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Hard services, hard data, hard decisions

Umesh Bhutoria, Founder & CEO, Xempla

Umesh Bhutoria, Founder & CEO, Xempla breaks down the role of data in FM Operations & Maintenance, and the opportunities and possibilities it opens up for all stakeholders.

Determining data required

Data collection is a means to an end, so it really depends on the kind of outcomes that FM O&M teams intend to drive and the timelines they have set for themselves. When we engage with our customers and prospects, we use two factors to determine their data requirements:

  1. Time in which they would like to get to the transformed state.
  2. What does the transformed state for the FM team look like?


State Use case example Data requirement Data acquisition cost and effort
Low maturity of use cases and a lot of time to get to the end state. Energy reporting/ sustainability reporting on metre data. Low In most cases, it will be limited to data integration costs vs putting up new infrastructure.
Medium maturity of use cases and medium term outlook to get to the end state. Energy monitoring, FDDS, condition-based asset monitoring Medium Significant data integration effort (BMS, EMS) and cost. In most cases, this may also lead to additional sensor or data infrastructure to be put in place.
High maturity of use cases and short time span to get to the end state. Energy optimisation, net zero transition, predictive analytics, maintenance optimisation High Integrations with systems like CMMS/ CAFM, new data infrastructure and change management.


Is data analysis customised?

In general, the analysis of data is really not customised. The correct way to put it is that it’s developed for use cases like Energy Monitoring, FDD, and Maintenance Optimisation etc, which then makes it applicable to all FM O&M teams alike.

The case for customisation usually arises with third party system integrations like CMMS and CAFM or perhaps reporting requirements linked to energy or sustainability.

Influencing client decisions

Energy savings and sustainability: Some of the most significant outcomes that FM teams consider include assisting asset owners to reduce energy costs and consumption, as well as contributing to the overall sustainability and net-zero targets their customers aim to achieve. We have helped FM O&M teams make proactive decisions using data to deliver 6-15% of energy savings for their customers through operational and optimisation measures.

Maintenance optimisation: We have helped FM teams unlock superior customer experience by moving from a scheduled maintenance regime to a proactive and optimised maintenance regime, without compromising on asset performance or reliability.

Risk management: Some of our FM customers operate critical assets under very strict SLAs. Data has helped these customers manage their portfolio risk and empower their teams to not only comply with SLAs but actually achieve considerably better performance.

Common misconceptions

A ‘perfect’ start is the only way to start: The truth is there’s no perfect way to start. Facility managers need to realise that making a shaky start and finding the right way as they go along is better than losing time to make the perfect start. It’s always better to focus on a limited outcome than trying to get everything right all at once.

Data or digital transformation in general directly correlates to redundancies/reduction in person hours: Data is just a means to an end. In fact, the sheer volume of data that’s available today isn’t really helping FM teams run leaner operations and maintenance. It all boils down to the right analysis of data and helping teams make proactive decisions based on it to actually reduce person hours and improve your productivity.

Leveraging data works against FM teams vs for them: There’s a certain resistance that comes with transitioning to a data-driven system. For FM teams, this arises because it requires a shift or change in the way things were done before and they feel it might end up being counterproductive for them. Plus, O&M workers aren’t equipped with the skills or expertise needed to handle data and naturally, they try to avoid this shift. We are making the transition to a data-first environment easier for O&M workers with the right tools, resources and assistance.

The future of data

The future of FM is performance or output-based, where the value of FM is strategic. This is inevitable and perhaps the only way wherein Facility Management companies could continue to enjoy decent profit margins.

This essentially means that at some point, relevant data related to assets, people (occupants, tenants and O&M teams) and every interaction that happens between them would need to be captured, analysed and contextualised for ease of decision making.

It has started to happen and will only grow in the months to come. This transition is going to be initiated by asset owners (Real estate developers, investors) as much as it’s going to be influenced by FM companies. I’m a firm believer in the fact that it’s the FM companies who have more to win from making proactive movements.

The last word

Over 70% of the workforce employed in Operations & Maintenance across FM does not have access to formal education and lacks basic data skills. That’s the most important challenge and opportunity that we’re solving for.

Digital transformation in Facilities Management, like every other industry, is going to be a process; it will take time and has to be people-centric for it to be inclusive.


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