FSI has released a suite of apps connecting facilities management to the wider business community. These single purpose user-focussed apps will encourage those using them to engage with their workplace, contributing to the success of the facilities. The apps can make use of all the enabling technologies now established: from the smartphone to mobile and wireless communications, to the internet-of-things and machine-to-machine and artificial intelligence.
Apps to encourage FM engagement
Putting ‘consumerised’ FM functionality into the hands of all those who work in, or in other ways use, CAFM-driven buildings reflects today’s leading-edge of FM software development. FM need no longer be limited to the expert domain of managers, operatives and IT specialists.
Easily accessible apps dispel the myth that a user must enter a separate FM world to do ‘FM things’. These intuitive apps eliminate the need to drill-down through multi-function screens, possibly involving a Helpdesk that is a regular requirement of established CAFM.
For example, using a reporting app to advise Maintenance that a wall has been graffitied is as easy as taking a photo, identifying a location, and sending the problem to the helpdesk, via a familiar interface that sits next to the others on a phone – for emailing, web-browsing, Amazon etc – is set to become second-nature.
This approach supports increasing awareness that FM demands a raised business profile. FM performance can bear significantly on the satisfaction levels of all those in workplace communities (employees, suppliers, customers: passengers, patients etc) and so affect HR issues such as staff satisfaction and retention, and customer perceptions and loyalty. These, in turn, influence overall corporate well-being and brand image. So the mainstream ‘fix and clean’ activities within FM – and the creation of innovative, new, app-driven services – can be seen as being an increasingly important building block for determining organisational success.
FM outsource providers and corporate end-users can take advantage of customised branding for the apps, which is an integral feature. So they will have the opportunity to make their profile visible to the widest user-base – linking themselves directly with the innovation, connectedness and value that apps bring to workplace communities.
Incentivisation is envisaged to encourage maximised take-up and app use. Users reporting faults/incidents may receive benefit by way of prize draws for their actions, or be given a loyalty reward for, perhaps, every tenth report received.
Democratising and disrupting FM
Local authorities, public transport facilities, colleges/universities and hospitals clearly demonstrate the value from app use by the widest range of user communities. Mass take-up of issues-reporting apps will bring benefit for all from optimal housekeeping, maintenance and use of facilities. Booking and buying apps will allow maximised opportunity for people to make convenient (and, where relevant, profitable) use of services available.
Technologically, Concept Advantage is forward-looking. From smartphones/tablets it is designed to further extend into the emerging era of wearables, digital assistants (such as Amazon’s Alexa), plus the many other opportunities available with the Internet of Things (IoT).
The initial suite of apps focusses on the more frequent FM actions, such as ‘report, request, book, buy’ functions. Chatlog (a social helpdesk) and Our Say (crowdfunding for suggestions), with strong socialising elements, are in the first portfolio, along with Register a Visitor. Future, ‘disruptive’ apps are set to challenge existing conventions within hard and soft FM; consider how drones have revolutionised building condition surveys for instance.
The FM app revolution points to a leap forward in the exploitation of smart technologies within buildings, helping make it possible for all the stakeholders at a site to contribute to its success.