There is much to be said for Cloud computing. It reduces the cost of IT. It provides a secure platform to support growth. And it’s the only true way to increase productivity; if you’ve got an internet connection you can be at work.
But on the scale of technology evolution, where does it sit with facilities management organisations?
Should you invest? What does the investment look like? What does it really mean and where does it help?
Let’s take a look.
Facilities Management. A 24/7 Job
In the world of facilities management there’s a lot that can go wrong in the blink of the eye. To be truly effective in facilities management you need to be able to respond quickly wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. And even when things aren’t going wrong, there remains considerable pressure to remain in control around-the-clock.
For this reason, facilities management and Cloud computing seem like a match made in heaven because it gives you the necessary information and control that you need in a matter of seconds – no matter where you are.
Cloud computing has also been proven2 to help reduce business costs, increase productivity and enable more flexible working; which is important now that nearly half1 of employees use their personal devices for work.
But what actually is Cloud computing, and what does it mean for facilities management?
What does Cloud computing actually mean?
At its most basic level, Cloud computing is the process of moving data and business applications from an on-site computer or server, to a network of off-site servers.
You can then remotely access everything you’ve moved to those servers from any device, and control which clients or employees have access.
Investing in the cloud
Unlike traditional IT you aren’t actually investing in a physical asset, which might initially seem like a negative because of the lack of ownership, but it means you negate the initial upfront cost.
What you’re actually paying for is space on an off-site server. Once you’ve paid, it’s down to the provider to maintain and manage the server for the amount of time you’ve agreed to use it – which is perhaps why 41% of organisations who have moved to the Cloud have been able to reduce the cost and complexity of their IT3.
How big a priority is it?
Every facilities management professional has got a laundry list of things to do, so you’re probably wondering why you should burden yourself with changing an IT system.
Well, research shows that organisations who embrace the Cloud grow 19.6% faster than those that don’t4.
Financially, it’s a compelling argument!
Facilities management can be a fickle business and how busy your site is can depend on a myriad of factors including the time of year, the weather, and activities and occasions. For example, hotels are going to be busier during peak seasons, and even more so if a compelling event is driving tourists to the location; travel agent offers during the summer school holidays for example.
Previously that hotel would need to purchase, store and maintain servers big enough to handle peak seasonal traffic, particularly if it wanted to capture the increased sales opportunity during these periods.
But when demand dies down, the space and processing power would be redundant – but you’d still need to pay for the upkeep of the infrastructure, space, electricity and cooling.
Cloud computing simplifies this because now you only pay for extra compute power during peak times, and can then scale it back when demand dwindles.
Speeding up workflow
Pairing mobile devices and Cloud-based solutions can cut the time it takes to get from one end of a workflow to the other. For example, taking a tablet or phone on a weekly inspection means you can log issues as you go and your maintenance team will see updates in real-time.
It cuts out the need of going back to your computer, typing up the results in to a spreadsheet and emailing them across to maintenance. As well as reducing the chances of entering the wrong data or the paperwork getting lost – not to mention the risk of simply forgetting to do it!
Tracking service is a critical success factor but making it real time or close to real-time is now the minimum standard your clients will be expecting of your organisation.
Meeting employee expectations
Most employees now expect to have access to any document, at any time, wherever they are in the world – that’s just the age we live in. And it’s largely down to accessible Cloud technology.
In facilities management where projects are getting bigger, assignment instructions are getting more complex and contractually more sensitive, giving your staff access to the right information at the right time is essential to help maintain smooth operation.
It’s not just staff expectations you need to fulfil though. Your customers also demand the ability to interact with your organisation whenever and wherever they want – this may take the form of interaction via native apps on a mobile device.
Increasing employee engagement
Developing applications that allow employees to remain connected to core business functions is a great way to boost your employees’ engagement and productivity. For example, if you give staff the ability to quickly request meeting rooms, report faults and log feedback on their devices – it simply means getting more done, rapidly.
Timegate from Innovise is a great example of how Cloud technology can work in tune with organisational processes and employee operation.
Timegate gives staff self-service access to personnel files, HR content and work schedules, as well as enabling them to process holiday requests from an app on their device or our web browser platform. But all with the necessary administrative controls to protect sensitive information.
It’s a simple to use and cost-effective Cloud application built just for facilities management organisations.
Servicetrac allows you to track service delivery too. Closed-loop technology reduces the chances of contract failure, human error and lots of manual re-keying.
Why play catch up?
84%5 of UK organisations have adopted at least one Cloud service, which means organisations that delay in embracing Cloud technologies will soon fall behind their competitors.
Cloud technology has been proven to be beneficial to businesses6 – if you’ve not already made the move, then perhaps it’s time you make Cloud migration your number one priority.