Markus Oberlin, CEO of UAE-based Farnek, shares his top five industry trends to watch out for in 2020

Markus Oberlin, CEO of UAE-based Farnek, which was placed at number 4 in FM Middle East’s 2019 FM Power 50, shares his top five industry trends to watch out for in 2020. 

1. Long term partnerships

As the demand for buildings to become smarter by employing advanced technology, whether new build or retrofit, FM companies will more than ever need to start developing strategic partnerships with their customers.
It will be essential to understand the mechanics of their customers’ business and be prepared to invest in technology and infrastructure, hand-in-hand with the customer to achieve common goals.

2. Sustainability 

Being a Swiss-owned company Farnek has been an advocate of sustainability for 40 years now, long before it was mainstream opinion. As more extreme and erratic weather patterns develop across the globe – you only have to look at Australia currently in the grip of devastating bushfires, exacerbated by record high temperatures and months of drought – it is critical we all try to reduce our carbon footprint.
Through energy and water conservation, recycling as well as waste management, our intent in the short term is to reduce our carbon footprint, but the ultimate aim must be to operate in a carbon neutral environment.

3. Employee welfare 

Happy, motivated and dedicated employees make an average company into a great company. In a labour-intensive industry such as FM, (Farnek currently has over 8,000 employees), it is vital that management puts staff welfare right at the top of their agenda.
Quality staff accommodation, with a variety of recreational facilities; good healthcare amenities; comfortable and reliable transportation; educational support and development and tangible career prospects. But most of all it should be about respect and celebration of cultural diversity throughout the workforce.

4. Data driven decision making 

Building Management Systems (BMS), the Internet of Things (IoT) and other smart technologies will, through the implementation of a 5G Network, reach a heightened real time level where more precise, accurate and faster decisions can be made. This will also have a major impact on predictive maintenance.

This will be one of the most exciting areas of progressive deployment in our industry today, it will accelerate the use of technology with limitless possibilities and will without doubt radically change the way that we operate as FM professionals. This brings me neatly onto my fifth point.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) /Augmented Reality (AR) / Robotic or Machine learning

Much has been made of the technological or fourth industrial revolution, especially the challenge of training technicians as well as keeping them up to date, as technological advances inevitably accelerate. Ironically, technology will provide the solution to this problem and here are a few examples.

By simulating certain work environments in the classroom, through the utilisation of smart glasses, field technicians can be given relevant and bespoke training; Smart Washroom technology in high traffic venues such as shopping malls, will allow management to measure footfall for smarter allocation of cleaning staff as well as consumables, providing invaluable historical records for procurement departments as well as qualified customer satisfaction surveys about their washroom experience.

Finally, the use of AI will optimise the performance of helpdesks with predictive peak calls, intelligent routing and a user sentiment analysis. In addition, it can be used to provide online and real time tracking of service teams which will improve the customer experience as well as 3D printing of spare parts required for maintenance or repairs.