The face of facility management is changing as the Internet of Things (IoT) and related technologies needed to fully leverage it, are leading to further convergence, a breaking down of facility management system, building management system and building energy management system silos, an expansion of the possibilities of asset optimization and the integration of recent innovations in areas such as energy (e.g. microgrids).
We’ve previously covered how IP, the convergence of IT and OT and, obviously IoT as the platform for the future of smart buildings and the key gamechanger in 1) meeting the needs of building owners and facility managers and 2) delivering the expected customer experience and user experience of various types of more demanding building users are leading to new solutions (with the ‘type of experience’ depending on the scope of that building and user, e.g. workers in office buildings, guests in hotels, patient and staff in hospitals etc.)
For some the building management system is poised to become the integrated hub of more building management functions in an age of IoT, whereby all aspects (and data) regarding the building as a whole (the key holistic approach) get connected across various functions of building automation and controls, energy management and asset management, maintenance and optimization. Others see an increasing role for energy management systems or an entirely new form of facility management applications.
Regardless of what it will be: a holistic facility optimization approach with an IoT platform powering it is the future as written previously – from siloed systems of record, control and management to systems or connected services of facility optimization with multiple outcomes in mind and multiple facility management and related systems becoming part of one IoT ecosystem of applications, including the control and management dimension.
Facility optimization in the scope of changing demands and technologies
Facility optimization is probably the keyword in this converging movement towards a more integrated, unified and interoperable building and facility management environment that is poised to further evolve in the direction of IoT platforms for smart buildings.
Just as there is an increasing convergence in the scope of building management systems (BMS), the building energy management systems (BEMS), a.k.a. energy management systems (EMS) is obviously also going through significant changes as IT and OT converge and the IoT brings ample new opportunities, always keeping in mind those changing needs of building owners, facility managers, building users and so forth.
Hand in hand with regulatory evolutions and an ongoing demand to, among others,
- optimize energy efficiency and gain insights to build and integrate new energy solutions,
- optimize the usage of assets in all possible senses that make business and user sense,
- take ecology and green building initiatives (and obtain the related certifications),
- optimize the value of the building with value going beyond directly generate value,
- have a more holistic facility management approach,
- fully leverage building information in an easy way that at the same time encompasses various, traditionally siloed, functions,
- and far more,
building owners and facility managers want actionable data and they want one single environment. With IoT (and those related technologies) they also can get that single environment to manage, control and optimize pretty much all building functions and facility optimization areas.
Enter a few more keywords: data, seamless integration, ease of use, artificial intelligence and advanced Big Data analytics (we have to make sense of those data and use them to optimize but also to enable autonomous decisions and give building owners and facility managers that single environment) and all the rest that is needed in serious IoT-enabled environments (in several cases edge computing and, as we like to repeat, always cybersecurity).
The demand for and opportunity of unified facility management and optimization approaches
We’ve covered all these evolutions before in articles and interviews on the impact of IoT on the mentioned types of applications (BMS, EMS,….), in small and medium businesses and buildings, light and room control and critical power building environments.
Similar evolutions are obviously impacting other facility management software applications.
Although in several industries and areas of facility management and building management it’s still relatively early days when it boils down to IoT and more unified approaches, the forward-thinking vendors know where it’s all heading and act accordingly.
On the other hand, smart buildings and the increasing role of IoT in overall building and building energy management aren’t new. As we wrote before: as far as research firms such as IDC and many others is concerned, smart buildings are among the largest and fastest growing cross-industry IoT use cases for years to come and asset management, maintenance and optimization is close to the main use case of IoT in ample markets, including the smart manufacturing environment of Industry 4.0, the smart supply chain of Logistics 4.0 and far more cyber-physical areas of application.
Yet back to the convergence and changing needs in the scope of facility optimization and IoT.
Just as is the case in information management where silos still thrive (even in areas where silos should be done with by now in the scope of compliance with the EU GDPR level of personal data), systems which essentially all are information systems as well (think about PLC, SCADA systems, manufacturing execution systems and ERP in a factory context, for example), across all areas of industry are changing and converging with some simply poised to become part of more comprehensive ones, driven by IoT – and ultimately disappear as separate categories, becoming nothing more than components, modules and part of new solutions, whereby we, among others, have the rise of Intelligent ERP in mind.
And, just as is the case with those just mentioned systems in a manufacturing context, systems for facility management and facility optimization are de facto often still siloed too, again with some vendors seeing where it is all heading, connecting the dots and moving towards an IoT-enabled integrated approach, adapted to a reality of as-a-service evolutions.
And where is it all heading? Convergence and thus, by definition, a bright future for systems that enable to remove those silos. It is so in information management where we now speak about intelligent information management (instead of the eternal smart) and it is so in ample other areas.
Yet, removing silos alone isn’t enough. The focus needs to be on the value and holistic perspective of the building and the various stakeholders and users with a single view and easy to use intelligence hubs building owners and facility managers want.
At the center of it all: new ways to create value beyond traditional efficiency goals, king customer and the facility user, the end-to-end view, ever more convergence and the data, turned into action using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics, to enable it and optimize asset performance and integrate ever more IoT-enabled innovations in the energy and building space to optimize each aspect for each stakeholder across each building function.
We can’t repeat it enough: building owners and facility managers simply want to fully leverage the data they know they can have in order to create value, whether it’s by direct savings and efficiencies or indirect value generators such as the mentioned customer experience, level of comfort or productivity of the building’s user and far more.
This inevitably will continue to reshape the face of facility management and add an entirely new dimension to facility optimization in the traditional sense as ever more asset optimization possibilities are added on top of it all. And that has an impact on the solutions facility managers seek and the way the market continues to evolve.
Top image: Shutterstock – Copyright: Alfa Photo – All other images are the property of their respective mentioned owners.