The Promise of Technology for the Business of Facilities Management

By, Marc Balzamo, CEO/Founder of Fexa

As a long-time veteran of the facilities management industry, I have been on both sides of the table as both a consumer and provider of technology. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the possibilities that new technology brings to solving real challenges for the industry.  

Marc Balzamo on FM Technology Adoption

Technology alone does not create value in the business.  When newer technologies initially become available, there will always be some barriers to adoption at scale.  In this article, I share my perceptions of the promise and challenges we face as an industry.

There is a lot of buzz around how technology can help facilities management and asset management for multi-location businesses.  And, as a long-time veteran of the facilities management industry, I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the possibilities.  At Fexa we are seeing the measurable results our customers are getting by leveraging technology available today in the Fexa platform. 

As I look out more broadly in the industry, I draw on my experience within the industry and from the perspective of being both a consumer and provider of technology solutions.  I bring a deep appreciation for the real challenges and opportunities faced by facilities management, operations management, and maintenance providers.

Technology alone does not create value in the business.  When newer technologies initially become available, there will always be some barriers to adoption at scale. Over time,  as the industry embraces the technology, those barriers to adoption are overcome.  An ecosystem of both adjacent capabilities and different types of partners tends to surface over time that supports broader adoption of the technology as it matures.

While I am very bullish on technology that is currently available and maturing for our industry, I am also pragmatic about the need to meet customers where they are.  Different customers tend to be at different phases of technology adoption across the facilities and asset management spectrum.  At Fexa, we work to bring our fundamental understanding of facilities and asset management challenges and opportunities to the engagement so that we can help our customers really put the technology to work for them to achieve measurable outcomes in efficiency improvements and cost savings as a result of the technology adoption.  And, because we work with both the retailers or operators who orchestrate and consume management and maintenance services as well as the providers who deliver those services, we have a comprehensive end-to-end perspective on the business.

The Facilities Management Technology Adoption Landscape

We are seeing customer adoption maturity take a number of stages that look something like the image that follows here.

The opportunities for significant savings in both time and money to businesses are available today.  Taking even the first few steps of adopting technology that is mature, available, and affordable today can make a huge difference for facilities management and asset management teams looking to provide greater value to the business..

So when you hear about new technologies that seem like science fiction, know that they are much closer than you think to being a reality.  However, also, be aware that there is a hype factor and buzz that are sometimes unwarranted as some providers use them to allure customers and investors.

As a long time veteran in this business, here is my take on the promises and maturity of several technologies based on customer adoption readiness that I’ve observed.  The environment is exciting and dynamic, and surprisingly to many, as Covid 19 ravaged the globe, it actually had a silver lining of accelerating the efforts of many multi-location businesses to develop and act upon their digital transformation plans at the next level. 

Phases of Facilities Management Technology Adoption

Smart Automation for Facilities and Asset Management

Smart Automation

What is it?  

Smart Automation is the ability to tap into data and business logic within a software solution to determine the next step in automating a process.

How it Benefits the Work of Facilities Management.

Provides nearly immediate time savings and increases compliance, consistency, and overall quality of work.

Customer Adoption Maturity.

Ramping Fast.

Biggest Barriers to Overcome.

Smart Automation in Facilities and Asset Management Example Use Cases

There are countless use cases for this technological capability for facilities management and asset management solutions.  

Just some examples include:

Automating Facilities Maintenance Dispatch According to Work Attributes

Using business logic based on classification of work, location of work, and urgency to automatically dispatch a particular provider that offers the best cost/performance for that specific scenario.

Automating Compliance Gates Before Invoices Are Submitted for Work Performed

Requiring adherence to a specific set of criteria before a provider can submit an invoice for work completed.  Typical examples might include a requirement to attach a photo of before/after work and invoice costs by category across parts/labor.

Automating Vendor Dispatched Based on In-Warranty Status Scenario

Automating the assignment of any reactive work associated with an in-warranty asset to the appropriate vendor, avoiding unnecessary expense. 


Artificial Intelligence for Facilities and Asset Management

Artificial Intelligence

What is it?  

Artificial Intelligence is the use of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. (Source) 

How it Benefits the Work of Facilities Management.

There are extensive opportunities for more sophisticated asset management of high dollar assets.  Ultimately, AI will be employed to accelerate and optimize day-to-day decisions and trigger actionable next steps.

Customer Adoption Maturity.

Still new, but ramping with specific use cases often as partnerships between OEM and large-scale purchasers.

Biggest Barriers to Overcome.

A study performed in 2020 by Deloitte, noted that many businesses still face challenges in adopting AI due to challenges with critical predecessors to exploiting AI — data hygiene and data management.

Artificial Intelligence in Facilities and Asset Management Example Use Cases

Artificial intelligence has received broad adoption with impressive outcomes for many industries today.  Contrary to the images of cyborgs and science fiction, AI is employed every day to provide you with personalized experiences – whether it be through your latest google search, or the ads that fill your feed in social media, or a better experience with a call center based on speech recognition and language translations. 

In facilities maintenance and management, the use cases are quite varied. Just some examples include: 

Sentiment Analysis

A relatively simple application is around sentiment analysis in post work completion reviews – alerting facilities teams to areas where user dissatisfaction was particularly high so that they can quickly address the situation.

Visual Inspection

Sophisticated use of images and AI based visual inspection are increasingly present in manufacturing environments and will likely be extended to support maintenance and repair decisions in the future.

Speech Recognition

Speech recognition can be integrated into facilities and asset management workflow platforms to eliminate cumbersome manual entry of status updates, as example, for field technicians.

Machine Learning for Facilities and Asset Management

Machine Learning

What is it?  

Machine learning is actually an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed by humans. 

How it Benefits the Work of Facilities Management.

Benefits include (if the algorithms are properly trained) continuous improvements in efficiency, efficacy, and outcomes for facilities management and asset management processes.

Customer Adoption Maturity.

Still new, but ramping among the most digitally sophisticated companies.

Biggest Barriers to Overcome.

  • Time and investment required for data collection and funding the initiatives.
  • A recent study also noted remaining barriers of maintaining device security and device onboarding, testing, and certification.

Machine Learning in Facilities and Asset Management Example Use Cases

Tremendous promise and likely new business models will surface for both facilities management teams and their service providers tapping into machine learning.

Some examples include:

Extending the LifeCycle and Performance of High Value Assets

For high value assets there is potentially significant value in predictive analytics and algorithm based maintenance using sensors, IoT (internet of things), and machine learning.

Automating Smart Building Adaptation to Environmental Factors

As buildings and spaces become more broadly equipped with sensors for everything from temperature control, healthy airflow assessment, stability sensors, and more – the ability to optimize the environment dynamically offers opportunities for enhancing customer experience and optimizing costs.

Highly Specified Proactive Maintenance Alerts for High Value Assets

Predictive maintenance alerts derived from dynamic recipes for every unique scenario of conditions in a specific supplier’s equipment offering Facilities maintenance teams real-time recommendations for specific proactive maintenance.

It Will Take a Community

As noted, I’m both bullish and invested in making sure we bring the best technology to our customers with our modern and innovative Fexa Platform.  At the same time, I understand that the comprehensive solution for our customers will require a community of partners working together. 

I look forward to hearing from partners – those we have today and those we have not yet met – on ideas and ways we can collaborate to benefit our shared community of facilities managers and providers.  

My Advice: Keep Moving Forward on Your Journey to Technology Adoption

No matter where you are on the continuum, my advice is to keep moving forward.  Take advantage of knowledgeable partners like Fexa who see your success as their success.  

We would love to work with you and your team to better understand where you are on your journey and identify ways that Fexa could help you immediately save significant time and money while moving your business into the 21st century!


Want to see what modern and innovative software for facilities and asset management could do for you?

Want to see what modern and innovative software for facilities and asset management could do for you?


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