Turning data into profitable insight

November 8, 2016
Posted in Resources
November 8, 2016 GraemeH

Every day we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. For those unfamiliar with such mind-boggling numerical terminology, this equates to 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.

To give today’s data generation feats even greater context, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years. And within that data there lies gold (or profit and risk management, to use more apt business terms).

Consider that 99.5% of the world’s digital data is never analysed1, and particularly from a facilities management perspective, think about the valuable data that goes uncollected; could you tell historically how many times the toilets were cleaned, or what the average number of people served during lunch, on any given day was?

The good news is, there’s a deluge of data already flooding through your business as a result of your day-to-day activities, and if you can harness the insight within, it’s a well of opportunity.

This paper looks at how better use of data could enable FM businesses to make more effective, sustainable, and profitable decisions.

Real-time, real value

Imagine being able to call up a dashboard of information, in real-time, with intelligence ranging from consumption of consumables, visitor numbers, number of ‘seats’ in each building and their occupancy patterns, energy management, catering needs by time slot. What could you do with that amount of detail at your fingertips? Visual insight is where fact led business decisions can be made, and justified, when it comes to identifying and correcting process flaws, minimising operational variances, and reducing waste.

You don’t know what you can’t see

But what happens with the data generated from your business activities?

Where do you keep your information, is it on a CRM, in Timegate, Servicetrac, a CAFM or in Excel? Is it centralised for everyone to access, or is it dispersed across multiple departments, functions, and people? Is it organised or unstructured (and slightly chaotic)?

Perhaps you’re still maintaining an expensive and risky paper-based process, old habits die hard right?

Organising data that is being generated through all facets of a facility’s operational management; from contract management and payroll, to invoicing and scheduling, into a central database is the first step to improving the control of data flowing through your business.

And only from smarter management of data can actionable insight ensue, and then from which smarter business behaviour becomes a stable part of operation.

Justifying the investment

Operating an FM business requires striking a profitable balance between quantity and quality of services delivered.

Being able to interrogate data in real-time, allows FM businesses to identify gaps or under skilling in service levels.

If you’re receiving complaints because you’re not meeting your contractual hours of delivery, or quality of service, you need to quickly see where the fault lies – if your data resides on a sheet of paper on the back of a toilet door, or the clip chart at the end of a hospital bed, you’ll be hard pressed to pinpoint the reason for your service failing being a lack of the number of times the bed was changed or the toilet was cleaned.

Boosting employee productivity

Big Data is helping FM learn more about the connections between workplace design and individual work styles and their association to greater productivity.

In the future FM businesses may find themselves under pressure to provide custom-fit (but cost-effective) workplaces for specific project teams and even individual knowledge workers. The exciting aspect is that data to inform those design decisions will be plentiful and readily available.

Streamlining processes

A recent industry survey conducted by i-FM.net, highlighted the growing impact of mobile technology on facilities management. Over 70% of businesses are now using tablet and mobile devices to manage their facilities operations, compared to just 45% last year.

Anticipating waste

Analysing historical building data can highlight variations in building energy, and therefore pinpoint areas of potential cost savings. There’s a recent example of an FM organisation saving their client £400,000 annually by installing a specialised air-conditioning solution to combat rising energy costs.
Improving customer anticipation
An operations manager, for example, might use big data to create an optimised cleaning schedule that accounts for real-time levels of high demand, or to identify areas of the facility that are vulnerable to overcrowding during peak hours.

Changes such as this are likely to improve customer and client satisfaction, while bolstering employee health – all of which equate to long-term economic benefits.

The evolution from passive to proactive provider

Servitization is a service evolution becoming increasingly prevalent within manufacturing, and is something that FM organisations could consider as part of their own strategy.

This could be where, for example, an FM company delivers asset or monitoring equipment as a service, perhaps on a subscription or pay-per-use pricing model. Data could then be used to pinpoint areas of service improvement. Consider this: 40% of global energy use is used in buildings, and they emit approximately 1/3 of GHG emissions2. Again by analysing data patterns, energy consumption in buildings could be reduced by between 30% to 80%.

Technology driven change

Versus 2015, the business outlook for the FM sector is marginally bleaker, and technology will play an increasingly important role in the improvement of business performance by enabling better management of services.

Nearly half (49%) of the respondents of a Facilities Management Business Confidence Monitor 2016 survey, stated that their investment in technology will be used to improve service delivery, with 46% looking to improve measurement and reporting tools, and 35% suggesting the investment will be made in CRM and communications. And the availability of data is an integral part of determining how successful any new technology project ultimately is.

Summary

Exactly what knowledge you want from your data will depend on whether you are the occupier, the FM provider or the finance department, but good FM technology will offer the right insights for all three perspectives.

It is important to identity the type and level of information you want before commissioning your FM system, but ideally it should give you the ability to drill down into the detail of what you need in a way that is easy to interpret, using, for example pie charts and graphs.

It should also give you the flexibility of access you need: a web-based and multi-platform solution that can be accessed from anywhere on any device. But a word of caution, for as sociologist William Bruce Cameron once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” In other words, use judgement to pinpoint the data you really need when it comes to implementing strategies designed to enhance customer service delivery.

For your final consideration, and perhaps the most important in determining success: your FM solution should integrate with your other systems. If you can’t achieve this, then you’ll be unable to capture the data for which the solution was intended in the first place.

Unlock your data with Timegate & Servicetrac

Download Whitepaper Innovise_whitepaper.pdf

1 Cisco 2 United Nations Environment Programme