19 October 2017

3 developments causing the Real Estate and Facility Management domain to change

Technology and information management are playing an increasingly important role in Real Estate and Facility Management. Research by Frost & Sullivan on ‘The future of Facility Management’ and by Gartner on ‘The Digital Workplace’ recognises the importance of information technology, but why is that? Technology is not an objective in its own right, but a means. Hence there must be additional underlying developments at play which impact on the world of the facility manager or property manager. What are they and what is the extent of their impact?

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To explain why the domain of the facility and property manager will drastically change, it is important to describe three underlying developments. These can be related to economy, demographics and technology.

Economic developments

The sharing economy is emerging rapidly. Consumers feel less and less of a need to possess goods, which has created online and off-line platforms where people offer their property for hire or exchange. This sharing economy is characterised by new revenue models, new products and services and new sales markets. Organisations also have less of a need for property and this is reflected in the increasing number of buildings or operating assets that are leased. The platform model – which facilitates this sharing economy – is the new revenue model. Examples include the Uber taxi company that does not have a fleet or Airbnb holiday lets that do not own any apartments.

This platform model blurs the traditional border between Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) organisations, and the new revenue model enables the B2B sector to aim directly for the consumer. A third form has now emerged: Consumer-to-Business (C2B), the key element of which is consumers who promote a brand via online channels. Examples include travellers who leave a positive review about a restaurant or hotel on comparison websites such as Booking.com or TripAdvisor, or food bloggers who use a certain brand in an online recipe.

Globalisation also plays an important role in economic developments: not only does competition manifest itself locally or nationally, but globally as well. This means that innovation is important not only to achieve a strong competitive position, but also to retain it. Flexibility is a condition for innovation, but not every organisation is flexible enough to anticipate opportunities and threats at the right time. Consequently ‘agility’ (an organisation's manoeuvrability) is becoming more and more important.

Demographic developments

Demographic developments increase diversity. This diversity is created by, among other things, the influx of young talent, older employees continuing to work for longer due to the shift in retirement age and an increase in cultural diversity. In addition, labour migration means that people at work are interacting more and more with colleagues from different backgrounds.

The increasing shortage of specific knowledge or competencies in the labour market plays an important role within this development; better known as the so-called war on talent. Today, employees put different demands on their employers. For example, they want to continue to learn and develop, have a better work/life balance and attach value to sustainable business practices. These days, if the employer fails to meet these requirements, an employee is more likely to change jobs. Hence listening to such requirements becomes increasingly important in order to retain staff.

In my next blog, I will elaborate on the third and final category of these underlying developments: those with regards to technology. The combination of these developments means that employees will have different expectations from the workplace, that the technology used in the work changes, that the work itself changes and that the organisation changes. All this results in ten trends. These ten trends will bring about new realities that will be inevitable by 2022 and which facility and property managers need to prepare for now.

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