With technology changing how buildings are managed, what should FMs do?

by Brianna Crandall — March 2, 2018 — Technology has emerged as a pivotal focus for many organizations, firms and professional bodies. While it is certain that innovation will trigger a disruption in property/facilities management, how organizations adapt to this disruption is uncertain.

The U.K.-based international real estate accreditation organization the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently hosted a series of discussions between thought leaders to consider how the property/facilities management industry is changing with the advancement of technology, and produced a summary of the proceedings.

The discussions tackled wide-ranging topics, but three themes emerged as central to the issue: professionalism, adoption of standards, and the competition for skilled workers.

Toby Dodd, Cushman & Wakefield, remarked:

Real estate is undergoing a tectonic shift, with professionally trained and equipped talent defining success in this new environment.

As data entry and repetitive tasks are increasingly automated, the role of the property or facilities manager will evolve to focus on human skills that cannot be automated for firms to continue to provide value to clients, says RICS.

Clint Kissoon, academic chair, George Brown College, stated:

Interpersonal skills, professional skills, advisory skills; technology cannot replace these.

Advancement in technology will reshape the market, putting increased emphasis on the adoption of standards to ensure any data collected is applied according to good judgment and according to industry ethics, adds RICS.

John Hughes, partner, Hemson Consulting and RICS president, noted:

The role of standards and being a professional is becoming more and more important.

RICS points out that the required skills of the trade are evolving. It is essential that professionals keep up to date with industry shifts and upgrade their skills as required.

Roger Flather, former head of Valuation, BlackRock, added:

An employee will need to be much more sophisticated in terms of interpreting what is coming out of an automated valuation which is perhaps five to 10 years away.

Confidence through professional standards

Screenshot of city street overlaid with software

RICS launched a Technology Affiliate Programme to increase awareness and adoption of technology in the real estate and built environment sectors. Image courtesy RICS

In response to the rapid advancement in technology, RICS has taken steps to bring confidence to the markets it serves. To prepare professionals for the change brought about by new technologies, RICS has:

  • Introduced new data and technology competencies as part of the group’s Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) — the practical training and experience which, when combined with academic qualifications, leads to full RICS membership;
  • Launched a thought leadership program to share insight on the impact of data and technology on the industry;
  • Launched a Technology Affiliate Programme to increase awareness and adoption of technology in the real estate and built environment sectors (see the TAP slideshow and video);
  • Welcomed a director of Data Standards on board. The director will support the growth of technology by ensuring the organization’s standards can be appropriately applied in software and applications.

The summary of the round-table discussion, Technology as the catalyst for change: What should you do about it?, is available for free download from the RICS Web site. For more information, click on the program links above or contact RICS at: techaffiliate@rics.org.