by Aanchal Singh, Frost & Sullivan Energy & Environment Analyst — May 2016 — Technology is ubiquitous. Cloud-based functionalities have led to increased transmission of data and information instantaneously, anytime and anywhere. This trend is depicting a growing shift to meet the mobile needs of facilities management. Workers are on the move and in order to access systems and information online, facility managers are increasingly using mobile apps resulting in easy accessibility to networks and seamless functioning of all business operations across facilities.
The past few years have seen a clear change in the way employees work; the concept of virtual workplace is growing at a rapid face. Simultaneously, the evolution of the telecommunications industry has been the medium of growth for facility managers adopting increased use of mobile infrastructure for work purposes. Frost and Sullivan analysis indicates that laptops are the most used technology, but this is expected to decline significantly over the next two years, while smart phones are forecast to grow by 30 percent. Increased adoption of mobile solutions is creating an avenue for facility managers to remotely interface with facilities or locate any maintenance issues with the help of remote monitoring features just from their phones. Hence, the focus on virtual business operations is on the rise amongst facility managers and building owners.
Clearly facility managers are adopting new ways of conducting business and providing services to stay competitive in an increasingly global marketplace. They are trying to boost productivity and lower operation costs. Frost and Sullivan conducted a survey of more than 200 CXOs, the results showed that 65 percent of respondents surveyed reported that as many as 50 percent of their employees are virtual, and in 20 percent of companies, more than 75 percent of employees are virtual workers.
This unified form of communication amongst several facility managers and employers ensures placing or receiving any work orders or maintenance calls especially important for traveling managers. Some of the core benefits of adopting a mobile infrastructure for facility managers are:
Core benefits of virtual and connected workplace
Reporting and Monitoring:
As workplaces are becoming virtual, managing field teams is gradually becoming more efficient. For example, if a facility technician or a manager is working in the field and a work order is generated nearby; it can be easily viewed by the technician through an app. The technician can put in the information, provide status of the request and work order, and can send updates instantly. Mobility will play a key role in the future of work. As connected workplaces are becoming more data centric, portable work experiences will simultaneously increase. Therefore, new business models revolving around connected buildings and facilities will drive workplace efficiencies and cost effectiveness
Data Collection and Analytics:
Next generation of cloud networking and mobile infrastructure have many benefits for facility owners. Integration of transformational technologies into facilities can result in energy and cost savings, real time monitoring and control, predictive and preventive maintenance. With the use of smartphone or other mobile tools, facility managers can collect data for operations, equipment, and work orders contracts. With this instant information share, it allows for faster decision making, as well as the elimination of additional paper work that can further delay the operational processes.
Expedited Business Operations
Mobile infrastructure and connected workplace has driven labor efficiency as well. In a typical facility, day to day business operations require facility managers or technicians to be in the office to get service requests and work orders. Similarly, the supervisors are required to be physically present to approve a request in order to assign it to a technician. All this can be easily avoided and the entire process can be streamlined by having a mobile app, where a technician can receive the work order on the go by just accessing the app and updating the status. On the other hands, facilities’ supervisors can approve the request on the go. This not only expedites the entire process, but also saves costs.
Mobile infrastructure may have its own set of challenges and not fully erase obstacles facility managers face, but the benefits associated with remote monitoring and virtual work place will offer value propositions that enhance business productivity and profitability to facility managers.
 Frost & Sullivan Research Service; “Connected work- Enabling technologies for the Future workplace.”
 Frost & Sullivan Research Service; “How to solve a virtual workplace.”