Facility managers have always been consumers of technology. More and more, I think, facility managers should become students of technology as well.
As technology consumers who are selecting products that may be in place for decades and that can help or hinder the organization to achieve its mission, facility managers have to scrutinize new offerings with very critical eyes. It’s essential to cut through the sometimes extravagant marketing claims that accompany new technologies. In making decisions about which products to select, facility managers need to focus as much on what might go wrong as on what can go right.
But facility managers should also be educating themselves about technologies likely to require action in the not-too-distant future. As students, facility managers aren’t vetting products for a construction project, but rather learning about opportunities and challenges presented by technologies that haven’t yet had a major impact on their buildings.
It’s easy to see why a facility manager might not see the value in studying the technologies in this month’s cover story: augmented/virtual reality tools, machine learning, wearables, electric vehicles, drones, and autonomous vehicles. No one can say exactly what the ultimate impact of those developments will be. And there are plenty of new technologies — from the Building Internet of Things to increasingly high-tech building materials — already available to address pressing needs. Facility managers hardly have spare time to contemplate what might happen.
But the technologies highlighted in this month’s cover story aren’t going away. They are making headlines outside the realm of facility management, and they will eventually transform the way that facilities are designed, constructed, and operated. A savvy facility manager will always be looking at ways that outside forces will affect the performance of buildings and of the demands placed on the physical environment. Developments in technology are moving fast, and the technologies in this month’s issue will be here before many facility managers might think — almost certainly before many systems now being installed in buildings come up for replacement, to put the time frame into perspective