The FM profession is in a good place these days. The global economy is (mostly) emerging from a difficult spell, new generations are bringing new energy and ideas to the profession, and technology, already ubiquitous, is becoming even more so. That said, we have issues. What that really means is that we have opportunities. I believe they are big opportunities. How we address the issues will determine in large measure the course of our future as a profession. While there are many, here are three that warrant focused attention by the FM community.
We are awash in data but often unable to turn it to wisdom that can be leveraged. Virtually every system we are responsible for or use produces data, but systems are not yet intuitively enough linked in language or common logic networks, making it difficult to synthesize information into knowledge and recognize opportunities. Big data is big news these days and rightfully so, and business intelligence resources are coming to market in greater numbers. But most FM’s do not have the people, technology, or system resources to investigate, recognize and take advantage of what the data illuminates. How do we change that? By improving business acumen throughout FM, by investing in appropriate technology and resources, and by insisting that the systems we buy support our data integration needs.
Talent has always been and will always be the number one game in business, and FM needs to compete for the best. There is a thirty year gap between the “old heads” who grew up in FM and are now leaving the profession, and the young folks coming into FM. Talent influx in the interim was suppressed by economic downturns and business’ never ending drive for efficiency (read: lean resourcing). As Baby Boomers leave the workforce in droves the knowledge gap is growing. At the same time there is an ongoing dialogue about the needs and direction of the profession. Those who believe FM needs to be part of the leadership suite are encouraged that many entering the profession come with degrees and advanced education. Others say all this new brain power is great, but who among them can tell you how a chiller works? This divide between the two sides of the profession, the board room and the boiler room, is nothing new and we should not expect it to change any time soon. Recruiting, mentoring and developing top performers in all areas of the profession now will set us on a solid course for the future.
Recapitalization of the built environment will challenge us for decades to come. As the global economy emerges from its recent troubles FM must compete for its share of a shrinking resource pool. That alone will be a tough road as business and government must make serious value choices about how to allocate limited funding. FM will be competing directly with core revenue producing units for the resources it needs to provide effective work places that support the efficient operations that business demands. Governments face large challenges in developing infrastructure that will enable business expansion and benefit society. In my mind that means a few things: 1) FM must engage in the public sector policy arena in a much more meaningful way to raise awareness of the leverage the built environment represents; 2) The Design/Build/Operate community must focus on delivering value and solving problems with every project as a way of demonstrating its stated commitments; and 3) FM must be a thought leader inside organizations, helping to lead the discourse around asset alignment with enterprise strategy.
The basic message is this: FM needs to lead. We have much to contribute but are sometimes reluctant. We should be more proactive in developing important alliances and contributing, informing, and helping to guide public and private dialogue on areas where we have knowledge and leverage.