The Amazon Effect on Facility Management

When people discuss the “Amazon Effect,” they are often referring to the disruptive impact Amazon has on the retail industry.  However, companies like Amazon and Netflix are having a significant effect on the commercial real estate and facilities management industry as a result of one of their core customer experiences: personalization and immediacy.

Building owners and facility managers have long been in the business of resiliency and availability, energy efficiency, and operations and maintenance.  Today, they are also in the business of personalization.

86% of consumers state that personalization plays a significant role in purchasing decisions.  80% of people expect companies to interact with them in real-time.  As consumers, we rely on and are accustomed to personalized experiences, and it has fundamentally altered our expectations for how we interact with any product or service, including our facilities.  We expect that the built environment will understand our requirements and respond to them in real-time.

The downstream result of personalized customer expectations is impacting every industry.  In healthcare, 72% of CEOs believe the next three years will be more critical to their industry than the last 50 years, requiring a “modernized approach to consumer engagement that is proactive, personalized, and competitively differentiated.”  Horst Schulze, the Founder Ritz-Carlton, recently told Harvard Business Review, “Luxury used to mean marble floors and oriental rugs.  Today, to our guests, luxury means personalization.”

At Leading Edge Design Group, we define a Smart Building as one that uses an integrated set of technology, systems, and infrastructure to optimize building performance and occupant experience. The importance of this definition for facility managers is that delivering a personalized experience in the built environment can coincide with optimized building performance when a Smart Building is planned and implemented correctly.  The challenge is that the set of systems and infrastructure we rely on to operate our facilities, like Building Management Systems, are not designed for personalization and immediacy.  To be successful in personalizing the occupant experience today or to the journey to personalization, facility managers need to understand:

Internet of Things (IoT) solutions

Delivering personalization and immediacy for occupants requires that data collection happens in real-time and as close to your occupants as possible. Network-connected IoT technologies enable the proximity of data collection to move closer to your occupants than traditional BMS topologies.

Data Analytics

There are five different categories of data analytics. How you employ data analytics in your facility will depend on the technology you have deployed, the competencies of your staff, and the skillsets of your partners.  To move your built environment to a more personalized experience for occupants, facility managers must better analyze the data that is generated in their facilities to make more informed decisions.

Autonomous Operations

The personalized experiences we receive from companies like Amazon and Netflix are driven by Artificial Intelligence technology that is learning your patterns and delivering recommendations based on vast amounts of data. The key is that there is no human interaction required – there is no customer service representative pushing recommendations to your computer screen each time you log on to Amazon. Delivering true personalization and immediacy in our facilities will require that we leverage artificial intelligence and enable autonomous operations – allowing our facility to learn, predict, and control on its own.  (learn more about the difference between automation and autonomy here)

According to the recent CBRE Americas Occupier Survey, a “greater emphasis on personalized user experience” is a top facility management trend.  How to develop a path to that personalization can be challenging for facility managers that are already understaffed and consumed by operational challenges.  By understanding the key technologies that will enable more personalized experiences, building owners and facility managers can begin to chart a path toward the immersive, personalized occupant experience expected in the built environment today.