The Author, Paul Bullard, Business Strategy Director, FSI Middle East
Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?” Voltaire
Many companies make use of the same enterprise software solutions to run their organisations, yet the usage and experiences are generally a closely guarded secret. It is seen as competitive advantage to closely protect your systems and processes, yet in doing so, these businesses are also closing themselves off from new ideas and opportunities.
The FSI User Group has its origins as far back as the early 1990's when a group of representatives from a range of organisations got together to discuss their use of the then then flagship CAFM solution Concept 300. This group has since evolved into a true community with hundreds of users regularly gathering in customer-hosted venues to engage with each other, in the hope of becoming better informed and to learn more about FSI products, and the direction the company is taking in the future.
On 18th September 2019, FSI hosted their latest User Group event at the Dubai World Trade Centre with a wide range of attendees. Representatives from sectors such as education, finance, retail and various FM service providers were represented, as well as a range of individuals with operational and strategic roles. Everyone had the common desire to learn, understand and get more from their Concept solutions.
Each FSI User Group session’s content is determined through regular collaboration with the user group community and will tend include topics such as recent industry or technology trends, new FSI products and case studies of best practice usage or unique implementations. The mantra of “get the most from what you have” has been a key infl uence in recent times.
The Dubai event had a heavy leaning towards challenges impacting upon the region’s businesses. Concept Advantage is a suite of apps allowing members of a workplace or residential community to directly engage with the facility services. Providing a seamless communication channel to the Concept Evolution CAFM system, both the customers and the facilities team are connected by modern social interfaces in a very diff erent way to that of traditional customer web portals.
Fixing and preventing poor quality data and reducing the administration overhead involved in mobilising new contracts are two major challenges for every facilities company. Even semiautomated processes such as spreadsheet imports require time and eff ort and introduce a margin for user error. Asset classifi cations impose a structure that ensures assets are identifi ed correctly and consistently, and FM’s can defi ne and enforce rules for their asset registers. It not only ensures they know exactly what assets they have and that the data is correct, it also ensures that they are being maintained correctly. This means that the FM can pre-defi ne all of the planned maintenance requirements for assets in any facility they manage, as PPM service dates are automatically distributed accurately across the calendar year, minimising any additional administration for scheduling or labour load analysis.
With "Industry 4.0" currently dominating the industry press, the Dubai User Group also provided an opportunity for the attendees to gain an understand of how Concept Evolution has evolved to support live connections between assets, people and process. It is very important when businesses are contemplating the use of IoT and AI that they are able to appreciate the full ecosystem required to generate real value from their investment. Just as AI without context is meaningless, a sensor on its own is just modern technology. When they are then combined with CAFM and mobility they then form a valued solution that solves real business problems.
A CAFM system is very much like a Lego set. Some of the most innovative implementations have been created by customers who have utilised the product in ways that the developers never even envisaged themselves. If buyers were restricted by Lego to only be able to build what was pictured on the box, would they have enjoyed such success?
As well as all the product information made readily available at the user group events the real attraction is the opportunity for attendees to network and workshop with peers from other organisations and share and learn from their experiences. Rather than worrying about a competitor using and then enhancing a unique idea or process, companies are considering this approach as a research experience that they didn’t have to pay for!
We have certainly begun an exciting time both in technology and in the facilities industry. Digital transformation is upon us all. Knowledge is a major commodity, and we are seeing collaboration between organisations like never before. Competitors are combining to realise new opportunities and FSI are committed to delivering both solution and events to the region to support and facilitate this evolution.