Who are the Innovators?

Who is stimulating change in the Built Environment?

Could it be Facilities Managers? – Or are they too distracted with identity?
Could it be the Property Agents? – Or are they too distracted with acquisition and market share?
Could it be our clients and customers? – Possibly (and not necessarily just the private sector).

At the recent Workplace Futures conference I was captivated with presentations from Microsoft, a HR Evangelist and Leesman. Although I remember the other presentations on the day were good, I will struggle to recall their subject matter just over one week on. What is that telling us?

Lots of questions….how about some answers Mike!

I’m not going to make any rash or negative statements about the overall state of the Built Environment sector as clearly there is an encouraging momentum, but want to focus purely on innovation and change.

Significant consolidation within the sector could be leading to a dearth in creativity as organisations are distracted by crunching businesses together and finding the right operating model. Having been through this process myself – it takes years to accomplish. This therefore feels like a good time to be an independent and offer best practice advice to clients and customers. Clearly the Business Process Outsourcing and IT Outsourcing markets are reaping the spoils with figures up according to latest research.

For the past five years I have had the honour of judging for British Institute of Facilities Managers (BIFM) in the Innovation in Systems and Technology category. I’m sure my fellow judges will agree that whilst we have had worthy winners each year, they have largely stood out as being obvious winners, amongst some other fairly uninspiring submissions. In 2015, who thinks that implementing an off the shelf Integrated Workplace Management System is innovative? (Or even designing one yourself!) Where are the MIN-KYU CHOIs of the Built Environment? Innovations that make you say: “I didn’t think that was possible?”

Ah! ‘But what about Building Information Modelling (BIM)?’ – I hear you say, ‘surely that is leading edge innovation?’ Yes! It’s great that we are linking the end-to-end built environment lifecycle with golden threaded data. But this has been a long time coming. I was using 3D CAD models with clash detection capability for How Engineering in the late 1980s. Why has it taken almost a quarter of a century for 3D models to be exploited in this way? Can I suggest that it’s GOV.UK and the Government’s Construction Strategy that is leading on this by mandating its use? So, on reflection, has the industry led this change in momentum? I say not.

Another example of best practice and a good news story (that is not spoken about enough in my view) is the way that Central Government, led by the Cabinet Office and the Efficiency & Reform Group have gone about making positive changes to the Crown Estate, following an ambitious strategic plan and making hundreds of millions of pounds of savings for the taxpayer year-on-year. (See which independent organisation is helping them later in this article.)

I’m sure that this year will be a bumper year for BIFM innovation in the use of Technology and Systems and perhaps we will welcome submissions from further afield – overseas and more broadly in the Built Environment space – recognising that like convergence in our sector, the boundaries of FM are blurring.

What provides me with hope is the way that my own company, CDS, and Leesman are working on a way of linking both People and Property Workplace Insight. This allows organisations to use a dashboard to see the link between quantitative measures of their property estate and the qualitative measures from people within the workplace. Answering Questions like: Are we focussing our CAPEX in the areas that will increase productivity? Are we creating the right workplace to attract and retain the best people? Do we need a workplace? Aggregation of multiple datasets that provides predictive and actionable insight.

Still not clear? Check out our Infographic on the right.

Author: Michael Stephens, Head of Asset Intelligence at CDS Digital

About CDS, Leesman and Asset Factory™

Asset Factory™ is a software service that allows you to manage the value, costs, risks and performance of your property, people and supply chain assets. It is simple to use and provides instant reporting insights from a secure and cost effective cloud based solution.

CDS’ experience in the Built Environment is substantial. The company is the primary designer and supplier of the nation’s property asset management database.

Therefore, CDS knows about the Built Environment and the data that drives the management of your Estate. CDS’ unique and innovative mobile dashboard solution aggregates multiple data sources from FM, Energy and Real Estate systems, coupled with data from Leesman’s over 85,000+ users, to establish a causal link between people and property.


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