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WINTER MAINTENANCE THE RISE OF THE MACHINES? FM is part of a wave of digitisation that is transforming every industry but the experts at


GRITIT, which is pioneering the use of technology in outdoor FM, argue that skilled people will always be at the heart of effective service delivery.


In virtually every industry, the inexorable forces of digitisation are transforming the nature of business and the nature of work. From the mobile phones in our pockets, to datacentres virtualising digital assets into the cloud, to the AI systems that interpret and act faster than the speed of human thought, we are now encouraged to think of digital as the default mode of doing business.


As early as 2011, years before the advent of Uber or AirBnB, a report by consultancy EY talked of the “Digitisation of Everything” arguing that “in a world where ‘everything’ is digitised businesses need to pursue innovation to disrupt their own business model before the competition does.” And while certain industries, largely based on physical, real world processes and manual labour, may have seemed immune to these forces, a second wave of change is underway. For example, as red diesel prices soared, farmers have increasingly


employed combine harvesters guided with cm precision by GPS to avoid wasteful extra mileage. Meanwhile, the future of truck driving is looking increasingly bleak with Elon Musk’s Tesla announcing the start of trials of their autonomous semi in 2017.


If we follow the money, we can see that facilities management is very firmly in the midst of a second wave of digitisation. In 2016, a study by MTW Research forecast that the UK’s facilities management industry would receive a £200m boost in profitability significantly driven by the adoption of leaner operating models and the deployment of technology. That study argued that market forces in a challenging economy would drive demand for technology that enhances productivity, including Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, automated monitoring and reporting, robotic cleaning equipment and remote servicing’ – all key areas of opportunity for FM providers.


46 | TOMORROW’S FM


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