Big Data in Facilities Management

If we are to believe the Facilities Management (FM) media, the Internet of Things and Big Data are about to transform the industry. Technology developments and their potential for radical change often provides an exciting subject for articles, conferences and webinars. Closer inspection and looking to the evidence of successful Big Data projects leads me to believe that such claims are over-hyped by the major IT suppliers. A 2015 report by PwC points to an alarming failure rate for Big Data projects.

The study outlines problems arising from poor data management and a severe lack of skills in data science. If organisations are unsure about what data they already hold and are unable or unwilling to invest in detailed data management, how much more of a problem will it be to gain benefit from the petabytes of additional raw data being processed to yield meaningful business insights? If transformation of FM service delivery is going to happen through Big Data it is certainly not going happen anytime soon, or indeed very quickly.

The transformation that needs to take place cannot be cut short by technology alone; it requires organisations to do some heavy lifting. Without clear unambiguous statements of how the client’s business units are to be managed in the future, it is worthless inventing performance goals and metrics and identifying new sources of data. Rather than investing now in Big Data projects in the hope that something useful will emerge, Facilities Management managers are best advised to work closely with their business clients, suppliers and internal IT, HR and CRE colleagues to identify those performance measures that best support the enterprise’s business goals and strategies. A logical process to determining performance measures rather than brainstorming uses for data we can collect should be the mantra.

Facilities Management professionals would be best advised to begin with:

  1. Setting up a small team of senior internal staff, who are respected by the business lines, and get to understand exactly what is meant by the declared (and the unpublished!), strategic business statements.
  2. Working with their IT, HR and CRE colleagues, establish a coherent and consistent set of measures that map onto those clear business strategies.
  3. Then, and only then, seek to identify the sources of data that are required, their owners, format and detailed descriptions.

Achieving that degree of definition will be tough enough and for many organisations involve breaking through the silos of data and organisation. Gaining that level of understanding will greatly enhance the successful use of Big Data and set the business case for the substantial investment necessary to implement the technology.

There is no short cut, transitions are often painful but success very rewarding. Further guidance upon best practices in Performance Management may be found in the Workplace Management Framework.

If your organisation is planning to make the step change towards a better workplace, then AWA have the workplace transformation expertise your organisation requires. Call us now on +44 207 743 7110 to find out more or email with your inquiry. Advanced Workplace Associates are based in London, United Kingdom (UK) but now work internationally across the United States of America (USA), Asia and Europe.

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