In our last blog, we discussed how digital transformation is revolutionizing the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) sector. We illustrated how technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud, and Mobile technologies are changing the way organizations operate their business and how customers are benefitting from it.
In this second part blog, we’ll discuss the benefits digital transformation can bring to Corporate Real Estate, specifically, the facility management sector. As a follow-up to this blog, we will provide insights on how facility management leaders can kickstart their digital transformation journey and successfully implement & operationalize the change.
Since we have already discussed what digital transformation is, we’ll quickly move into the technologies that can be hugely beneficial to the facility management sector.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Optimize your workplace
Installing IoT sensor based solutions in your workplace can provide insights such as when and how the space is used, when the office traffic peaks and more space is required or in when the office traffic is low. This information can help you understand the actual workplace utilization rates, enabling you to effectively use the space. We have discussed space utilization in an earlier blog too; Maximize returns on your physical space and asset investments.
Enhance service efficiency
Along with optimizing your workplace, IoT solutions can optimize your service efficiency with activity-based services. For example, your cleaning and maintenance employees may have pre-planned schedules for cleaning and maintaining the facility. However, pre-planned schedules may not necessarily reflect the real-time needs of the services. Using IoT solutions, one can align the schedules to meet your actual demand based on activity levels around the office space; be able to provide service when needed as opposed to a fixed predetermined schedule.
Prevent asset downtime via predictive maintenance activities
Installing IoT solutions on your existing assets can enable you to understand the state of your assets in real-time and provides you with advanced analysis on their health & condition. The sensors attached to the assets can provide a centralized view and allow you to remotely monitor their status, thereby, saving your time and resources. You can easily detect the temperature, vibration, fluid leak, power quality and many other conditions of your assets that are a critical contributor to the overall facility environment.
Monitors the indoor environment
IoT’s benefits go way beyond the real time diagnosis of your space, service, and assets. They can collect a wide range of environmental indicators such as light, temperature, air pressure, CO2, and humidity, which are critical to the productivity and well-being of employees. Using the real-time data of the room or workplace, IoT solutions can advise you how to maintain the right air pressure, when you need fresh air and when you need more light in your workplace.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI can reduce energy expenditure
A huge chunk of facility management budget is spent on energy resources like electricity, ventilation, heating, cooling, and water. According to a National Grid report, energy cost tables around 19% of commercial facility expenditures. Using predictive analytics. AI-enabled technology can monitor and effectively manage your energy usage in real-time. For example, AI can automatically turn down the devices during the inactivity period based on the historical usage patterns. AI can also track energy leaks such as poorly fitted Heating Ventilation, and Air conditioning (HVAC) systems or faulty electrical transformers and give you information on when the leaks can happen in the future.
AI can identify security risks
Traditional security system usually requires a team of security personnel to monitor multiple CCTV screens simultaneously at the same time, and if you have a larger facility, you need more people to supervise it. AI-powered applications can monitor all the visual data at the same time and detect any threats to the facility. AI can help you in access control. CCTV surveillance, intrusion detection, package screening, and screen detection.
AI can provide better reporting and analytics
In the last few decades, facilities data has been generated manually and decisions are made based on the leaders’ personal opinion. Now, with AI, you can automate your processes to generate accurate and reliable data faster without the potential for human biases and error. Analyzing your historical data related to performance and consistency, AI can also make it easier for you to make smart faster decisions.
AI can streamline the integrations between departments
AI can easily integrate multiple systems of your organizations like Facility Management, Information Technology, and Human Resource into one seamless system. As a lot of your organizational departments might need to work together, AI can help improve the communication between different departments by breaking down the barriers that impede teams from working together.
Quick, flexible and anytime anywhere access to data
With mobile technology, your facility team can access data in real-time from any place at any time. Mobile technology allows users to access, upload, and edit data from any location giving them flexibility and speed. Facility managers meanwhile can easily track tasks, giving them greater control. This enables the entire team to be more productive.
You might have installed different applications like asset monitoring or booking management for your facility. Today’s technology allows you greater adaptability by having those systems accessible from your smartphones. This enables users to easily monitor systems not just from desktops but also from mobile devices giving you greater access to the data on the go. For example, facility managers can track who is using which asset, how long it is being used by simply opening an app on a smartphone.
Allows easy reporting
Mobile applications can enable facility managers and teams to report events and incidents or update their daily reports by phone instead of having to get on a computer to report every detail (which could take a longer time). One could save your time and increase the organization’s productivity if they can perform tasks like reporting and updates through a mobile app.
Virtual and Augmented Reality (AR)
Creates intelligent renderings of Facilities
Augmented Reality can create user-friendly 3D modeled renderings of your facilities which can help you to plan and design the facility before building it. This allows you to fully immerse yourself in building detailed maps and prototypes virtually instead of wasting time and money in physical trial and error. This also allows you greater flexibility in showing both the indoor and outdoor of the prototype in great detail.
Monitors the hidden facility equipment
There are many assets in the buildings which are difficult to access, such as pipes installed inside the walls or the underground tunnels that are not easy to monitor constantly. AR sensors can detect if something is wrong with the asset and provide you with a digitized 3D view of its current state, usually called a digital twin. Installing sensors on the asset can also provide live audio and video stream capabilities.
Remote troubleshoot using Digital Twins
Using 3D models (digital twins), you can inspect where the equipment of your plumbing, electrical and water systems are, without the need of physical visual inspection. This allows you to troubleshoot your assets’ problems and schedule regular work orders with fewer resources and without creating any physical damage. AR gives you a complete picture of your internal building systems by quickly detecting the inefficiencies in your internal equipment.
Technology and solutions are evolving rapidly and a lot of it is being driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, I encourage facilities and asset management professionals to reach out to me to discuss how technology could help them establish a safe and efficient environment for their employees and customers. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Implementing Digital Transformation within the Commercial Real Estate(CRE) Organizations
In our previous digital transformation in Commercial Real Estate (CRE) blogs, we discussed what digital transformation for commercial real estate means and in the second part, we discussed how Facility Management organizations can benefit from implementing digital technologies. In this blog, we’ll highlight how you can kickstart your digital transformation.
It is now clear that digital technologies are influencing the real estate industry and technologies such as cloud computing, AI, and IoT are transforming workplaces, shopping centers, industries and other commercial properties. While consumers are compelling companies to change the way they conduct their business, they are also increasingly engaging with real estate products and services using today’s digital technologies.
Consumers today research online before making any decisions, they want businesses to give them personalized information and use technology to make their lives easier. Therefore, the absence of a strong technological presence means losing the chance to connect with potential customers.
According to the 2019 KPMG Proptech survey, real estate companies are increasingly adopting new technologies. 58% of respondents already had a digital strategy in place, up from 52% in 2018. Similarly, according to the latest BDO survey, 72% of businesses believe they are susceptible to digital disruption in the next three years.
In such an environment, if you are in the CRE industry and have not placed focus on technology up until now, it is time that you harness the power of digital transformation, before it’s too late. If not, you will be missing countless opportunities and even risk your market position and long term viability.
Before we delve into how to implement digital transformations, all stakeholders need to understand that digital transformation should be focussed on business objectives and not on technology. Focus should be on delivering exceptional user experiences to both external and internal customers and it may mean automating manual processes, getting rid of legacy and irrelevant processes & systems that cause bottlenecks, integrating with 3rd party systems (e.g, integrate with credit reporting agencies to validate customer identity), be accessible anytime anywhere and enable quick decision making (“in-the-moment”).
As such, digital transformation should be viewed as a business transformation initiative. Hence, any digital transformation initiative should be well thought out and planned accordingly so that an organization’s long term objectives can be achieved. There will be impacts to people, process and technology and as such, the change needs to be appropriately managed and all stakeholders need to be supported through this change.
In the sections below, we have highlighted steps that organizations can take to digitally transform their organizations. It begins with understanding an organization’s goals & objectives, developing a plan to achieve those goals and executing on the plan while managing stakeholder impacts throughout the process.
The first step for digital transformation is to have a strategy based on long term business objectives rather than a reaction to how your competitors are doing. Your digital transformation can be divided into four stages.
- Confirm Long term vision and business objective
- Define digital transformation objectives
- Establish a team with the right talent
1) Confirm Long term vision and business objective
Digital transformation is about achieving business objectives while providing exceptional user experiences to both internal and external customers. As such, digital transformation needs to start with a clear understanding of the business vision, goals and objectives.
If an organization’s visions and objectives have not been clearly articulated and understood across the organization, then, we don’t recommend initiating the digital transformation initiative. Initiating a digital transformation initiative when the organization’s vision and objective is not understood across the organization is going to drive significant friction within the organization and could paralyze the organization to the point where day to day tasks get impacted.
Keep in mind that digital transformation impacts people, process and technology and as such, all stakeholders need to be aware of the vision and why the change is needed.
As such, the first thing we recommend is an assessment to ensure that the entire organization is aware of the long term vision and objectives.
2) Define your digital transformation objectives and roadmap
The business vision and objectives provides the foundation and guidelines for digital transformation and helps define the outcomes that need to be achieved. Apart from the business objectives, which is the key driver for digital transformation, you should also obtain feedback from key stakeholders in terms of current bottlenecks and pain-points to understand where customer experiences could be enhanced. These sets of input will help define the objectives of the digital transformation; what to change and what to keep as is.
It is recommended that you start with market research and get some honest feedback from your customers, partners and employees. Through market research, you’ll get insight into what the current trends are and which technology will suit your business. Without a thorough understanding of your customers’ pain points, you’ll have no real clarity about how your offerings can be optimized and how technology can bring the most value. This research will give you a clear picture of what objectives to set. Internal stakeholders and employees are a major player in your ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences. As such, you should not forget to obtain their feedback in and understand their challenges in performing their job and delivering customer service.
These are some of the feedback required to define digital transformation objectives that is aligned to the organization’s vision and objectives. While every organization is unique and has its own transformation needs, there are some consistent elements that you need to keep in mind.
As you start to define your digital transformation objectives and roadmap, listed below are some key themes to consider so that your organization can maximize the returns from the investment being made to achieve this change.
i. Transformation requires a short, mid, and long-term vision
Organizations generally have objectives that could be both long term and short term and sometimes, mid-term, where all these objectives align with each other. Similarly, the digital transformation should be broken down into phases and aligned with the short-term, mid-term and long-term objectives of the organization.
The short-term vision usually includes structuring your organization, sifting through processes that can be removed or enhanced as well as defining technology requirements that can help transform your business.
The mid-term is where implementation of the transformation is in full-swing and you will start to see some results. Whether it’s streamlined processes & improved productivity, attracting more customers, positive customer reviews and feedback, or increased revenue, your ROI will start to show. The mid-term vision is an effective way to keep track of your digital transformation progress. This is the time where you will evaluate where you stand in your long term vision. If you are slow in your progress, this is the time to accelerate or re-calibrate.
The long-term vision is where your initial preparation and the implementations will start to provide exponential results. The plan you started shall bring you increased ROI and better market positioning. This is also the phase where a lot of time is spent on operationalizing the changes, training staff and users on the new processes and technologies and providing the support to stabilize and sustain the changes.
Digital transformation is a major change which takes time, especially considering that it impacts people, process and technology. As such, patience and focus is required to sustain the journey till the end. Keep in mind that technologies such as AI and IoT take time to provide significant returns. It takes time to collect data and be able to use that data for automatic decisioning and predictive maintenance purposes. As such, it is very important that the overall journey be broken down into phases and benefits and value can be derived throughout the journey, you don’t have to wait till the end of the initiative to obtain the value.
ii. Transformation input can be both internal and external
When you plan for digital transformation, you should look for both internal and external transformation. Internal is when your ideas and execution comes exclusively from within your company. While external includes involving third-party partners as consultants, looking across industries (own and other industries) and maintaining a good understanding of your competitors.
While internal and external have their pros and cons, both provide insights and opportunities that could be beneficial. The important thing here is to comprehensively understand the quality of each and how they apply to your organization.
iii. Don’t limit yourself and the potential business opportunities
Even if your company is not multinational, don’t limit your thinking to a local level. Digital transformation has the potential to transform your business beyond borders. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly articulated that work can be performed from anywhere (in most cases) and delivered with appropriate level of quality. As such, be open to opportunities globally.
3) Establish a strong project team with full leadership support
If you want your digital transformation to succeed, you need every person in your organization to be aware of the transformation process. All the members of your organization should be able to understand the vision of your transformation process and be excited and involved in the opportunities to come.
Assembling a team with experience in delivering transformational projects and who have the direct support of the leadership team greatly improves the probability of a successful transformation. In addition, education and change management activities such as seminars, workshops, conferences, and so on help in keeping the employees informed and engaged. If you have a CTO, Head of IT, or Innovation, they need to showcase the potential of transformation and get everyone excited about the prospect. The leaders do not need to have technological understanding but, show their passion and communicate effectively to educate and inform.
Digital transformation is a journey and keeping everyone motivated for the duration could be challenging. But, without a strong and dedicated team that has the full support of the organization’s leadership team, the probability of achieving the project’s objectives is low.
i. Hire the right talent
Digital transformation projects will run in parallel to your day to day operations. As such, you cannot assign all of your existing resources on to the digital transformation initiative. Moreover, your existing staff may not have the skills and experience to deliver a digital transformation initiative. In such a scenario, it is prudent to hire experts that know how to deliver large and complex business transformation initiatives.
Since digital transformation involves modern technologies and skillset, you need to hire people wisely. Hire people keeping your long term vision in the mind. Also, another option is to outsource the delivery of the project to a 3rd party company (e.g. consulting companies) that have the experience and in-house experts to deliver such programs. The only drawback of hiring external consultants to run the transformation is the potential loss of knowledge when the consultants leave at the end of the project. This can be mitigated by pairing internal resources with consultants and also conducting knowledge transfer sessions as the project gets towards the end.
ii. Upskill up employees
Business is changing today and so are job roles. Jobs like manufacturing and marketing are being replaced or assisted by automation technology while other technologies like AI and IoT are augmenting business functions. So businesses today need skills which they didn’t have yesterday.
As such, as you start your transformation journey, you will need to involve your existing employees as part of the project. It is important that these team members are provided with the necessary training and support so that they can be productive. Else, you could run into quality and timeline delays, jeopardizing the success of the project.
iii. Involve Subject Matter Experts (SME’s)
You will need to involve SME’s, people that have a deep understanding of the business and process. These could be internal (in-house) resources or external consultants. These SME’s can help understand current processes, bottlenecks and areas of improvements. These inputs are very helpful in determining the transformed target state of a business function or process. In addition, these SME’s can also help test the redesigned state and provide feedback so that these changes can be effectively rolled out.
i. Allocating a budget
Now that you have identified the business objectives, defined the transformation roadmap, and the skills you require to implement the transformation, you need to allocate your budget. You need to understand that spending alone isn’t the denominator for success but spending wisely and consistently is.
Organizations that are digitally transformed, or at least towards their journey, spend a consistent 5-10% of revenue on innovation, research, and development. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), 30% of G2000 companies will have allocated capital budget equal to at least 10% of revenue to fuel their digital strategies by 2020.
Also, consider spending at least 5% of your transformation budget on research and development. Digital transformation is a process that requires constant innovation and development which needs as much attention as your transformation process. It’s an ongoing process, else, you risk getting left behind.
ii. Change adaptation
One critical factor for a successful digital transformation is the change adaption. If your stakeholders don’t accept the change, then, your investment becomes a waste and you get left further behind when compared to your competitors. In order to avoid this risk, it is very important to involve and engage all stakeholders from the beginning of the project. In this way, the change becomes very manageable and the transition from current state to the transformed state becomes a lot easier.
As you think about digital transformation and how to navigate this journey, keep in mind that there are organizations that specialize in this space and can provide you with the support needed. You don’t have to do it alone.
Rucir provides solutions, including Digital Transformation consulting services, to the Facility Management organizations. Our team can help your organization with assessing your requirements and creating a meaningful roadmap to evolve your business through digital transformation. Contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION and to learn more on how we can help.