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AI Insights: How AkitaBox is Using AI to Make Facilities Management Easier

September 1, 2023

This is the second in an ongoing series of articles exploring the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and facilities management (FM). As AI plays an ever larger role in FM, this series helps facility industry professionals understand and leverage AI to build a brighter future. Read the first article here.

Why did you go into the facilities management field in the first place? Probably not because you like typing. Yet facility professionals spend a ridiculous amount of time typing asset data into a computer, hunting through rows and rows of spreadsheets to find information, transferring data between programs, and typing up reports.

Artificial intelligence can take over the manual, time-consuming, and just plain boring parts of your job so you’re free to be more proactive and focus on your facility passion projects.

AI is already doing this in other aspects of our lives, for instance:

  • Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa use AI to understand and respond to voice commands, helping you set reminders, turn on the music, or even send text messages.
  • Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon use AI to analyze your preferences and past behavior and then recommend movies, music, or products you might like.
  • AI-driven predictive text on keyboards anticipates the next word you’re going to type, speeding up texting and reducing typing errors.
  • Google Maps uses AI to provide real-time traffic updates, optimal routes, and estimated arrival times.

Isn’t it time the facilities industry got to enjoy cool benefits like these, too?

At AkitaBox, we’re on the leading edge of this exciting technology. We’re constantly experimenting with, testing, and trying new AI features in our software (where it makes sense) to speed up processes, ensure accuracy, and provide more value for our customers.

But it’s not just AI for the sake of AI. We’re not incorporating AI just because it’s a shiny buzzword. We want to make our users faster and give them a better experience in our software – AI is just one of the tools we’re leveraging to do that.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how we’re currently using AI in our software as well as some additional ways we could incorporate it even more in the future.

How AkitaBox Software Uses AI Today

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR is an AI feature in our Capture mobile app. It speeds up data collection by identifying assets from a photo and filling out as much asset information for you as possible.

Here’s how it works. Snap a photo of a manufacturer plate on an asset and OCR will “read” the letters and numbers for you. Select which data field should house that information and the software fills it in for you – no typing required.

Soon you’ll also have the option to turn on AI suggestions. If you do so, our AI will look at that OCR information and suggest which fields in the software it should fill in with that data.

You’ll still be in the driver’s seat though, because you’ll have the choice to accept or reject those suggestions. If OCR happens to put info into the wrong field or misreads a line of text, you can reject it and correct it.

Whenever you accept or reject the suggestions, you’ll actually be helping us train our AI model so it keeps getting better at identifying which text should go into each field. Pretty neat, right?

Natural Language Query

In the Insights dashboard (pictured here) in AkitaBox FCA software, you can ask sophisticated questions using everyday English and the AI (named “Simply Ask”) will create data visualizations that give the answers.

For example:

  • “What would be the best use of a $500k budget?”
  • “What can I expect to spend in the next three years?”
  • “Should I repair or replace this building?”

You can enable Simply Ask on any dashboard within Insights. Once it’s enabled, start typing a question or choose from a list of predefined questions. The AI translates your natural language question into a formal query that the system understands and then answers your request by displaying a visualization of your data.

What Could the Future Hold?

So many more exciting AI applications are in store for AkitaBox software. We’re actively developing and testing new AI-powered features to make day-to-day facilities management duties easier to tackle by:

  • Automating repetitive tasks
  • Answering questions using your own data
  • Answering questions by going out onto the internet and finding answers that aren’t available within our software

AI in facilities management software has the potential to:

  • Suggest costs from your cost database
  • Suggest costs even if you don’t have a matching cost
  • Suggest data fields to fill out for better cost estimation
  • Answer questions about your facilities data
  • Suggest inspection tasks and schedules
  • Suggest preventive maintenance tasks and schedules
  • Suggest preventive maintenance frequencies based on current staffing levels
  • Answer questions about how AkitaBox software works
  • Generate predictive trends based on your data (for example: I have 3 current employees, an average of 8 maintenance requests per day, and a requirement to complete each request in under 5 hours. How many employees do I need?)

It’s all about letting AI do what it does best (speed up processes, ensure accuracy, make suggestions, etc.) so you can focus on doing what you do best (think critically, make decisions, and take action).

A future where AI supports facilities management is an exciting one filled with possibilities. Don’t let your team be left behind. See AkitaBox’s AI in action by requesting a customized demo today!

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Geoff Baron

As Product Manager at AkitaBox, Geoff guides the ongoing improvement and development of the AkitaBox suite of products. He loves creating tools that solve problems and help people do their jobs more efficiently. His greatest achievement so far has been to help raise 3 incredible kids with his amazing wife.

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