Many things have changed in the last five years since the IFMA Foundation published the original Work on the Move. In that book, I wrote about how mobile technology supports facility management using apps on your phone. However, mobile technology has responded to changing needs in more ways than one.
The problem with early apps was the increasing demand to support functionality on any type of phone or tablet. According to a 2016 Steelcase report on employee engagement, only 39% of employees globally have been given a mobile phone by their employer. With BYOD policies now becoming more, this has created a challenge for app developers.
Emergence of web-based software frameworks
As technology has progressed, we now see the emergence of web-based software frameworks that allow developers to create responsive applications. These are applications that will adapt how they are presented, and how they can be operated depending on the type of device they run on. For example, the same application will deploy itself differently on a laptop as opposed to a tablet.
Responsive applications allow for an intuitive user experience on various devices. By maintaining a similar user interface across devices, the learning curve is reduced and adoption rates increase. In addition to this, they simplify information technology configuration and management largely because there is only one application that has to be supported, rather than a collection of applications, each of which can only run on specific devices.
A new generation of field-service applications
However, there is one aspect that sets facility management software on mobile devices apart, and that is maintenance. When servicing assets, professionals may have to work in places where there is no network connectivity and no GPS signal, but they still need to continue using their applications. This requirement has been an important driver for the development of specific apps, but now we also see that this capability is supported in web-based and responsive frameworks as well, leading to a new generation of field-service applications.
Looking at these developments, one can question how long mobile technology will remain a topic in software for business systems. There will still be room for specific apps in the years to come, but their numbers will decrease in favour of responsive applications.
This is just one of the technologies on building smart futures that I write about in Work on the Move 2. Download the book or watch our webinar to learn about other technologies affecting FM and how you can start thinking about them for your organisation.