Sunday, January 17, 2010

Data Interoperability – A Dream Coming True or an Elusive Quest?

As building operations have increased in complexity over the years so has the data available from building systems and the need to analyze the data and make fact-based decisions. Facility Managers (FM’s) and their cohorts are challenged to make sense of and synthesize data from different systems to present a complete and rational picture of operations. Not to say that we have arrived at a juncture of data and rationality, but at least we can see the intersection from where we are today.

Expanding beyond the building envelope, managing portfolios of multiple properties only increases the complexity of the equation and the challenge of reaching that desired intersection. While there have long been portfolio management systems and building management systems the two have not often worked hand in hand. Too often, in fact, they have not been viewed as part of the same equation. The real estate folks have their systems and the operations team has theirs. Seldom are they integrated.

In today’s world that simply is no longer acceptable.

Large portfolios represent large investments. Investments that must be optimized in all realms to support financial health and strength. That means that real estate portfolio management and operational systems management should be viewed as part of one whole, not two separates.

Corporate Real Estate (CRE) professionals care about strategic planning, forecasting requirements and business drivers. They understand the financials of the deal but not the life cycle operating costs of the deal. They need to track inventory, utilization, depreciation and implications to the corporate bottom line. Like FM’s, their operational cousins, they typically deal with a number of different systems to accomplish all of this.

FM’s who are focused on building or site operations deal with a different set of requirements, systems and data. On the building side of their domain they care about operating costs, risk mitigation, compliance issues, energy efficiency, lean processes and meeting service level agreements.

The two worlds seem different but are interdependent. New generations of software will integrate them in ways that improve operations on both sides of the equation, making the interdependencies visible and actionable. Portfolio information about asset management and utilization will help operators understand building profiles. Service KPI’s will be tracked across the enterprise and integrated with financials. Energy management will be dashboarded and enable financial modeling and troubleshooting using the same analytical tools.

One of the positive effects of the economic meltdown will be an increased focus on efficiency coming out of the experience. Capital investment will flow to programs and systems that help to lean operations, improve performance and increase efficiencies.

Tomorrow is on the horizon. It will not look like yesterday. It won’t feel like yesterday. It won’t be yesterday. Crisis always leads to innovation and this one is no different. But it will require that you change as your company, your priorities and the knowledge you need to be successful change.

Change. There’s that word again. Don’t ya just love it?

I hope so. It’s the key to your future.

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