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. How they build it, maintain it, and scale it as per their client’s requirements. With the performance-based contracts and cut through the competition to reduce the operations costs it has become critical to have a tech stack that enables facility management teams to bring the best of them.
While building on the service delivery stack, It’s essential to understand the client’s pain points, leverage internal and external capabilities to come up with a solution then standardize an application/software based on demography and competitive market conditions and keep experimenting with a healthy combination of partnerships and a homegrown application suite.
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.
Don’t just go for the technology unless you are clear on what to achieve from it
Bart started the discussion by questioning people’s intent to go for technological innovations such as big data, AI, 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 accordingly they should set the roadmap and select the right technology or applications that help them to thrive and achieve.
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.
Continuing Bart says that For Engie, their goal is to achieve a strategic partnership with their clientele as the commoditization has increased in the market. Their clients expect a team that is equipped enough and can trust them for making data-driven decisions, and coming from a data and asset management background they are on a constant lookout for the tools that can provide some sort of 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.
For the tech stack, Bart recommends having the following things checked
- One should have the basic CAFM system
- workflow management application with good reporting and violation
- Adopting IoT sensors and platforms along with data acquisition H/S
- Analytics software
- Artificial realty or Virtual reality application can be optional or client-specific
One platform cant do it all
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 3rd 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.
It’s not about the stack but how you utilize it
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, obviously, 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.
Things take a downturn when decisions on the tech stack are taken by procurement teams only
We have seen how the discussion around digital transformation heated up in the last couple of months, also there is another 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.
On a concluding note, Bart shared insights about how the Engie works when it comes to sourcing new application or developing one inhouse,
He said It's a mix of both, 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.
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 learn more about it