Posted on 03/15/2017

Data analytics continues to gain strength as a driver of facilities management operations, and the “Internet of Things” (IoT) will be central to those developments. In a presentation to education facilities management leaders at the recent CAPPA Technology & Leadership Conference, Accruent’s industry experts discussed how the impacts of IoT on operations already can be seen in other industries, such as retail.

CAPPA Technology & Leadership Conference“The near future of facilities on college and university campuses will see blurring or blending of facilities management (FM) departments with information and technology systems (ITS) departments,” said David Handwork, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management at Arkansas State University, and a CAPPA member who attended the session. He added: “IoT deployment is already occurring, producing terabytes of metadata equally managed, shared and utilized between FM and ITS departments.”

The session opened with an overview of how the future state of facilities management depends on technologies that enable teams to take control of the scope of their real estate, facilities, and assets investments and expenses. Neha Shah, Product Marketing Manager with Accruent, outlined how the company’s model of “Shape, Drive, Manage and Control” allows customers to take advantage of the full suite of Accruent products, with each functional group within the facilities team (maintenance, space management, projects, and facilities capital planning) being provided the best-in-breed solution for their needs. This model relieves the marketplace dissatisfaction with “do-it-all” systems that ultimately lacks depth and a purpose-built technology architecture.

Patrick Lethert, Director of Product Marketing at Accruent, unpacked the common buzz and misperceptions around IoT. His overall message was that there are many service enhancement and cost reduction benefits that IoT systems can provide. Yet, implementing technology for technology’s sake is never the right approach. In these budget-constrained times, it is imperative to understand existing business processes, develop a strong case with clearly defined goals, and achieve complete cross-functional team alignment to ensure success.

Handwork noted that as high-level mini-processors like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Beaglebone drive technology market innovation, proliferation of Intelligence at the Device (IaD) will occur. “IoT is more than sensors collecting and transmitting data,” he added in comments about Accruent’s session. “It includes controlled and monitored devices with mini-processors embedded or added on. These devices calculate and execute logic at the micro level, then communicate pertinent actions or report data and issues to higher level Business Intelligence platforms. Centralized data repositories will be necessary for storing and cataloging not terabytes, but petabytes and exabytes of data produced by campus-wide facilities.”

Handwork, who is also on the Assets Subcommittee of APPA’s Total Cost of Ownership Standards Work Group, urged the larger CAPPA membership to contribute and participate in the industry’s ongoing efforts. Currently, industry standards are minimal or non-existent regarding standardization of data integration and management for facilities managers. “APPA is breaking into the standards world with APPA Standard 1000 Total Cost of Ownership,” said Handwork. “This and future standards will equip not only education facilities managers with data management framework, but universally all facilities managers. Future standards will be needed to ensure data security, integrity, and universal platform integration.”

NOTE: We'll continue this exploration of the emerging role of IoT and remote monitoring in facilities management at the Accruent User Forum in Vancouver, BC April 5-7. This popular FAMIS and VFA software user conference will feature a keynote presentation on IoT, followed by a group discussion.