Smart technology in the Middle East | Macro

Smart technology in the Middle East

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By Imran Akram, Director of fm24, Macro International

Technology in Facilities Management (FM) has been embraced and is constantly evolving within the Middle East, with many new innovations in mobility and end-user interfaces. 

For some time, FM systems have started to look beyond basic FM functionality to see how FM activities impact other parts of the business. Organisations are incorporating Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) into their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) so that, for example, operational data can flow efficiently from the CAFM to the finance system. Such integrations are becoming more and more common in the industry where ultimately a single management information system can report from multiple sources in a single platform. 

Challenges

The main challenge is ensuring processes are adhered to in order to gain the benefits of technology. For example, the correct use of a mobile device by a field technician is critical in terms of determining whether operational Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are met - suitable training, monitoring and sample auditing can ensure that processes are followed. Also, it is critical to have the “buy-in” and contributions from all user groups. Although the delivery of technology is driven by the ICT departments, support is required from other departments as well. 

Smart technology developments

More sophisticated CAFM systems have expanded their standard FM module offerings to include other activities such as: 

  • Property & Estates Management
  • Invoicing
  • Procurement
  • Facility Booking
  • Catering Management
  • Project Management
  • Utilities Consumption Management 

The main benefits are the stream-lining of the FM business processes by creating automated communication through SMS or email for managing reports, notifications, approvals etc. Also, creating a single database source (usually web-based so no need for software deployment) of FM information means either the FM or end-user can easily access information remotely through a web browser. 

Market trends 

  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) – having a common data set that will flow tight through the entire asset life cycle and which can be liberating during the FM cycle 
  • Mobility – although already in use for some time advancements in hardware (tablets & smartphones) and applications will mean greater functionality 
  • Systems Integration – CAFM’s have traditionally been linked to BMS and finance systems. However, other systems such as geographical information systems (GIS) will mean infrastructure, assets, resources can be monitored and tracked with a link to the CAFM so the FM interfaces with a single system 
  • Sustainability – with Estidama in Abu Dhabi and LEED elsewhere it will be important for technology to be able to monitor and record building performance 
  • Social Media – giving end-users a familiar interface into CAFM systems. For example, a wall message on Facebook requesting work transferred into central messaging repository and converted into a task in the CAFM system. 

Industry and organisational demands will ensure that the use of technology will continue to grow. However, it is worth noting that the investment in technology is not only financial but also resource driven. A long term commitment is required from all stake holders to ensure the success of any technological implementation. 

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Parts of this article were previously published in Facility Insight