In the ever-changing Workplace & Facilities Management (W&FM) landscape, there are several key digital skills that WMA Consulting see as being in demand now and increasingly in the future. This blog addresses what I see as the gaps in understanding both the risks and opportunities available to the W&FM sector, which will be ultimately driven by the sector adopting appropriate operational training that will empower W&FM professionals to truly deliver strategic value.
By understanding the skills needed, the Industry as a whole will be able to leverage technology and data-driven approaches to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of operations.
Here are the key digital skills that I believe to be invaluable in the sector both now and in the future:
1). Building Information Modelling (BIM)/ Digital Twins: these systems are a digital representation of a facility that incorporates its physical and functional characteristics. Proficiency in BIM software & operational Digital Twin analysis will allow W&FM practitioners to create and manage 3D models, track changes, collaborate with stakeholders and optimise facility design and operations, and make (almost) real time decisions on changes to a facility.
2). Internet of Things (IoT) and Sensor Technology: are becoming increasingly prevalent in facilities. They are both affordable and scalable, which helps overcome some of the historic challenges around their adoption. The uptake on scale of this technology is enabling real-time monitoring of various parameters such as energy consumption, occupancy levels, temperature, air quality and equipment performance. Facilities managers can utilise this technology to optimise resource allocation, predict maintenance needs and improve occupant comfort.
3). Energy Management Systems: are crucial for monitoring and optimising energy usage in facilities. The ability to understand and interrogate energy management platforms, analysing data from smart meters and monitoring systems and implementing energy-saving strategies are already essential digital skills in W&FM.
4). Facility Management Software & Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS): these systems provide both real estate & space management functionality as well as management of maintenance activities, work orders, asset tracking and preventive maintenance scheduling. Having the skills to analyse the data from these types of systems can streamline processes, improve efficiency, increase asset uptime, enhance the client experience and improve overall workplace & facility performance.
5). Cybersecurity Awareness: with increasing reliance on digital systems and interconnected devices, any W&FM practitioner should be aware of cybersecurity risks and best practices. ISO 27001 is a good example of best practice in the management of cybersecurity that assures customers and providers. Understanding basic cybersecurity principles, such as data protection, network security and user access controls is crucial for safeguarding facility operations and sensitive information. The impact of cybersecurity attacks cannot be understated. One of our clients, a multi-national organisation with a turnover of many millions, were forced to pay their entire supply chain manually for over 3 months in 2020 after a significant cyber-attack, which as you can imagine was both resource heavy and fraught with risks.
So with this plethora of systems available to W&FM practitioners, how do we know the best way to handle this data and add value to the clients and end users?
The challenge today is having the ability to separate the high value data from the vast swathes of ‘general’ data available to us and use this quality data to deliver genuine added value in an almost “real time” manner.
I believe it is imperative that W&FM practitioners develop their data analysis skills. A clear set of W&FM based accredited skills in data analytics, visualisation and reporting is required from the training providers to W&FM to help us all move forward positively and enable practitioners to make data-driven decisions, identify trends, forecast future needs and communicate insights effectively.