Preparing Facility Managers for the Digital Transformation in Buildings

In an article for Realcomm EDGE, Navigant says the role of the facility manager will grow more complex as buildings become more networked

The building of tomorrow is expected to be fully digital, fully instrumented, and fully networked. And as a building transitions, so should its operators, according to Navigant.

In an article for Realcomm EDGE, Noah Goldstein, director at Navigant, said the traditional role of a facility manager has been to keep the lights on, keep the building comfortable, and to manage power outages, legacy equipment, and upgrades to IT, software, and equipment. Today, facility managers are also increasingly responsible for applied sustainability and reporting to the C-suite, and tomorrow, the role will likely include dealing with apps, more data streams, and incorporating more sensors and new communication technologies.

But with more facility managers currently over the age of 70 than under the age of 30, there are concerns that the workforce could be challenged by IT, the internet of things (IoT), and the new modes of managing data and buildings.

Goldstein said that not all facility managers are alike and that some will adapt easier than others, but the focus should be on preparation.

"If the building of tomorrow will be advanced like a jet fighter plane and not like a classic car, then we need to address the pilots," he said. "What can be done to get them, and their buildings, prepared for the future?"

Goldstein shared four tips:

  1. Examine staff's capabilities and share the findings with the industry to understand colleagues' views of technology and digital solutions.
  2. Invest in the education of facility managers to help them grow into their new roles and ensure a gradual transition to a digital building.
  3. Reposition facility managers as loT mavens to high school and college graduates that may not see facility management as an exciting field.
  4. Identify and solve legacy problems in building technology sooner rather than later — companies that figure out how to retrofit and upgrade commercial building automation systems the fastest and cheapest will likely win big.

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