The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Friday, 10 July

Digital Transformation – Facility & Property Management

Karl Redmond
24th August 2018

Digital transformation within the facility management and property (real estate) market requires a new set of skills, thinking and behaviours at all levels, alongside a shift in culture. Pockets of good practice, excellence, innovative thinking in the digital (big data) space exists, alongside the odd plea for greater understanding and learning. Unfortunately, these are usually in silos, short lived and come from those new to the sector or those classed as strategists or techies.

Clients however are consuming more data and asking more question of the information than ever before. The days of static, ‘snap shot’, property / real estate and facility management asset assessments are rapidly disappearing. Instead we are seeing the need for real-time, independent, verifiable data capture that can be continuously assessed, benchmarked, analysed and presented as a ‘single source of the truth’, for the client to utilise, manipulate and embed in to their business strategies and aid in meeting operational targets.

To start bringing ‘big data’, property and digital innovation together - and we have all heard discussion or comments about the Internet of Things (IoT), Building Information Modelling (BIM) and more recently about Smart Contracts and Blockchain – we need to start utilising tried and tested skills; communication, articulation, listening, cooperation, connecting and integrating.

A lack of understanding of the property asset / facilities

The lack of integration between digital, physical asset, operational and business data stems from the lack of connectivity between various client side departments and their respective silos. However, this is significantly exacerbated by a lack of understanding of the property asset / facilities and how it meets and fits the business need, usually as a result of transactional thinking and a ‘command and control’ approach from some. There exists the technical competence and know-how to bring together all supporting business information systems and physical asset data sets, to help meet the client requirements, short and long term.

Difficult Clients

I sometimes hear the expression ‘difficult clients’, but I don’t believe many clients deliberately set out to be “difficult”. It is surely more about what drives behaviours... I have met clients living in fear, surrounded by uncertainty or drifting along in ignorant bliss, as well as those who are more assured and in control – but anyone who feels they do not have access to relevant, accurate and up to date data needed to understand their business better is bound to feel vulnerable. As mentioned previously, those same clients are asking more direct and pertinent questions as a result of the growing amounts of data before them. Those same clients are becoming more certain about what it is they want and they are no longer drifting along wondering what the ‘art of the possible’ could look like. Real estate, property and facility management clients are beginning to understand and piecing together data themselves and like ‘data volumes’ their number and ambitions are growing.

Different Challenges

I recently read a report that stated “In the UK, we add less than 0.5% to the value of our existing asset base each year. As such, the greatest efficiency gains are to be had in asset management, combining physical and digital systems to create truly smart infrastructure. This presents different challenges for owners of existing assets – who need to connect legacy systems to unlock operational efficiencies, and new owners created through major projects – who want to deliver best-in-class performance, fit for the next 50 years, in a rapidly changing technological landscape.” Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure & Construction et al. (2016).

With growing pressures on all clients there is a need for greater ‘big data’ understanding, analytics and usage, and the property / facility management sector cannot sit in isolation and hope to survive.


We need to ensure existing property assets and facilities are assessed, measured, monitored and cared for in a more sophisticated manner so they enjoy usefulness in line with our own life spans and beyond. Digital transformation and innovation - big data, IIoT, Smart Contracts, Sensor Technology, Smart Asset Management, BIM/GSL, digital MRO - agendas are not going away or replacing anyone, they are there to underpin and support what we do by overlaying data sets, digital-physical-commercial-biological and more. We have an opportunity to radically improve and optimise the performance of all property and facility management programmes by linking digital/physical data sets, something we will all benefit from.

So how do we overcome the challenges that we have created and are responsible for? Should we make time and resources available for the ‘new comers, strategists and techies’ so digital innovation and implementation can have a real chance to aid the traditional, highly regarded services, built environment professionals have to offer? How do individuals, stuck in bad habits, practices and with archaic cultural views, ask for help or learn how to ask the dumb question?

It is time for “traditionalists” to learn some new skills, which is not beyond any of them. They have demonstrated technical and professional competence for many years and, as an industry, we cannot afford to lose the experience many of them have in abundance, - they all have a capacity to engage in the fourth industrial revolution...........DATA!

Picture: Karl Redmond MSc, Associate at Rider Levett Bucknall

Article written by Karl Redmond MSc, Associate at Rider Levett Bucknall – published 24th August 2018


Related Articles

Migrant Cleaners Strike At Justice - And Other Locations

Migrant cleaners are to strike simultaneously at the Ministry of Justice and Kensington & Chelsea Town Hall on August 7-9. Meanwhile, self-employed electricians are...

 Read Full Article
Mercury Rising, Straw Dogs, Hot Fuzz, Top Guns, The Crown & Vikings

We've got an FM Digest so good you'd almost want to make a movie out of it. Mercury have taken the Almac contract; Elior are eliminating plastic straws; Tenon are...

 Read Full Article
Skanska Wins Contract for 20 Ropemaker Street

Skanska has won a £240 million contract to construct 20 Ropemaker Street in Central London for Great Elm Assets Limited, in association with Old Park Lane...

 Read Full Article
X Marks The Spot Of The Tallest Tower In Town

The City of London Corporation has approved 1 Undershaft - AKA The Trellis - which will be the second tallest building in the Capital after The Shard and thus the second...

 Read Full Article
Airline Company Guilty For Lift Shaft Plunge Horror

Flybe, the airline company, was sentenced on 4 February 2020 for the unsafe operation of a passenger lift. Meanwhile, a number of other firms have found themselves...

 Read Full Article
Emcor UK Takes Insurance On TFM Contract

Emcor UK, has been awarded a contract with multinational insurance company RSA Insurance Group which is being described as a total facilities management contract. It will...

 Read Full Article
Win For City, Dictating & Docs Go Green, Cloud Award & Ward Award

The full FM Digest features catering and doc management contract wins; employee motivation; and gender pay gap reporting PLUS seven stories more.   Manchester...

 Read Full Article
Dodgy Dealings, Double Helpings And A Leicester Swoop - Anyone For A Digest?

We've got contract gains and company purchases and news of Carillion FDs under investigation and another NHS Trust setting up its own FM co - FM Digesting at its...

 Read Full Article
All To Play For And Pay For In The Enviro World

Envirotech Group Launches New FM Business; Whitbread extends relationship with Mitie; Sodexo has won an £11.2 million contract with Tyne Coast College Group and...

 Read Full Article
Healthy & Wealthy Ahoy - It's The Post-Easter FM Digest

As Sodexo says good riddance to the deep fried Mars Bar, Engie says hello to the deep blue sea - and a hydrogen fuel experiment. Meanwhile NG Bailey has bought the...

 Read Full Article