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What the New Social Media FM Apps Mean for Clients and End Users


09/12/19 | Sally Wotton

For several years, smartphones and apps have been growing as a key interface for facilities management (FM) professionals to feed data into computer-aided facility management (CAFM) systems, replacing the need for dedicated data-recording devices, which used to be the industry standard.

These apps are allowing end users to gain access to FM systems and benefit from a direct connection to the providers. Finally, the FM service is on the same level as the end users' social media, music and message apps, providing an immediate personal connection.

Imagine having access to simple apps to order food, report problems and book rooms, among many other things. Imagine being able to customise these apps so the outsourced FM provider's details are highly visible. Adding this consumer-friendly access to CAFM systems can do much more than offer wider-reaching, faster mechanisms for reporting FM issues.

Providing access via an app will encourage entire building communities to contribute to the success of the facilities they occupy and, by allowing these apps to be branded for the FMs, end users will associate the service with the named provider.

The Socialisation of FM

FSI's approach has been to champion single-purpose apps rather than one all-encompassing 'Your FM' app. The logic behind this approach is to eliminate the notion that a user must enter a separate and complicated 'FM world' to affect a transaction. Gamification incentives could also be used; for example, reporters of issues may be given loyalty rewards for, say, every tenth report received.

The Future

Making FM services accessible through apps has the potential to unshackle FM from the humble desktop computer, connecting future success to faster-moving hardware and software developments in the mobile world. These include a link to voice interaction hardware and the latest intelligent assistants, such as Amazon Echo ("Alexa, book the conference room for tomorrow morning"), which provide considerable potential for influencing how FM services will be offered in years to come.

Apps are replacing the traditional ways of providing FM, just as drones have changed how buildings are surveyed. Crucially, these apps will recognise all of the stakeholders who contribute to the success of the site and the organisations that occupy it.

Finally, there's the potential for newly empowered end users to feel better disposed to the organisations for which they work and from whom new influencing power has been given. This can all feed into a potentially raised profile for the wider FM function.

Nick Suthers is Region Manager at FSI APAC, producers of the Concept Advantage suite of user-focused apps, connecting FSI's Concept Evolution CAFM solution to your business ecosystem.

Read the article in Facilities Perspectives magazine: