by   |    |  Estimated reading time: 9 minutes  |  in IFS Cloud, Sustainability   |  tagged , , , ,

Mark Brewer, VP Service Industries at IFS, shares his insights for the Facilities Management (FM) sector through 2023…


Sustainability has now become a central theme in today’s built environment. From planning, to construction, to operation and maintenance throughout a facility’s lifetime, sustainability impacts multiple stakeholders.

In the face of increased competition and ever tighter margins for construction projects, many EPC (engineering, construction, procurement) organizations have entered the FM market in order to diversify their revenues. It’s easy to see why: Over a 40-year lifespan, a maintenance contract could be worth 20-100 per cent more than the original cost of the building. As contracting for outcomes becomes more common, construction and engineering companies are looking to extend their activity beyond building and delivering assets to managing complex but profitable performance-based contracts for operation and maintenance.

From a sustainability perspective, this is good news. If a construction company will also be operating and maintaining a building for its lifetime, it follows that they will design and build it in a way that delivers maximum efficiency, ensuring it is easy and cost-effective to operate, maintain and repair.

It also means that companies seeking to provide facility management services to building owners or operators are looking to digital technology such as IFS Cloud to help them understand whole-life costs and manage and model complex projects and built assets in the most sustainable way.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

According to research by Frost & Sullivan1, 40% of CO2 emissions, 75% of electricity consumption and around 35% of waste production comes, in fact, from our creation and use of buildings. These sobering statistics underline why we can expect, globally, to see a far greater enforcement of sustainability policies. This is not just about legislation. More and more, companies who are demonstrating credible Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance are being commercially rewarded – winning tenders and business contracts in preference to competitors who, from a sustainable practice perspective, are lagging behind.

In the same vein, I also believe we can expect to see an increasing number of consumers scrutinizing environmental and sustainability credentials when choosing which businesses and brands to purchase goods and services from. In a commoditized market, demonstrating a proven commitment to, say, using renewable energy could well become a brand differentiator.

Employees, too, will start to make choices. We are already at the stage where prospective employees are asking questions of potential employers’ CSR programs.

Monitoring and control

Increasingly, Facilities Management providers will look to technology to proactively monitor and control assets and environments remotely. Sensors can provide real-time data to ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are operating effectively and efficiently, minimizing the use of energy whilst detecting and addressing any system degradation. Sensing also underpins remote resolution, allowing action to be taken before a fault occurs, often preventing the need for a service visit.

Where a service visit is unavoidable, Facilities Management providers will leverage field service optimization solutions to minimize downtime, manage parts and maximize the potential for a first-time fix. IFS, for example, already offers powerful multi-time horizon planning (MTHP), providing resource planning and demand forecasting for short-duration intraday visits, through to multi-day, planned outages, and further long-term projects such as modernizations or upgrades to optimize resources, calendars and shifts.

Streamlined service

If organizations are to pursue ambitious ESG goals, their FM provider must be suitably equipped. For example, the ability for FM providers to track and use refurbished or remanufactured parts will become increasingly attractive from both an environmental and a cost standpoint in the circular economy. Access to geographic information systems (GIS) allows providers to rapidly pinpoint the location and fastest route to any asset or component in a building or facility. Faced with upgrading or updating infrastructure to incorporate more sustainable, energy efficient technologies, FM providers will need to orchestrate projects from their workforce and beyond – something that IFS Cloud can manage whilst ensuring optimum efficiency.


I believe through 2023 we will see an acceleration in the convergence of property and technology (Proptech). Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT, Big Data, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), Building Information Modelling (BIM) blockchain and even drones are increasingly all playing a part in smart, connected buildings.

The routine inclusion of remote sensors generates unprecedented data about every facet of a building – how and when it’s used, its temperature, its air quality, its energy and water consumption, and more. As the interconnectivity between sensors creates a system of systems, FM providers managing multiple properties will need to look to Machine Learning to analyze the feeds, detect anomalies and prioritize alerts across the estate.

AR and VR allow an employee on-site to remotely become the eyes and ears for a service engineer – potentially allowing investigation and confirmation/elimination of a fault, for example by checking or re-setting a circuit breaker, before a service visit is made. Where facilities are remote or inaccessible (for example skyscrapers), drones offer a cost-effective way to undertake an aerial inspection of the structure for degradation or suspected damage.

Prophetic insight

As well as informing efficient construction and scheduling, a Building Information Modelling (BIM) system creates a digital twin that allows accurate Lifecycle Analysis – a cradle-to-grave understanding of the environmental impact of a product, asset or service. Coupled with a digital building model, analysis of operating data can reveal where changes in building layout or infrastructure would create efficiencies and savings, ensuring building assets can adapt to remain fit for purpose over time. These intelligence insights are effectively prophetic.

By using IFS Cloud, FM providers have the benefit of building wide sensing and monitoring within a single unified platform, i.e. a complete digital twin. Summary dashboards show the asset status and priorities, with the ability to drill down for further analysis or to identify anomalies.


Post-pandemic, remote and hybrid working have become institutionalized. The shift towards flexible, work-from-home and hybrid arrangements has permanently changed the dynamic for teams and employers. A new study of mobile data activity by analysts and Visitor Insights suggests UK employees are typically now office-based from Tuesday to Thursday only.

Effective hybrid working is ultimately about finding the right balance between the physical workplace and the digital workplace. It also needs to recognize the possibilities (both at home and in the office) presented by emerging technology such as the metaverse.

Workplace Experience management

Suddenly, the justification for retaining and operating costly office spaces and facilities is called into question. There is little doubt that many organizations want to attract employees back into the workplace, at least for some of the working week. But there now needs to be a tangible advantage for employees to work from an office as opposed to working from home. To succeed, Facilities Management providers must now create and maintain an attractive Workplace Experience (WX). From ease of parking to the refreshment facilities, to flexible access hours, to employee facilities such as a corporate gym – all these and more will influence working patterns, decrease absenteeism and boosting productivity.

There’s an unprecedented global demand for talent, and workplace experience is something that will influence the recruitment and retention of staff. Savvy leaders are recognizing the need to make the office a destination, not a requirement. For example, we have already seen a move away from individual offices and workspaces with a greater emphasis now on teamwork and collaboration, which is often optimal in an in-person setting

I believe the days of a dedicated workplace experience manager are not far away, along with increased engagement via voice of the employee (VOE) surveys and regular touch points to understand Employer Net Promoter Scores (eNPS). As we see more standards and regulations implemented to ensure knowledge workers can perform their role remotely, so the role of FM providers will likely extend to also encompass homeworking experience responsibilities for employee home office setups, opening yet another service opportunity landscape.


Asset owners are looking to FM providers to deliver guaranteed outcomes as a service. The goal is efficiency through sustainable, intelligent and automated operation of an environment. For example, automatically placing equipment such as monitors and elevators into standby mode at night; maintaining a comfortable ambient temperature during the day that is reduced to save energy when the building is empty; and agreed lumen light levels delivered by energy-efficient LEDs.

With smart buildings FM providers are moving beyond a break-fix model to taking ownership of the outcome via a performance-based contract. Servicing equipment will shift from a periodic maintenance model to become more proactive and intelligent, based on condition and use, and encompass different equipment classes in one visit. Why attend to maintain revolving doors when the elevators can be serviced at the same time too?

Performance benchmarking

As a consequence, FM providers are also getting access to significant, and potentially valuable, data from asset fleets across estates. By aggregating this data in the cloud and applying ML algorithms, FM providers can benchmark the performance of assets and facilities across different customers identifying anomalies, but also highlighting opportunities for improvement. With these insights, FM providers are ideally placed to offer value-added consultancy services and make recommendations to building owners and operators to optimize asset performance and operation. This in turn drives the relationship to a much more strategic level and in turn ensures that both the building owner/operator and the FM provider have the same goal.

IFS Cloud, our service, project & asset (SPA) focused solution, is designed to support the complete project & asset lifecycle in a single platform. Encompassing powerful Contract Management, subscription-based billing and both front-office and back-office processes, IFS Cloud can support FM providers seeking to transition to high margin, predictable, outcome-based service contracts.

To find out more about how IFS can help support Facilities Management Organizations in 2023, click here –


  1. Using Data to Drive Workplace Innovation and Sustainability – Frost & Sullivan

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