Globally, technology is taking the center stage of Real Estate. From conception to construction, operations to management, occupants’ experience space allocation, technology is not just influencing choices, it is changing the way Real Estate is managed and placing new demands on Facilities Management – which accounts for up to 80% of the lifecycle of the Real Estate asset.
Prop-Tech (also referred to as property technology or real estate technology) is a set of cross-industry technologies changing the way Real Estate is managed. It is about buildings and other elements of building smart through data collection & analysis, and responsive through control mechanisms.
Prop-Tech is predicated on connecting various pieces of the property market, so that people in the real estate ecosystem can have data to make informed decisions and people’s interactions with Real Estate assets can be more bespoke or even customized – as with buildings such as The Edge, Amsterdam.
Globally, prop-tech is having a serious effect on business operations, and its vast range of applications are quickly transforming the “tried and-true” office models. However, a “smart” building is only useful when coupled with an ability to integrate with as many other technologies as possible, and it must convert collected data into actionable change.
A recent report by Alpha Mead Group on Tech Trends and the future of Workplace FM in Nigeria states that work-life balance, training, technology & innovation, and pay equity are the four key issues prioritized by the next generation in the workplace. These underscore the value of not just intelligent workplaces, but workplaces that are driven by technology to help employees meet their emotional and physical needs. These are some of the needs the intelligent buildings in Europe, Asia and America are meeting.
In Africa, there are traces of use of technology in Facilities Management. Chief of these technology is the Computerized Facilities Management System (CAFM) – using technologies such as Planon, Achibus, etc. Also, organizations like Alpha Mead Facilities have developed and deployed a home-grown application called Eye-on-Site – an application, which according to the Managing Director of the company, Wole Olufore, has reduced cost of unplanned repairs for the customer by up to 80%.
These technologies have been reported to have drastically improved occupants’ experience, reduce escalations and breakdown of critical equipment; and has introduced great transparency to the Facilities Management cost processes. However, none of these smart solutions is intelligent enough to humanize the workplace, interact with occupants, or directly increase productivity.
Despite the successes recorded by these smart solutions adopted by the FM companies in Africa, the truth remains that technology will change the roles of FM from the current preventive and reactive maintenance to predictive operations led by high dependence on data analytical skills, process automation expertise and even application development.
With tech-driven global brands gradually finding their way into Africa, there is consequent increase in the demand for sophistication in both building design skills, management capacity and operations competence; and for Facilities Management to rise to the global FM standard for data-driven operations, it must develop the right capacity to either add value to existing data or create a system for collecting, analyzing and interpreting data for operational decisions.
Finally, as more sophisticated buildings enter the market, FM must not just rise to the occasion with improved skills, it must equally respond to the challenge with development of relevant technology applications that can contribute to increased asset lifecycle, improved occupier experience and better business performance.