Facilities Management Middle East
GROWING WITH TECHNOLOGY
John Nolan, CEO at Initial Saudi Group, says that innovative requirements of mega projects such as NEOM are forcing the FM market to grow rapidly in the region
John Nolan, CEO at Initial Saudi Group, believes that Saudi Arabia is Middle East’s largest economy and its FM market is already the largest in the region, accounting for around 55% of the total GCC spend on FM services. He says: “The Saudi FM market is estimated to be worth $20bn per annum compared to $10bn in the UAE. However, only 31% of FM services work is outsourced in Saudi, compared to 45% in the UAE.”
Nolan believes that “technology is the main factor in moving the FM business forward and this is an area where the Saudi market possibly lags behind in comparison to the UAE”.
Major construction and infrastructure
projects, such as the NEOM and the Red Sea projects, are driving rapid growth in the Saudi FM market; at the same time, the sophisticated and innovative requirements of these projects are forcing the FM market in the region to mature quickly.
Nolan adds: “Essentially, these landmark developments require intelligent, integrated or bundled FM service solutions, delivered via output-based and performance-related contracts, and only those service providers with a more modern approach to delivery have the capabilities to meet these requirements.
“Inevitably, the opportunities presented by these landmark projects and by the major infrastructure growth in general, has meant that many international FM service providers now have a presence in the Kingdom.”
Additionally, in line with Saudi Vision 2030, the country is adopting more sustainable practices and moving towards a greener economy, and this shift is creating a wealth of opportunities, not only for the energy management industry, but for the FM sector as a whole.
“FM plays a vital role in driving changes to the way facilities are managed and in implementing the innovations in technology that will play a key role in making our buildings greener,” says Nolan. These changes include areas such as intelligent building management solutions; intelligent energy management, from smart technology to renewable solutions; better management of water resources; better waste management and more ‘recycle, renew, reuse’ initiatives; and connecting buildings with communities and people.
Technology plays an increasingly important role in how FM services are delivered, Nolan reiterates.
“From the CAFM (computeraided facility management) system that now sits at the heart of most FM service delivery, to intelligent building management systems and smart communications devices, technology has been part of the FM tool box for some time.
“However, here in Saudi, we are seeing a trend amongst the more sophisticated clients — including landmark mega projects like NEOM and the Line, as well as state-of-the-art government facilities — where they are demanding solutions that are cutting-edge FM technology including IoT technologies, remote intelligent sensing/monitoring and robotics.
“Many of these technologies are very new to the market here and there is pressure for FM companies to rapidly embrace and adopt them in order to meet these client demands,” Nolan says.
Talking about the challenges facing the FM market, Nolan adds that many contracts are still awarded purely on price and to the lowest-cost contractor. He adds: “This means that service delivery is often a compromise between cost and quality, which is essentially a compromise between trying to meet the client’s expectations of service excellence but within the cost restrictions they impose.
“Contract periods also present challenges to the service provider. With most contract periods being awarded for just between one and three years, there is limited opportunity to invest in the technology and long-term solutions that could ultimately bring cost and quality benefits to a true service provider/client partnership.”
Initial Saudi Group has been one of the few service providers to react “very quickly and very early to the changing needs of the Saudi market”, adds Nolan.
Initial Saudi Group is headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with regional offices in Riyadh, Dammam, and Dubai
Nolan says: “We recognised early on that one of the key differentiators in the market was going to be technology and that is why we have invested and continue to invest heavily in FM technology solutions.
“And we were among the first to recognise that more sophisticated clients are increasingly demanding more sophisticated FM solutions — demands that we are able to meet through our approach of delivering world-class fully integrated FM services that are measurable and benchmarked against international standards.
“We are also extremely proud of our highly trained and experienced teams of FM professionals who share the common goal of providing service excellence by using established industry best practice.”
Nolan concludes by saying: “At Initial Saudi Group our target is to focus on innovations that drive efficiencies, increase quality, deliver cost savings, improve data analytics, and ultimately benefit the user/customer interface.”
WITH MOST CONTRACT PERIODS BEING AWARDED FOR JUST BETWEEN ONE AND THREE YEARS, THERE IS LIMITED OPPORTUNITY TO INVEST IN THE TECHNOLOGY AND LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS THAT COULD ULTIMATELY BRING COST AND QUALITY BENEFITS TO A TRUE SERVICE PROVIDER/CLIENT PARTNERSHIP.