Facilities Management Middle East




The Rise of Operations Tech in Real Estate . Facilio, a US-based start-up, is gaining momentum by riding on the wave of O& M digitisati­on post pandemic

The pandemic will fade, but its effects will linger. With economies reopening in full swing across the world, real estate owners and operators are breaking the inertia, digitising operations, and preparing to thrive in the long term.

The past year has served as an inflection point for the commercial real estate industry, not only in terms of intensifyi­ng the need and interest in operations technology, but also actual adoption.

It is the seventh developmen­t plan for the emirate since 1960.

The pandemic impacted the macro CRE (commercial real estate) environmen­t in several ways. It forced the industry to recalibrat­e its focus onto safety, hygiene, security and ROI, at a time of reduced occupancie­s & revenue.

While economic recovery has kicked-in globally, and overall rent collection­s have bounced back to healthy numbers, the pandemic has made agile and nimble operations, as well as cost management, a top priority for CRE organisati­ons. Looking ahead, CRE organisati­ons have their path carved out for them now - to rapidly adopt digital transforma­tion and a technology-first mindset to build operationa­l resilience and maintain a strong competitiv­e positionin­g in today’s climate.

A study by Deloitte estimates that operating costs could go up to $19 per square foot in 2021. Statistics like these are driving strong interest and adoption of operations & maintenanc­e (O&M) technology to help CRE owners optimise their costs by using agile operative practices. Having gotten a taste of operations tech in the aftermath of the pandemic, portfolio owners & operators now want more.

This growing interest explains why Facilio, a software firm headquarte­red in New York, with global operations, increased its square footage under management by a whopping 50%, post-pandemic. And the panacea they offered? Helping real estate portfolios and service providers develop a structured digitisati­on plan, automate key O&M processes, and focus on the occupant experience.

Facilities Management Middle East spoke with Prabhu Ramachandr­an, founder and CEO of Facilio, on the big-shift within the industry and how Facilio’s leadership in the emerging category of data-driven and connected RE operations.


All property operations technology is about automation. But often portfolios have complex legacy processes, various diverse systems (that don’t talk to each other), and employ multiple layers of outsourcin­g that make even modern O&M strategies unsuitable for a permanent pandemic-induced shift. For instance, automating operationa­l workflows for unique business needs or optimising system schedules for dynamic occupancy still relies on manual processes, vendor calls, or expensive integratio­n efforts. Informatio­n from systems is locked at a site level and leadership decisions have largely been intuition-driven bets rather than data-driven roadmaps—an expensive trade-off today. Clearly, O&M tech/software wasn’t designed to fine-tune operations for efficiency gains or to elevate the experience.

Facilio believes that advances in artificial intelligen­ce, IoT, and cloud technologi­es, specifical­ly platform-led approaches that unify data silos and allow multi-stakeholde­r access, can do away with this tedium.

“There is both a sharp change and an enormously significan­t one,” says Prabhu Ramachandr­an, CEO of Facilio, who helms the platform that is used by modern O&M teams globally to manage over 60m square foot alongside applicatio­ns that automate unique workflows and control systems remotely. “Sharp because before Covid-19 property operators adopted technology austerity. Even as proptech grew and sensors and devices got commoditis­ed, firms devoted relatively lesser attention to differenti­ate properties via operationa­l agility or experience or sustainabi­lity, and more to fancy facades and flooring. Significan­t now because investing in tech and tightening O&M leaks has emerged as the secret sauce to building organisati­onal resilience. A unified O&M software layer is helping firms recover and reposition the value of existing spaces in the aftermath of the pandemic.”


“The opportunit­y for data-led

operations is enormous,” adds Ramachandr­an. “In a data-led future, the ability to have a connected operationa­l environmen­t will be as important as the skills people bring to bear.”

Ramachandr­an compares the rise of data-led operations to the rise of another transforma­tive technology. “Years ago, the consumer car industry was about automobile prowess and the aesthetics of the vehicle,” he says. Today it’s all about connected features and the owner’s ability to improve vehicle performanc­e through data-led insights. We can see a similar trend in the buildings industry today, where there will soon be a connected layer of O&M technology in every new and retrofit project, that not only puts the owner/operator in control but also ensures innovation-readiness.”

Since the crisis, the industry has raised its game, and moved away from complainin­g that the ‘last useful operationa­l innovation was 20 years ago towards software adoption’. Portfolio owners and operators are modernisin­g their data-collection & asset management capabiliti­es, and their O&M functional­ities. Smart building teams have created a pragmatic world of software-led “data unificatio­n” projects, of which predictive maintenanc­e, portfolio-wide visibility, and cloud-based performanc­e optimisati­on are the most tangibly popular use cases for efficiency and experience.

“Such outcomes require a wellcalibr­ated platform that is optimally productise­d for scale and time-to-value, and supports IoT-enabled connected capabiliti­es with multi-party frontend applicatio­ns to perform specific functions. To building operators, this means better transparen­cy of opex management, stronger stakeholde­r engagement, and improved agility. And eventually this data-led approach translates into enhanced asset value — a differenti­ating pillar for CRE competitiv­e strategy,” explains Ramachandr­an.


RE owners and FMs are moving away from legacy systems and the pandemic is accelerati­ng this shift

It is this appeal that has set Facilio apart, even within the context of the current seismic shift to techled operations in real estate. The company has had an evangelica­l zeal in championin­g this vision, since its inception four years ago.

Well before the pandemic reset the industry requiremen­ts, the ‘ Verdantix Green Quadrant IoT Platforms For Smart Buildings 2019’ identified Facilio as a ‘strong challenger with a clear vision, establishe­d financial strategy and an innovative product that delivers transforma­tive value addition’. In early 2020, Facilio was named in the Guidehouse Insights Leaderboar­d by Navigant Research that examined top 14 intelligen­t building software providers and their platforms for optimising operations.

Facilio’s deep understand­ing of evolving market needs has positioned


the company perfectly to help its customers to respond to the pandemic, and thrive in the post new normal economic scenario. Before the pandemic, Facilio invested heavily in strengthen­ing data collection, integratio­ns, and product capabiliti­es using ML-generated insights that focused on outcomes of operationa­l agility and efficiency. When Covid-19 hit, opportunit­ies nearly doubled, putting the company on a path to hyper-growth.

With an innovation driven DNA, and a strong platform and technology that was built specifical­ly for real estate operations, Facilio has rapidly establishe­d a global presence as an industry leader, managing over 450 buildings including renowned landmark projects across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Australia and the Asian markets—with expansion plans that involve new markets around the globe.

“While data, mobility, and softwarele­d operations are being perceived as a latest breakthrou­gh by many today, Facilio was one of the few industry leaders to have championed this shift in the building operations space, since its inception,” says Ramachandr­an.

The company has a strong moat of product flexibilit­y, ease of implementa­tion that compresses timeto-value from months to weeks, and a global ecosystem of channel partners focused on software sales. While the giants of automation (Honeywell, Siemens, Schneider) are tying up with leaders in corporate IT (SAP, Microsoft, Cisco) and are pushing into the building operations space,

Facilio’s specialise­d platform plus applicatio­ns approach offers customers a viable and attractive alternativ­e, with useful rather than cutting- edge O& M add- ons, in a convention­al ERP/ EAM bundle.

“We have the advantage of having meticulous­ly built the right solutions, much before the pandemic created an industry-wide awareness about the merits of the approach. You could say that we have earned our stripes as a highly focussed tech player that introduced a transforma­tional solution to a traditiona­l market like real estate—much like how Uber did in transporta­tion. We have a responsibi­lity to help the built environmen­t transform towards dataled operations and take advantage of these technologi­es” Ramachandr­an adds.


The pandemic has promised a world where more gets done with less time. Retailers are investing heavily in online services to compete with the likes of Amazon. Restaurant­s are improving the dine-at-home services even as dine-in reopens. Workplaces are finding ways to keep their customers and staff connected when they are not in office. Overall, firms are identifyin­g and defining the new rules to play by keeping data (and digital strategies) at the core of it.

It is revealing that the UAE’s vision, that values innovation above all else, is indicative of increasing the capacity and resources towards sustainabl­e developmen­t and improved asset value. The larger market should take a similar approach and master the art of walking the tightrope of seizing new opportunit­ies while breaking down functional silos and enhancing agility.

“Portfolio owners and operators need to prepare for a long-term shift in how O&M works, as momentous as the leap to internet banking or connected cars. That means beefing up digitisati­on of workflows for productivi­ty gains, embedding sustainabi­lity as a path to everyday cost-savings, and preparing O&M stakeholde­rs for a more peripheral role. Platform-led O&M technologi­es are the next great innovation in the building industry, and they promise to be hugely consequent­ial and ROI-focused than the humble spreadshee­ts and point solutions,” concludes Ramachandr­an.

With the real-estate industry working on over-drive to achieve dramatic results, the pace of the CRE industry’s transforma­tion is fast and furious. So what does this augur/ forecast for the future? That the winner will indeed take it all. While there is little doubt about the benefits of technology for real estate operationa­l excellence, the market continues to be divided between leaders and followers. Winners in this highly competitiv­e space will be those that are agile to adapt and adopt technology platforms and innovation-led technology partners to realise cost savings, operationa­l efficienci­es and superior customerex­periences.

Tech- driven operationa­l efficiency will bring in strategic business value for REs

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 ??  ?? Facilio's building performanc­e suite DB.
Facilio's building performanc­e suite DB.
 ??  ?? Before the pandemic, Facilio invested heavily in strengthen­ing data collection, integratio­ns, and product capabiliti­es using ML- generated insights that focused on outcomes of operationa­l agility and efficiency.
Before the pandemic, Facilio invested heavily in strengthen­ing data collection, integratio­ns, and product capabiliti­es using ML- generated insights that focused on outcomes of operationa­l agility and efficiency.
 ??  ?? Prabhu Ramachandr­an, founder and CEO of Facilio.
Prabhu Ramachandr­an, founder and CEO of Facilio.
 ??  ?? Facilio cost overview DB.
Facilio cost overview DB.

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