Even though we aren't driving flying cars yet (don't give Elon Musk any ideas), technology has made a major impact on the facilities management industry over the last several years. New systems, software, and devices are providing facilities leaders with more and better data to maintain and operate their facilities more efficiently and cost-effectively.
While technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics often grab headlines, the hype of new technology often comes way sooner than when it is practical for facilities teams to actually use in practice. It can be hard for facilities leaders to figure out what technology they should be investing in, and which they should take a wait and see approach. While sipping on a piña colada on the beach as your fully automated, AI enhanced facilities manage themselves may sound great...and a little dystopian, no one has achieved that yet.
Figuring out what technology you should be focused on can be a bit overwhelming, which is why we are here to help. We have taken a look at the three biggest technologies that are set to change how buildings are maintained and operated right now, in 2021. So adjust your glasses and put away that encyclopedia, because it's about to get nerdy in this blog. Want to read the whole list? Download our 2021 Technology Trends in Facilities Management report.
Trend #1: The Continued Growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Devices in Facilities
IoT and smart devices have been around for a long time, with the first connected device being a toaster back in 1990. This is impressive until you hear that the toaster's first message was "I should have been born a Ferrari."
IoT and smart devices have come a long way since perfecting the toasting process. Today, these devices are being used in almost every industry across the globe, providing users with massive amounts of data that was unattainable before.
The cost to buy and implement IoT sensors continues to go down, but probably the most important factor in its growth is the ability for software to integrate and intake the data from these sensors. If you have already installed IoT and smart devices, 2021 is a great year to review how things are going. Are you meeting your IoT goals and achieving ROI? What other facilities management functions might sensors help you become even more efficient and lean?
If you haven't jumped on the IoT train yet, don't panic. This year is a great opportunity to start exploring what IoT and smart devices could do for your facilities. A good first step is installing them for energy management. Not only will these new data sources help meet sustainability and green initiatives put out by executive leadership and government regulations, but it can help drastically cut utility costs by pinpointing where energy waste is happening.
Trend #2: Building Information Management (BIM) Has Reached The Tipping Point
BIM technology has become the standard in the construction industry but it has yet to really take hold of facility management. Paper, PDF, and CAD are still the predominant format for floor plans that facilities teams use.
This is set to change in 2021 and beyond, as we are reaching the tipping point for BIM adoption. While in years past it was cost-prohibitive to change almost an entire portfolio of floor plans to BIM, this financial barrier is crumbling as facilities teams gather more and more BIM files on new or renovated buildings. Once you start nearing half of your buildings having BIM files, it begins to make a lot more sense to convert your old paper and PDF ones.
It is more important now more than ever for facility leaders to start evaluating the benefits of BIM files. At its core, BIM is a digital technology that delivers intelligence and real-data to inform how to build and operate buildings. Where CAD is a recreation of manual drawings that requires lots of time and manual effort to keep accurate, BIM is able to do this more accurately and in much less time. For example, a hand drawing doesn't tell you the square footage of a room. BIM does this out of the box, allowing facilities teams to better plan and operate their buildings.
While this may seem complicated and futuristic, facility management software is already leveraging this technology today. Check out how AkitaBox's Location-Based Asset Mapping leverages 2D BIM files to deliver accurate and usable floor plans.
Trend #3: Drone Technology Takes Flight
When they aren't buzzing over your head at the park or delivering your Amazon package, drones bring a lot of value to facilities teams. While adoption is still very low -- below 20% in the AkitaBox 2021 State of Facility Management survey -- this number should continue to rise as drones become more commercially available and affordable.
The most common use case for drones currently is roof management. Listen, no one likes going up on the roof to complete that inspection or check what condition those rooftop units are in. Drones eliminate this time consuming and potentially dangerous activity for facilities teams. Teams can get high-quality imagery of building roofs in a fraction of the time, helping them limit risk. This imagery can then be used to identify potential issues and keep tabs on the overall condition from the safety and comfort of the ground.
See what other technology trends are happening in 2021
Download our full 2021 Technology in Facility Management report to get a more in-depth look at how these techs and more are set to change the facility management industry. What technology are you planning on investing in for 2021? Let us know in the comments!