Unlocking the Era of Connected Buildings


 
Prabhu Ramachandran, the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc. redefines the post-construction lifecycle of buildings 

It’s no exaggeration to say that exciting times lie ahead for the FM industry. As key differentiators of excellence, facilities management operations are taking centrestage and emerging as a defi nitive infl uence on the brand recognition of commercial real estate businesses. Once confi ned to being a back-end operation and viewed as a passive cost center, FM is now a key aspect of brands in real estate. Whether a property is residential, retail or a workplace, facilities management directly impacts branding and is a prominent tool in meeting ever-evolving customer demands, within a competitive landscape of emerging smart building technologies. 

In the past, FM tech has been slow to realise the full extent of the operational enhancement it can enable, with many solutions simply re-purposed from products originally designed to service domains such as industry, oil, gas, etc. Within the FM space, technology has often been reactive and in catch up mode, rather than being at the forefront of driving market evolution. With several other traditional domains – such as hospitality, cab hailing, retail and more – having adopted the convenience and commercial rejuvenation aff orded by Apps and connectivity-based model, the time is right for an analogous disruption in FM as well. Prabhu Ramachandran, the founder and CEO of FM tech startup Facilio, has brought a promising innovation to market that could address this void. The company’s innovation is an enterprise-wide software platform, which was specifi cally built for buildings, rather than being repurposed from another industrial application. It is a solution that unifi es operations and maintenance of facilities across portfolios, using a connected and data-driven approach. Anchored in connectivity and AI based real-time analysis, this is a tech-driven solution that might just be the seamless and definitive competitive advantage the FM industry has been waiting for. 

DEPLOYING THE RIGHT MIX OF TECHNOLOGY 

 
In a future of Smart Cities and Smart Buildings, optimal automation performance, sustainability and occupant experience are all linked to the ability to track these assets and proactively tweak them to produce best-case results. Enter Facilio. This innovative startup has delivered a solution that fuses the flexibility of Cloud solutions with the sophistication of mobile Apps. It leverages IoT, Machine Learning and AI based analytics to bring smart functionality to existing automation, rather than replacing it from the ground up. Given the huge investments that existing buildings represent, this reorientation resolves a major sticking point. By using a platform model to deliver their solution, Facilio have enabled a collaborative approach that includes their customers and end-users in the optimisation process. Facilio have empowered the FM sector to be hands-on in crafting the end solution, on the basis of their rich domain expertise. Facilities, automation and processes- previously shackled by reams of paperwork, multiple excel spreadsheets and dozens of piece-meal legacy technologies - can now be utilised to their full potential and best case efficiencies. 
 
The key empowering shift that Facilio brings to the FM industry is to make it more agile, realtime and connected. The siloed and disjointed legacy operations, which the industry had grown accustomed to, introduced friction and disharmony. Facilio replaces them with a means to enable better collaboration, deepen the qualitative involvement of FM teams and embed their expertise into operational workflows, in an enhanced model that leverages the skills, and elevates the experience, of all stakeholders. 

UNLOCKING VALUE, EMPOWERING CHANGE 

Technology is transforming every aspect of the real estate sector, and players operating at the biggest conceivable scale are buying into the market enthusiastically. The staggering $100 billion dollar ‘Vision Fund’, launched by Masayochi Son’s SoftBank Group, funneled more than $5 billion into real estate based startups in 2018 alone – in addition to the $5.4 billion it had put into WeWork over the previous two years. Facilio is the world’s fi rst AI & IoT-based, real-time, facilities optimisation software platform, which off ers unifi ed enterprisewide facilities and sustainability management for CREs and FMs. The initial funding for this US and India based Proptech disruptor came from leading investors Tiger Global and Accel whose investment portfolio includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, Dropbox, Flipkart and several other massive tech companies. What makes the concept a promising game-changer is that its future ready solution leverages existing assets, rather than seeking to render them obsolete. The automation embedded within the average contemporary building generates vast amounts of sensor detected data. However, this goldmine of real-time performance metrics usually lies in siloed systems, isolated by vendor specific protocols and individual systems that have no means to communicate or collaborate. A technology agnostic platform, the Facilio solution collates the vast IoT generated data streams at a portfolio level, subjects them to powerful real-time AI-driven analysis and generates actionable insights that can be used to direct and refi ne every system resource - from automation and workforces to energy consumption and the load assigned to mechanised assets. The solution seamlessly upgrades legacy buildings into state of the art digitally optimised assets, without incurring the costs that a complete hardware retrofi t would require and that too across portfolios that include properties in diverse physical locations. With early adopters ably demonstrating the value the Facilio solution has delivered, the transformation it enables has already been demonstrated across multiple deployments, in diverse international markets.  

VALUE-ADDED OCCUPANT EXPERIENCES

One of the key limitations that digitally enabled FM has operated within is that virtually all the software solutions in use were repurposed industrial and mining solutions. Buildings, however, are quite a different beast to purely industrial environments. While metrics to do with the performance of automation and technology are crucial, one of the ultimate and most critical elements in FM is the occupant experience. Customer expectations have been completely reset by solutions that have transformed other markets - such as Uber’s influence on the on-demand cab hailing space, or Airbnb’s impact on short term leasing. Facilio’s impact on making built assets more sustainable and energy efficient could help save the planet, but what it adds to the occupant experience and the perceived value of a property might just have an equally decisive influence in CREs signing on. In an industry with stakeholders as diverse as those that commercial real estate addresses, only a truly comprehensive solution can lay claim to being viable, and what Facilio brings to the table is exactly this elusive trait. Smart and connected buildings were always going to be limited in their impact, if their deployment was in high cost and limited issue properties alone. Increased competition is creating the need for streamlined FM operations that reduce cost but also address evolving tenant needs. What makes the Facilio solution truly impressive, is that before it was conceived and developed, most experts would have imagined a vastly diff erent and far more cost prohibitive path to truly widespread smart infrastructure.

FUTURE READY AND AGILE 

Few industries are at the intersection of as many influences and factors, as FM is today. Virtually everything that was established as standard norms and practices, until very recently, has come to be redefined by a shifting landscape of rapidly evolving demands. From user expectations to government regulations, FM now needs to address diverse outcomes that are all mission critical. What’s more, with the pace of global urbanisation only gathering steam, these are not challenges that will become static or predictable any time soon. If an innovation is to be eff ective in the FM space, it not only needs to comprehensively address existing challenges, it needs to be flexible enough to address future developments. What impresses about the Facilio solution is that, apart from being agnostic to existing technology, it is flexible enough to incorporate any future parameters, as they emerge. This is not an innovation that impacts a few of the most important aspects of a challenge and calls it a job well done. It really does run the gamut and is open ended enough to evolve along with its ecosystem. As an enabling and empowering innovation, the Facilio solution can certainly be said to have removed some of the most sizable impediments in the path to enabling smart built assets and state of the art FM operations. 

THE ARRIVAL OF TRUE END-TO-END ENABLEMENT? 

FM is an inherently complex space. From required outcomes, to operational variables, nearly every aspect of the business resists being oversimplified. Perhaps the most compelling argument for the Facilio solution is that it does not attempt to succeed by lumping together disparate elements and fi t a round peg in a square hole. Instead, it empowers transparency into each aspect of a richly interwoven environment, seeking only to rationalize the relationships and dependencies into a coherent bigger picture. If you are a CRE or FM operation with your ear to the groundswell, chances are that you have heard of Facilio already.

Client’s Comments

Sangeetha, Deputy CEO, Al Fajer Facilities Management 

“Al Fajer has been using the Facilio solution since late 2018, and the operational advantages were apparent almost immediately after we incorporated the platform into our business model. As an IFM service provider, Al Fajer FM believes in empowering our workforce, by providing them with the right tools and technologies. The connected buildings approach, that Facilio delivers, has very noticeably upgraded the quality of the services we at Al Fajer have been able to deliver, using the same general resources and assets that were at our disposal previously. In my opinion, the ability to anticipate asset degradation, and the highly responsive interventions that we have been able to make are perhaps the biggest fundamental advantages. Not only does the ability to analyse and be proactive help in almost eliminating elements that are undermining efficiencies, the ability to attain and seamlessly maintain the highest standards in performance also result in delightful occupant experiences. This ability to reconcile all the desirable outcomes and address them all concurrently, is the fundamental advantage of the approach that Facilio’s connected building solution facilitates."

Firas Obeido, Chief Technology Officer, Smart Automation Energy (Smart AE) 

"Facilio is our fast track to real-time facilities. The apprehensions around physical retrofi ts are real, especially for large facilities with pre-existing automation - so having a single tool to track and improve asset performance with minimal investment and in real-time is incredible. Making legacy buildings smarter and sustainable isn’t daunting anymore. With paper-based audits and highly ineff ective systems to track performance, it was hard to demonstrate clear ROI on energy. Being an ambitious ESCO, we wanted a fast-track approach to achieve energy goals but existing energy solutions had a slow impact curve. With Facilio we were able to achieve a rare combination of facilities and sustainability management in a single solution. Facilio enabled us to fast-track our projects with digitising our fi eld operations, predictively monitoring energy asset performance and centrally manage our energy goals. The icing on the cake was that Facilio turned out to be one of quickest solutions to onboard and get running (within few weeks) that we have ever seen." 

  

 
 
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