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August 01, 2019

Facility Management Evolution Series: 1990s & 2000s

Analysis of the article “The Evolution of FM” by Nancy Johnson Sanquist, former VP of Global Strategic Marketing at Planon

My curiosity continues when looking to understand the originating ideas within Facility Management, and the inception of IWMS as we know it today. With my study of “The Evolution of FM” by Nancy Sanquist, VP of Strategic Global Marketing at Planon, I’ve been able to dive into previous decades , where FM has demonstrated the ability to establish itself as a solid field coupled with the formality of association support and recognition. Throughout the analysis of Sanquist’s research, we’ve been able to gain a remarkable understanding of the evolution that’s taken place in previous decades. 

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During the 1990s, there was significant transformation that needed to take place to assimilate FM with the technological capabilities that were becoming increasingly intricate as time went on. This doesn’t mean that all ideas were effectively executed or stuck, a true transformation takes place through some failure and realization of what’s working and what is not. For example, Sanquist mentions an effort made to transform the terminology of CAFM (Computer-Aided Facility Management) to CIFM (Computer-Integrated Facility Management) with help of Bruce Forbes, CEO of Archibus. Even though the overall idea of this change in terminology was strategic and applicable, this never stuck within the field and was subsequently rejected. This was a true time of trial and error for the world of technology, and FM was no different when it came to the process of experimentation.

The early 2000s and the formal conception of IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System)

Throughout Nancy Sanquist’s article, “The Evolution of FM” she highlights the period during the early 2000s where we could really find ourselves questioning, what did the new IWMS look like, and to be frank, what could be done with it? Sanquist mentions how Gartner, who is an insightful global research firm that is well respected within the field of FM, had hired analyst Mike Bell for the newly developing real estate and facility management technology. He is the one who had granted it the name of Integrated Workplace Management Solution (IWMS).

With Gartner being such a leading tool of reference and research, we saw them establish an IWMS “pecking order” as Sanquist mentions, referred as the “Magic Quadrant” that was annually reviewed from 2004 with the last appearance seen in 2014. Through this research we were also able to outline the formal definition of an IWMS and be able to keep up with the current trends and capabilities as they emerged. Despite changes within the structural aspects of the field, Sanquist points out that Planon, as well as Archibus, remained the only IWMS vendors still under original ownership.

Changing the way we think about FM during the Fourth Industrial Revolution

I was pleased to see that Sanquist touched on just how much we have witnessed change throughout IWMS organizations as that’s where a portion of my interest lies, coming from my comparative perspective of current FM practices. She also does not leave out that for each individual decade, there were notable shifts in the way that we utilized our solutions and additions at every turn. Shifts within ownerships occurred across companies, consequently enabling integrations and expansions within accessible technologies. For example, these systems have come to integrate with not only CAD but with 3D modeling and Geographic-Information Systems (GIS) in addition to the multiple capabilities that emerged during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

So, what will be the next FM breakthrough?

The field of FM has remained important and ever-changing throughout the decades. It continues to be exciting with the introduction of more and more technologies relevant to the field and the capabilities that come along with them. For FM professionals, there is something new to learn every day. What is to come next for us? Well the capabilities that are present in the fourth industrial revolution can leveraged throughout the field of FM to expand upon our current state, we are ready for the fifth decade, and all the great possibilities that are ahead for FM. There seems to be no limits within the technological revolution.

Abdel el Ouasghiri
Account Manager