Building information modelling, big data management, smart buildings, data aggregation, transparency, smart energy tools, management information planning, smart cities. These buzz phrases aren’t just talking points, they are truly redefining the whole built environment ecosystem. That is a cause for celebration for FM professionals, and we should be doing all we can to get ahead of these developments and leverage them in the right way.

But this excitement comes with a caveat. And it’s a big one. Technology has seen commoditisation take hold, draining the power of relationships from many of the sectors where it originally started a revolution. FM faces this same risk.

The strategic value of facilities management, and its reputation as a profession, is defined by the relationships providers hold with their clients. If we dehumanise our relationships with clients, and we become fixated on technological tools, data assessment and analytics, this will see clients distance themselves and make facilities management purely a numbers game that is wholly commercially driven.

FM, as we all know, is much more than that.

At Robertson Facilities Management, we put partnering and collaborative working front and centre – it’s all about having the right people and culture, with all parties driven to succeed. A successful partnership cannot be assumed as part of a contractual requirement; it is developed through shared values, common goals and a high-quality service.

At Teesside University’s business and innovation centre – Fusion Hive – aligning our service offering with the University’s business objectives has helped us to support and embody their values. The cultures of Robertson and the Hive are intertwined, and our operations have been fundamental to their business growth and development, and to meeting occupancy targets.

This hasn’t been at the expense of technological innovation – in fact, it has been the driving force behind it. Our partnership has given rise to many opportunities to develop new practices. This has been a natural progression as part of our shared commitment to continuous improvement. We have created bespoke energy software for the Hive, which added value by delivering financial incentives through intelligent solutions. This software is also used by the University’s estates team to help with their carbon tax calculations.

Research helps our team capture the knowledge that is critical to successfully supporting client drivers and expectations, as well as measuring consumer experience and engagement. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we are collating hospitality feedback on our internal FM Portal, which provides a platform for ongoing enhancement and contract best practice.

Technology shouldn’t be feared, but it also shouldn’t be lauded as the defining factor of our industry’s future. Trusted relationships and pure, unadulterated understanding of the businesses we work for will always be the key to unlocking true value and innovation.


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