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The future is bright the future is technology

It has been nearly six years since I moved to Dubai to manage FSI Middle East and I have to say I continue to enjoy the challenges the region offers. It is amazing, very dynamic and fast paced! If you get chance take a look at an old picture of Dubai or Qatar and compare the landscape to an up to date picture of the same locale. It will certainly reinforce how facilities management has gone from virtually nothing to an established industry which is continuing to quickly grow and mature.

Expo 2020 is focussing minds. We recently sponsored and attended the fourth MEFMA Confex: Smart Technology, Smart Cities, Smarter FM. The theme of the conference was very on trend and on point. With increased awareness of property quality and the advent of initiatives such as the MEFMA Star Rating System, technology is becoming more and more a key enabler. FM providers, owners and developers in this region are increasingly getting on board and using technology to control costs and operate their buildings more efficiently.

We are also seeing a move towards outsourcing soft and hard services with building owners retaining control of their data through the use of in-house CAFM software systems. More and more asset collection and audits are being performed using workforce mobility software; FSI GO is currently being used for this purpose on various small and large projects in this region. And it doesn't stop there! There is a move to include FM in the design and build stages. The premise behind that is to ensure that the owner, at the handover stage has all the information needed to operate the building efficiently.

This is very much on trend in Europe and also coming this way. In the UK, where the government has mandated the use of BIM by 2016, FSI has been helping to provide practical advice and define the data sets required from the model for the operation of the buildings, post construction. It is still early days but Dubai Municipality mandated BIM on their projects last year and we have been asked by certain government entities in the region if we can assist them in defining FM requirements pre-construction. BIM is coming and we are BIM ready.  

It wouldn't be fair to elaborate on trends in the FM Industry without including service providers. The pressure is on to meet demanding client expectations and increasingly detailed measurement of contractual commitments through structured SLAs and KPIs. For this purpose service providers are also investing in technology and improving their processes to provide a quality and efficient workforce whom their customers can rely upon. There is also a push towards output rather than input based contracts.  

At present service contracts in the region are more often than not based on headcount and input specifications. However there is a slow evolution and it is a matter of changing the clients' mind-set to realise that as long as quality is maintained service providers should have the freedom to decide how many staff to employ and manage to provide the service. The use of technology has proven this can be done.      

Overall, trends in facilities management are all pointing to a positive outcome for the industry. Whether it be for the owner operator, service or technology provider we all stand to prosper. It is a potential win win situation for all.