David Karpook and Nancy Johnson Sanquist 2017-09-14 09:17:55
THE NEW INTEGRATED WORKPLACE MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS enabling a new relationship between people, process and place File this under “fake news” — the death of integrated workplace management solutions (IWMS), which has been predicted for years, simply isn’t true. In fact, the opposite has proven true of some of the best systems. Think about it: Many painters and writers did their best work in their mature years (sadly, not always true of rock stars). This is also true of IWMS, which has had time to mature (at least within the companies that have continued to invest in R&D). It has taken an expanded role in organizations — offices, co-working centers, college campuses, labs, airports, hospitals and stores — as it supports more functions than traditional facilities and real estate professionals. The authors of this article have been involved in IWMS from the beginning, when CAFM was joined with real estate functionality, and Mike Bell christened this “IWMS” in the first Magic Quadrant (MQ) in 2004. Through the last decade, we have seen IWMS go from four technology functions (project management, real estate/portfolio optimization — including lease administration — as well as space and maintenance management) to five. Sustainability was added in 2011, and other applications followed, including acknowledging resource planning, the Nexus of Forces (the rise of the cloud, mobility, analytics, big data and social media) and lease accounting. In the last three years, IWMS has moved out of its asset management home and into the digital workplace, where it remains today. IWMS systems are expanding their reach in business and institutional environments, as they are now servicing the entire organization with their mobile and self-service applications. While IT and HR have always been involved in IWMS systems, new types of users are now joining the mix, including accounting, due to the regulatory changes required in the new lease accounting rules for both real estate and equipment. One IWMS platform has even evolved to become a core application to the business. It morphed into a system designed for service providers and is now in the testing phase. At the same time, disruptive technologies add depth and complexity to this new phase of IWMS, and they allow for new connections and interactions. The “I” in IWMS — integration — has long been its most important aspect in terms of guaranteeing high quality, definitive data and coordination of work. In the I2WMS world, the power of the “I” extends beyond institutional walls to include new interactions and intersections between people, place and processes that make this a living, breathing, fourth-generation powerhouse. THE NEW DEFINITION OF I2WMS In order to look forward, we have to look back at the origins of IWMS. It emerged as a class of enterprise management systems focused on internal data and internal processes. Although the scope within its boundaries was broad, it was a contained system determined by what was directly pertinent to buildings, land and the activities performed on them. Interaction with external data and processes, while possible, was limited by the difficulties of integration with other systems — a challenging task in the late 1990s, when IWMS was emerging. It is important to remember that migration to “the web” was a gradual and painstaking process for most IWMS vendors. In the early 2000s, internet functionality was introduced in a spotty, piecemeal fashion by most of these companies. By mid-decade, whether a vendor had a “web version” available — and whether a solution was “web enabled” or “web based” — had become a distinctive factor in system selection. Web services, XML, SOAP and other new technologies had a lot to do with the transition of IWMS systems to web solutions and to a related development: hosted applications. These technologies made it feasible to move data to and from applications whose interface was a “thin client” or, a little later, a “web client.” (It’s astonishing to remember how many terms like this came in and out of fashion in those early years of the internet.) The only data available to the IWMS at that time was data entered directly into the system by keystroke or mass upload. Recent technologies have exploded the notion that applications must or should rely only on internal information. The cloud, mobile applications, social networks, analytics, big data, the Internet of Things and other developments have made it not only easier, but it is now expected that applications can share and act on information from a variety of sources. No business solutions exist in isolation. A company’s technologies form an ecosystem that now extends far beyond corporate boundaries and into the broader environment. We have always known, for example, that information about weather, traffic, public transportation, urban populations and the like are key to good real estate and facility management decision-making. I2WMS fosters an environment in which external information can be dealt with directly in the application framework. It removes the barriers that required navigation from one application to another to gain the information needed to resolve an issue. I2WMS has become more than a management system for internal data. By reaching out into the larger environment, it has become both a command center and a broker for exchange, aggregation, analysis and synthesis of diverse data that affect the built environment. People, process and place are at the center of this new I2WMS, and these new and evolving technologies are contributing to the transformation in our industry in myriad ways. CHANGING ROLES IN THE I2WMS WORLD Customer-centricity is the order of day, and it has changed the roles of the customer and the vendor in an I2WMS transaction. The end user can now buy the monthly use of a system (which is an easier purchase with less dependency on IT). At the same, time customers demand a longer-term relationship with the vendor, as they need a partner to become their “tech translator.” As Tom Friedman points out in his latest book, "Thank You for Being Late," we are living in an “age of acceleration,” and the end user has no time to keep up with new technologies. Nor do they have the skill set or time to design the right experiments to allow them to determine if disruptive technologies will make their lives easier. In turn, users work very closely with their vendors to create value clarity that will prove out the investment to upper management.1 This means the vendor takes on the role of the consultant and relationship manager and works with the customer to discover their business issues — everything from the strategies of the entire organization to the tactical processes of anyone who would interface with the I2WMS. After gathering this information, a hypothesis is created, which must be tested. Only after this analysis is conducted can the right implementation strategy (with the right mix of technologies) be designed for that organization, to solve their business issues. Another people-centric issue that changes is this advanced system requires technical skills in designing, implementing, maintaining and optimizing these integrations and interactions. Jobs like this require lifelong learning, and courses in these new technologies can be found online and in community colleges. Employers are getting more involved in advising learning institutions to provide them with technically trained staff, so you will see more and more of these types of training courses coming out of colleges and universities, often through certification programs. For an example of this, see what the IFMA Foundation’s Global Workforce Initiative is doing with the California Community Colleges. THE VALUE OF DATA AND WORKFLOW The management of a wide array of workplace processes — from site evaluations to lease negotiations to physical security to equipment repairs and personnel moves — is the hallmark and key value of traditional IWMS, and that only becomes stronger as we move into the I2WMS world, where more components of the physical environment are technology-enabled. Companies that experience costs and delays associated with redundant activities (or conflicts due to lack of transparency) understand that I2WMS can lead to significant savings of time and money. This extends beyond the boundaries of what is traditionally considered the FM/RE sphere. It spreads across the enterprise, affecting talent recruitment and retention, worker performance, product development time, speed to market and ultimately corporate earnings. Coordination among FM/RE processes has a traceable, core relationship to business imperatives. Issues of data quality and integrity, as well as system access and security, are paramount. In this light, it is important to realize that the processes within an organization are stored in systems as data, in what we call workflow. I2WMS solutions offer sophisticated management of access, visibility, change control and auditing. They perform a key function in ensuring the integrity and quality of information used in these processes. They also provide confidence that processes are built, executed and reviewed based on accurate and comprehensive information. Further, they create an environment where the impact of actions across domains can be tracked and understood — a key to streamlining operations. THE PHYSICAL BUILDING STILL MATTERS In May 2017, Sally Blount, dean of the Kellogg School of Management, published a blog post on LinkedIn explaining why physical architecture still matters.2 She describes why the school invested US $240 million in a 415,000-squarefoot Global Hub in an era when many pundits are predicting the irrelevance of physical campuses. “We invested because we are taking a long position on physical (but flexible) classrooms and on the hypothesis that universities will continue to endure as places of learning beyond the digital age (however long it may last and regardless of what comes next),” she wrote. I2WMS is the blending of the physical with the digital and has launched the concept of a “quantified building.”2 This means that any asset in a building can include an embedded sensor which records the actions and behavior of that piece of the building. It can monitor a weakening structural component or identify classroom and office underutilization. Or maybe the physical place has a 3D representation of it, called its digital twin, which also monitors the performance of the building in real time. An article appeared in the weekend Financial Times in July 2017 entitled “What we get wrong about technology.”3 It tells the story of how we and venture capitalists get excited about the latest and greatest technologies like the ones mentioned in this article. However, the most influential new technologies are often “humble and cheap,” and they do not appear in isolation. I2WMS will find itself interacting with more new technologies, which may be more humble and cheaper than the ones we are exploring today. Maybe, rather than wearing an expensive, uncomfortable mixed-reality device while inspecting a basement, there will only be a simple earpiece in a technician’s ear that retrieves the latest manufacturer’s instructions from the I2WMS system. With a voice-activated application, the earpiece can tell her exactly what to do to fix a broken device as the software sends equipment to her location by drone. In this emerging new relationship between people and technology, we say stay tuned. REFERENCES 1) Thull, Jeff, Mastering the Art of the Complex Sale. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2010, p. xxvi. 2) Jasper, Erik and Eric Teicholz, “The quantified building,” FMJ, March/April 2016. 3) Harford, Tim, “What we get wrong about technology,” Financial Times, July 8-9, p. 18. DAVID KARPOOK is Strategic Business Consultant for Planon Corporation, a leading provider of technology solutions for facility management and real estate. A 25-year industry veteran, he has managed workplace technology projects in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He was named 2016 Associate Member of the Year by IFMA and is chairman of IFMA’s Real Estate Advisory & Leadership community. Additionally, he has been a member of the IFMA Information Technology community and has worked with the IFMA Foundation’s Global Workforce Initiative. NANCY JOHNSON SANQUIST is VP of Global Strategic Marketing for Planon. She is an IFMA Fellow and AIA Associate and is currently Vice Chair for the IFMA Foundation where she is one of the founders of both the Global Workforce Initiative (GWI) and, in IFMA, the Workplace Evolutionary Community. She is a well-known speaker and author, including two IFMA Foundation books, Work on the Move (2014) and Work on the Move 2 (2016).
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