Unlocking the Role of Big Data in Facilities Management

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Click to learn more about author Ray Brosnan.

Facilities management is a broad discipline that involves the management and optimization of a business’ environment, property, equipment, and people to achieve maximum process efficiency, personnel comfort, and organizational productivity. Big data, on the other hand, refers to the large-scale collection of relevant data by an organization and processing it to find information that can be developed into actionable insights. Through proper implementation, big data can have a significant positive impact on an organization’s facilities management processes.

Benchmarking Energy Use

For most businesses, especially larger corporations or businesses involved in manufacturing, energy represents one of the more costly expenditure items every month. Without analytical help, it is difficult to determine whether a business is wasting its energy resources. With proper big data implementation, a company can collect several data points regarding energy use by different processes, buildings, and other facilities. These can be compared, through analysis, to how other processes and buildings are utilizing their energy. Insights gained from this can enable a business to better plan its energy consumption and to cut down on any wastage, thus saving the company in terms of operational expenditure.

Forecasting Equipment Failure

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Catastrophic failure, especially when it comes to mechanical processes, rarely occurs without warning signs. Before the metaphorical fire occurs, there will usually be some smoke. Big data uses every available collectable variable and in-depth analysis to identify trends and patterns. It offers the best chance for organizations to determine the data that indicates that a certain piece of equipment is on the verge of failure. The importance of forecasting equipment failure cannot be overemphasized. For starters, it is much more affordable to pay for preventive maintenance than to pay for repairs after catastrophic failure. Also, when key equipment has experienced failure, whole processes can grind to a halt for extended periods of time, which affects a business’ productivity and profitability.

Identifying the Best Technological Solutions

Big data is all about collecting data from every available source. In an organization, this can include competitor performance and employee feedback. These two sources of data are important when it comes to determining the suitability of the existing technological infrastructure. Facilities management is not just about maintaining the existing facilities, it also involves matching personnel and processes with the best equipment to support their effectiveness. Big data is very well-paced to carry out a needs analysis, through data analysis, and compare it to the existing technological infrastructure. By finding the best technological solutions, a business can ensure that all of its processes are being effectively supported. This, naturally, leads to increased productivity and even better employee satisfaction scores. The capital costs of upgrading the existing technology are usually easily recouped through the long-term profitability boost achieved by increasing productivity.

Achieving Sustainability

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Sustainability is one of those corporate buzzwords that every organization uses regardless of its commitment levels to understanding and achieving all that the term entails. In a world that is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, all companies want to identify as “sustainable” to appeal to their target market. Sustainability can best be defined as a commitment to responsibly use resources such that future generations can still meet their needs. For most organizations, this involves eliminating wastage, being more environmentally conscious, and switching to renewable sources of energy. All of this is extremely hard to achieve without the analytical capabilities offered by big data. Big data is especially competent when it comes to understanding resource and energy needs to reduce wastage.

Supporting Productivity

Supporting productivity can be thought of as the primary function for all facilities managers, and big data enables them in this pursuit. As we have already touched upon, facilities managers are tasked with creating the right environment to facilitate an organization’s personnel and processes. There are so many variables that determine productivity. They include space, equipment, personnel, inputs, finances, and energy. Each of these variables has its own set of influences. For example, when it comes to equipment, an organization needs to have an adequate amount of equipment, equipment suited for the roles tasked to them, and equipment that is affordable as per the business’s finances. There are so many data points to consider to determine the ideal environment that will result in an organization’s optimal productivity. Big data, as a service, is specifically designed to handle these challenges.

Improving Collaboration

One of the challenges that most businesses face is having too many departments or processes operating autonomously. When all departments within an organization work together, the business is more likely to achieve its strategic targets. Big business “forces” all sections to be aware of each other by collecting a diverse range of data. It enables an organization to determine how different departments and processes impact other parts of the business. By fostering interconnectivity, an organization will adopt a collaborative spirit, which will have long-term performance benefits.

The Takeaway

Big data as a concept can have a positive impact on an organization’s facilities management. As it collects all data points for analysis, it can be used to determine energy use, to facilitate forecasting, to better match processes with the right technology, and to achieve sustainability. Productivity and collaboration are other facilities management elements that stand to benefit from implementing big data in an organization.

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