Expectations are high. The European Facility Management (FM) market is expected to increase by 14.1% per year until 2023. Countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom (projected increase of 12.5% per year), France (estimated annual increases of 16%), Russia, Spain (13.2% per year) and Italy are leading the way. But why is the growth of the Facility Management market so inevitable? 


Facility Management strives as a baseline, the expectation for FM is to manage costs without compromising workers’ experience. In other words, to respond to companies that need to be increasingly efficient, both financially and in regards to energy, while satisfying increasingly multicultural and intergenerational teams. Some people sum this up in two words: “smart workplace“. Excellent outlining, which we can’t argue with.


If you’re satisfied with this answer, you can stop reading here. But if you want to know how this “smart workplace” will work, keep going. We promise we won’t leave anything out: climate change, Artificial Intelligence, digital building modelling, blockchain. They will all change your work in the very near future and are in the major trends and challenges for Facility Managers in 2020.

1. Team monitoring and centralization of information.

Some of the biggest challenges for the British facility managers are tracking the tasks of each technician and dealing with the bureaucracy. The problem, in most cases, is common: the team does not use a management software, or uses inappropriate software.  Even in the United States, in a study made by Plant Engineering, it suggests that 53% of companies use a CMMS, which means that 47% use other means, such as Excel or paper.


Here at Infraspeak we are not enemies of spreadsheets (not always, at least!), but perhaps it is relevant to tell a short story about Excel (little warning: don’t read before going to bed). In 2013, JP Morgan lost 6 billion dollars due to an Excel error. This was not the only case. Excel sheets are not effective enough in storing information and centralizing various aspects of a team’s operation. 


Relying on Excel to organize Facility Management tasks is not a viable solution in 2020. Our heart breaks bit by bit each time we have to remember that there are maintenance management systems and infrastructures that your technicians can have on their mobile phones and use all day long. Facility Managers who do not use adequate management software are at risk of seeing their competitors gain ground by 2020.


2. Increased outsourcing in Facility Management

Another major trend in Facility Management is the increase in outsourcing. In other words, more and more companies are outsourcing these tasks – already in 2017, the outsourcing of FM tasks reached 50.5% of global turnover, although in the European market the FM in-house was still slightly higher. Outsourcing is a way of dodging unexpected breakdowns, make up for labor shortages and cutting costs.


It is no coincidence that one of the things that contributed to the increase in outsourcing in Europe was austerity. The maintenance of public buildings and infrastructure, hospitals and schools are increasingly dependent on external companies, as there is no resourcefulness to hire more full-time professionals. On the other hand, technological advances have also made it easier to control everything from a distance. You can access real-time data via the cloud, report malfunctions and track the progress of each task. And the icing on the cake: that remote control does not have high costs.


3. Big data and data analysis.

For years, big data has been one of the great buzzwords in the world of Facility Management. Finally, with the appearance of increasingly advanced technology and thanks to the Internet of Things, the promise has been fulfilled. But those who think that the subject “gets fixed” with the collection of more data than ever before, are disappointed.


Big data also brings added challenges to Facility Management. Having too much information requires knowing how to filter it, process it and analyze it. It is necessary to distinguish what is “noise” from what brings us true insights on how to manage each asset. This is the first challenge to deal with big data in 2020. The second is to store all the data we collect securely to ensure customer privacy and comply with all data protection laws.


4. Experience of the teams and clients.

Technology must work in our favor – not the other way around. One of the major trends of recent years is to privilege the user experience with more and more user-friendly and intuitive interfaces. It is important that your employees feel that they are not “buried” in bureaucracy and that they can organize their own daily schedules easily.


Likewise, it is essential that your customers can easily report malfunctions and request assistance. Before you adopt any management system or other new tools, consider whether it only serves you or whether it really benefits the people whom you work with. Remember the watchwords: smart workplace and well-being. It’s no coincidence that the workplace of the future is one of the main topics for the Facility Management conferences in 2020.


5. Replace obsolete and/or poorly maintained equipment

We have a certain idea that what’s good “lasts forever.” Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. If so, our favorite TV Shows wouldn’t drag back in time with plot twists worthy of soap opera; there would be no love stories ending in dramatic divorces and maybe not even Botox would have been discovered – a whole alternative universe!


With buildings, the exact same thing happens. No matter how good the original materials and technology are, time ends up playing tricks on them. A Plant Engineering study in 2018 found that the main cause of unplanned downtime is the age of the devices. In 44% of cases, obsolete equipment was the cause of downtime – so replacing “decrepit” equipment is certainly a challenge for 2020.


Begin by conducting a risk assessment to determine which assets you need to replace first. In the case of a building, facility managers should start thinking about major restorations when they reach the 30-year mark, particularly in terms of roofing, plumbing, lighting, lifts, heating and cooling systems, windows and smart systems.

6. BIM & Facility Management

BIM stands for “Building Information Modelling”. Simply put, we can describe BIM as a digital modelling tool that allows builders and architects to have a complete view of the project and collect all the information about the building – blueprints, areas, used materials, etc. It’s not something new, but it’s a technology that we’re only now putting into practice in the world of Facility Management.


In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, it is already mandatory to have BIM models for all public buildings since 2016. But new buildings are a minority. It’s in old buildings, which need more maintenance, that information modelling can be most useful for Facility Management tasks. A study of 32 university buildings in the UK found that linking BIM and FM improves the efficiency of maintenance teams because it’s faster to access information and detect the problem.


Example: imagine that a wall and skirting board of a certain space need to be painted. Do you know what the reference for the paint used in this room is, to make it look like the other walls? What was the treatment given to the wood in the skirting board? Is it going to be necessary to drag furniture to do the remodeling? Does your team know exactly where it needs to be refurbished? If you associate BIM modeling with work orders, your team will have all the answers.


7. Blockchain

Like BIM, Blockchain is not a new technology. It came with the first cryptocurrencies and, in essence, it is a “chain” of encrypted information that cannot be littered – that’s what ensures that the buying and selling of coins is reliable. For the time being, the use of Blockchain remains limited mainly to the world of cryptocurrencies, but there is no shortage of ideas to apply this technology in industry, retail, the hotel sector and, of course, in infrastructure management.


The goal is for everything to be traceable, from property transfers to system activities to the source of everything we buy. In other words, the entire service order process would be recorded in a transparent and effective way. It is possible that blockchain technology will integrate with maintenance software in the near future… perhaps as early as 2020.


8. Sustainability & Energy Efficiency 

Achieving greater energy efficiency is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges in the immediate future. On the one hand, energy losses contribute to waste and increase our ecological footprint. On the other hand, they raise the costs of companies for heating and cooling buildings.


CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) software, sensors and the Internet of Things enable the automation of the temperatures at which heating is switched on and off, the reduction of resources in rooms that are not being used, the decreasing of lighting costs and even defining the frequency indicated for maintenance and cleaning actions, according to the usual use of each asset.


The aim is for all buildings to have a neutral carbon footprint – as is already the case at The Edge, the headquarters of Deloitte in Amsterdam, which applies the Internet of Things to be the “most sustainable building in the world”. The lighting system is connected via Ethernet to sensors that record the brightness, occupancy of each room, humidity, temperature, and CO2 content. It’s not a distant future or science fiction: it’s something that’s already within our reach.


As we said at the opening of the article, expectations for 2020 are high. It is important to keep up with the trends and take the necessary measures to overcome the challenges ahead. Talk to one of our experts and find out how Infraspeak can boost your operation and help you overcome these challenges!