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How will the Internet of Things impact the future of facilities management?

By 20th February 2017Blog, Facilities Management

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic for a number of years now. Though its impact hasn’t been as quick or as all-encompassing as some predicted, it is beginning to make itself felt in industries across the board. In facilities management, IoT has already started to give businesses a greater understanding of how people are using buildings so that they can tailor services to suit demand. So what exactly is IoT? And can you expect to see it in your place of work?

What is the Internet of Things?

IoT refers to all those devices you have at home and at work that are connected to the web. From your camera to your iPod and your printer to your security system, more and more of our everyday appliances are going online. These devices use the web to communicate with each other, access information, download data and send information to central collection centres.

As well as these obvious online gadgets, appliances now becoming connected include fridges, heating systems, cleaning equipment, security systems, cars, lights and pretty much any other electronic device you can think of. In fact, Intel predicts that the number of connected devices will rise from 15 billion today to a staggering 200 billion in 2020.

Access to intelligence and data

Even now, IoT generates a colossal amount of data. This data can be used in a variety of ways to boost performance, increase efficiency, reduce costs and create more streamlined working practices. Facilities managers can now look at data that’s collected by appliances and sensors to see exactly how employees and customers are using the building. This intelligence can go a long way to informing facilities management (FM) policy and driving the industry forward.

Facilities manager looking at data

Efficiency and quality

According to Business Insider, 82% of businesses will be connected to IoT by the end of 2017. This big increase in connectivity will unlock new opportunities for facilities managers to analyse data and create efficient and productive solutions to everyday challenges. Take for example washroom services, the implementation of IoT will allow FMs to restock consumables based on usage statistics, so there is never a shortage.

As well as having a huge amount of data at their fingertips, facilities managers will increasingly have the tools they need to implement changes that improve operational productivity. From smart lighting and heating systems to security doors that are able to recognise employees, the FM industry is likely to get a whole host of new tools to work with.

Will IoT break the bank?

Though it will take some investment for businesses to become connected, the potential savings for companies in all industries are impressive. According to Microsoft, once an IoT solution has been identified, companies should consider the cost of implementation downtime, software and hardware, retrofitting, platform fees and training to map out the break-even point more accurately. By taking these additional steps, companies are more likely to ensure success and secure buy-in from key stakeholders in the business.

For many organisations, reducing costs will always be the key indicator of success. However, companies at the forefront of adopting IoT have recognised that cost is just one piece of the puzzle. Advances in customer satisfaction, automation and health and safety can all help to quantify the benefits of implementing IoT.

Health and safety

Aside from the obvious concern for employee well-being, accidents at work can cause long-lasting and costly disruptions. In fact, according to the Health and Safety Executive, in Great Britain, 30.4 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury in 2015/16.

It’s hoped that IoT will help to improve these statistics, with connected devices helping employers and FMs to monitor employee safety more efficiently, especially when workers are operating in high-risk environments. The introduction of smart sensors connected to the web will also be able to raise the alarm more quickly and reduce the risk of a serious accident.

With every new advance within IoT bringing fresh possibilities to facilities management, the phenomenon is likely to have a big impact on the industry. With this in mind, Servest is already trialling cleaning robots and is continually looking at how IoT can benefit its clients.

To find out more, or to learn about how Servest can work with you, contact a member of the team today.

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