

Lisa O’Neill, Group Marketing Director at Watco, commented: “We know that facilities managers have always been busy, but over the last few years the balancing act has become even more challenging. So, while some businesses have been slow to embrace new tech, it is great to see that facilities managers have recognised where the adoption of new technologies could benefit their business and are planning to upskill their teams accordingly.

“On top of this, it is brilliant to see that FMs are not only looking to increase efficiencies in the workplace, but that the health and safety of users is also being considered as one of the core reasons why new technologies should be implemented.”

The full Watco report can be seen here.

Priva UK welcomes conversations and questions from any FM company (or in-house facilities department) that is looking for new solutions for building energy management. Priva’s Digital Services, for example, are widely adopted by FMs across Europe – enabling easier management of building energy performance as well as access to energy data.

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