In an increasingly digitally enabled environment, one of the critical skills facilities managers (FMs) need to build is digital competency, not just for themselves but for their organizations and the industry as well. Technology is moving at an accelerated pace. The amount of data collected is expanding, but this isn’t a question of “how much data can we collect?” It’s a question of what FMs do with the information derived from the data to power business decisions and improve competitive position. Digital competency enables you to transform your business and the way you do business with your internal and external customers.
What does being digitally competent mean here?
For a facilities manager, things are changing at a very rapid pace. Technology is taking over the traditional way of operations. IoT and smart building phenomenon is growing by leaps and bounds. Now all this is fine, but the fact remains that in the end its the humans running the technology. They should know how to use it effectively and should be comfortable while doing so. This is what digital competence with respect to facility management means.
How to go about it?
Constant training programs and an open mind is a must. Let’s begin with digital transformation — what is it? It’s the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business (including FM), fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with more risk in decision-making.
The current business scenario only allows for leaders who are ready to embrace technological change to thrive. There is no space for traditional methods of working, they have to be shunned for a better tomorrow. There is no one size fits all approach to digital competency. Things have to be completely balanced here, everything from core competencies to the allocation of resources has to be balanced. This is a must in order to stay competitive. A right synergy has to be struck. Things like predictive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are not easy to grasp and would take time to sink in.
Top drivers for digital competency?
In a recent edition of the Sloan Management Review, the report noted the top drivers for digital competency as evolving customer behaviors and preferences, followed closely by growth opportunities in new markets, increased competitive pressure, and the emergence of the importance of standards. In the case of facility managers having a real-time feel of the workplace and the workforce helps them in responding faster hence enhancing the productivity of the organization. An effective framework for building digital competency has to include a standardized approach to data as a critical component.
Begin with where you stand?
Assessing your workforce for tech savviness is the first step towards enhancing their digital competency. However holistically one must look at it from the following point of view.
- How aligned are your digital and corporate strategies?
- How customer-centric is your digital strategy?
- What level of resources are you willing to commit to advancing digital maturity?
- What is your company’s comfort level in taking risks regarding digital initiatives?
- To what extent do you use external partners to build digital capabilities?
- How collaborative is your corporate culture?
- What share of your digital talent has to experience from outside your organization? Outside the industry?
- How many of your senior managers can articulate their digital Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
- What level of support exists to allocate needed resources for this transformation (financial, training, etc.)?
- Is the corporate message reflective of this new approach?
- What skill sets to develop digital competency are available in your team members?
- What level of investment are you willing to make to increase that skill set?
- How well does your company leverage the data you collect to generate insights that affect your corporate strategy?
- What percentage of your core back-office processes are digitized?
Digital transformation anyways is an ever-evolving process. The reason is simple, technology is evolving and so is our need to make the system leaner. However, if the companies or should we say facility services companies follow the digital of things, then better productivity, reduced operational costs, and improved reach is all possible. Its just a matter of time before embracing digital competency becomes a mandate.