February 23, 2017

Responsiveness to change: Mobile for Facility Management

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 mobile technology to support facility management in terms of apps for your phone. However, mobile technology has responded to changing needs in more ways than one.

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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 cell phone through work. With BYOD policies becoming more common at the time, this created a challenge for the 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. The same application will deploy itself differently on a laptop as opposed to a tablet, for instance. 

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 to a large extent 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-related software for mobile devices apart, and that is maintenance. When servicing assets, professionals may get into 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 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 favor of responsive applications.

This is just one of the technologies building smart futures 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 organization.

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