Thought leadership talk by Bart Holsters on the future of the FM service stack
If anything that’s becoming clear differentiation for the new age facility management companies specifically in recent times is none other than how they manage their technology stack. Building, maintaining, and scaling this stack to meet client needs has emerged as a vital determinant of success. As performance-based contracts tighten competition and operational costs demand reduction, an efficient tech stack has become indispensable for facility management teams to bring the best of them. Let's delve into the strategies for crafting an ideal tech stack as discussed by Bart F. Holsters, GM Engie, in his thought leadership talk on the future of FM.
Understanding the Tech Stack Essentials
Creating a strong foundation for the service delivery stack is paramount. The process begins with comprehending client pain points and harnessing both internal and external capabilities to craft tailored solutions. Subsequently, the application/software should be standardized according to demographic and competitive market conditions. Continuous experimentation involving combinations of partnerships and in-house application development further refines the tech stack.
Well, that was sounding too theoretical so decided to invite someone who has done it before and understand his thoughts on building an ideal tech stack for the future of FM.
Here are the key takeaways from the discussion Umesh Bhutoria Founder, CEO Xempla had with Bart F. Holsters, GM Engie at the RE.connect virtual event.
Key Takeaways from the Discussion
Clarity of Intent in Technology Adoption
Bart started the discussion by questioning people’s intent for adopting technological innovations such as big data, AI and MI in that case. He also stressed on the part that people should be very clear on what they want to achieve, whether it’s energy reduction, better asset management, or tenant management. They should set a roadmap and select technologies or applications that align with their objectives.
Clients won’t pay for deploying AI-enabled workplace management tools unless they really get the intended results out of it. If that job can be done by the simple application then go for it instead.
Strategic Partnerships and Data-Driven Decision-Making
Engie's focus lies in establishing strategic partnerships with clients, given the increasing commoditization in the market. Their clients expect a team that is equipped enough and can trust them for making data-driven decisions. Engie, with a background in data and asset management, actively seeks tools offering predictive intelligence.
Energy management is also high on the agenda as Engie being a leader in that space. If the solution or application helps their facility management teams to improve operational efficiency while reducing the cost then it would be on their list.
Key Elements for an Effective Tech Stack
For the tech stack, Bart recommends having the following things checked
- CAFM System: A foundational tool for facility management.
- Workflow Management Application: Offering comprehensive reporting and violation tracking.
- IoT Sensors and Platforms: Enabling data acquisition H/S and analytics.
- Analytics Software: Providing insights for informed decision-making.
- Optional VR/AR Applications: Depending on client-specific needs.
Integration for Comprehensive Insights
Streamlining different data sources to provide insights across all the assets and modules is simply difficult to imaging by a single standalone platform. One would need to keep the stack open for third-party integrations. One can not depend on one application to provide forecasting and energy efficiency insights at a single go.
There are many applications out there which are excellent in specific areas so we should look for integration as per the client’s needs and deliver what’s client is expecting out of it. Bart highlighted saying that they are technology agnostic and work with multiple tech providers.
Effectiveness Trumps Exclusivity and Cost
When asked what would he choose between the stack exclusivity or the cost? Bart instantly replied that it’s not about the tech stack that matters. It should be the right combination of technologies or applications but how you work with it that matters. You can set up Maximo on basic mode or very advanced mode. It's all up to your team how well it handles that technology stack to optimize their applications.
So it’s the strategy and operations teams’ capabilities to work with the tech stack that's more critical than the exclusivity or the cost.
Involvement of Operations and CIE Teams in selecting a Tech stack
We have seen how the discussion around digital transformation heated up in the last couple of months. There is a parallel motion going on to reduce the overall operational cost of the facilities to save a little on diminishing margins. So if we put both the things in perspective we can see that most of the decisions are weighed down by the procurement teams as they would have to keep the check on funds available.
Bart also highlighted the same observation he had in recent days. He said although the technology adoptions are taking up a pace, decisions should remain under the operations and CIE (Center for innovation and excellence) departments as they are the one who knows what's going on the shop floor and which application can help them optimize their asset.
Once the procurement team has the options available they should do the techno-commercial analysis on all of the applications and take a CIE or Operations team’s feedback to freeze the decision.
Engie's Approach to Application Sourcing
Bart shared insights about how the Engie works when it comes to sourcing new application or developing an in-house software.
Engie employs a balanced approach to application sourcing, combining in-house development with external solutions. They have a plethora of services and solutions, and there is a separate entity which is called Engie digital, which is responsible for investing in R&D and startup acquisitions. Teams at Engie digital, work as an interface between the problems their facility management arms face at the facility levels and the solutions available at the global level. Largely Engie doesn’t invest much on building software but choose to work on integrating it with the tech stack providers.
Bart Holsters' insights offer valuable guidance for optimizing facility management technology stacks. Clear intent, strategic partnerships, effective integration, and operational involvement are pivotal.
Hope you have found these takeaways Insightful and practical in nature.
Planning to build on your existing stack or want to know more about where to start? Schedule a call with Umesh Bhutoria (Founder, CEO Xempla) to gain further insights and initiate your journey towards an efficient facility management ecosystem.