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Facilities management revolution driven by IT

  • Published: 06 Aug 2018 at 15:50 0 comments
  • WRITER: Thananya Chanthorn, CBRE
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The very definition of property services has changed dramatically over the past decade for both the residential and commercial market.

Innovative technology and demands are changing the relationship between individuals, companies and real estate providers. And the Thailand market is no exception.

Most recently, particularly for occupiers of a commercial property, the idea of facilities management (FM) has gained traction in certain sectors in Thailand. But in such a developing commercial property market, FM is often a misunderstood part of the wider commercial property services offering.

Why is this? Simply put, occupiers and firms in Thailand see FM as an unchartered territory. They prefer to stick to legacy office administration services from in-house teams as opposed to adopting an outsourcing model associated with FM.

The FM gap here in Thailand isn’t driven by legacy issues though. More so, FM here is in a nascent stage whereby wider adoption will come through education and familiarisation with the offering to unleash the benefits.

With new and technology-led developments, the benefits of a more holistic FM programme offer excellent opportunities for Thailand occupiers, irrespective of sector and demands. 

For FM to penetrate Thailand’s maturing commercial real estate market, an understanding of the platform is first required.

In a nutshell, an enterprise FM provider delivers a full range of services and safety processes to clients. These solutions drive efficiencies and reduce operating expenses in commercial real estate locations. 

More specifically, this model has traditionally included operations and maintenance management advisory services, strategic supply sourcing for best services and prices, energy and sustainability platform management, employee services such as mail delivery, reception, reprographics, food services and records management and health, safety and environment (HSE) stewardship. 

However, market trends and demands have heralded a new age for FM. Its fundamental outsourcing base and proposition have come a long way since it was first introduced.

FM is now capable of providing value far beyond simple cost savings. Nowadays, developments in FM provide greater opportunity for in-house teams to focus on core activities and deliver strategic value to customers and shareholders.

Globally and regionally, the market is evolving too with a pivot towards experience-based workplace management. Increasingly, people want to choose where and when they work and the focus is now on the workplace to deliver more in the way of services and amenities.

Technology is also pushing the boundaries of what real estate can deliver for organisations. All of these means that FM is transforming: from an asset, building and plant-centred activity to one which focuses on end users.

The end users are a huge consideration for the workplace as demographics are shifting. With a young and dynamic population, Thailand is a strong example of how FM can provide a business platform beyond cost savings and more standard forms of real estate outsourcing. 

Case in point: millennials. Born between the 1980s and mid-1990s, millennials will comprise half of the global workforce by 2020 and 35% of the Asia-Pacific workforce. They are tech-savvy and highly connected. They are both urban, educated and perhaps most poignantly, they are disrupting the world of business and igniting a global war for talent acquisition and retention. 

Unsurprisingly, the workplace is seen as a major factor in attracting and retaining millennial talent, and FM plays a key role in this strategic initiative.

For example, millennials in Asia-Pacific treat health as a drawcard when considering careers and employers. As such, wellness facilities rank as the workplace amenity they most desire and second on the list of amenities that employers are planning to provide in the future, after childcare. 

What does wellness have to do with FM? In the short term, there are some low-cost, quick wins that can boost wellness which now fall under the FM umbrella. Examples include using a meeting room to run lunchtime yoga sessions, offering healthy options in cafeterias and vending machines, as well as subsidised gym memberships. 

In cities with pollution issues, active management of the air quality, water quality and access to nature are critical to drawing talent and retaining them. But in the long term, for wellness programmes to succeed, they have to be supported across the organisation, hence the importance of FM in this wider workplace dialogue. But buy-in for such programmes is also contingent on human resources, IT and FM working together to make it a comprehensive, lasting approach.

No conversation about FM in Thailand can exist without technology either. Disruption is changing the working experience in positive and previously unimaginable ways.

Smart buildings are one such area where security systems automatically recognise your face, scans your fingerprint and allows you through the barriers. It is here where FM comes together with technology and the internet of things (IoT). 

Despite the promises of IoT, only a few companies have brought the concept of the truly smart building to life. It is predicted that intelligent buildings will be commonplace by 2020.

In Thailand, early adopters have included oil-and-gas companies and those in the finance and banking sectors, all of whom have made FM a core component of this shift. More sectors will likely follow suit briskly. 

The big question for many Thai companies considering FM is where to start. The logical entry point is rethinking ideas of real estate collaboration and partnership.

Regardless of industry, relationships between the supplier and client are changing. It is critical for the customer to select the right partner to ensure cultural alignment from the beginning.

Before entering an FM relationship, establishing a robust framework whereby collaboration and roles and responsibilities are decided across long-term real estate solutions is a prerequisite. This typically begins with the request for proposal stage, thereby providing solutions that work for both parties.  

When longer-term partnerships are forged with FM providers, new demands materialise. For example, it is here where more advanced technology integration and greater collaboration emerges, leading to deeper contractual partnerships.

The benefits of evolving to this wider level of FM relationship correlates with the ever-changing business and global push for the real estate landscape to provide a more agile approach. 

Furthermore, the ability to drive cost-saving initiatives can be realised within longer-term contracts. It doesn't matter if relationships are built properly with shared savings initiatives, these terms can drive positive behavioural changes.


Thananya Chanthorn is director, head of Bangkok's Global Workplace Solutions - Enterprise Facilities Management, CBRE Thailand. She can be reached at bangkok@cbre.co.th Facebook: CBREThailand Twitter: @CBREThailand LinkedIn: CBRE Thailand website: www.cbre.co.th 

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