Look for Tech's Starring Role in 2021 Facility Management


The facility management industry has never been more analyzed and scrutinized in the retail space than in the past year. Many procedural changes have quickly become implemented and normalized. Even with a vaccine, advancements in janitorial protocols, delivery and in-store communication will be emphasized.

Stores will continue to act as fulfillment centers and consumer shopping patterns will evolve. Technology will play a crucial role in how facility management moves forward.

When disaster hits, technology departments need to be a priority for leadership teams. When you have the right talent in place, you can rely on them to find ways to reduce costs and operate leaner.

At NEST, we learned that we could save in the area of cloud compute costs indefinitely. We cut that expense by 50% during the height of the pandemic when 90% of our clients were closed.

As retailers opened back up and our volume resumed, we found ways to continue to operate with a lower spend. Investing in cloud services, rather than owning data centers, is a key factor that allows a company to be nimble during a crisis.

We saw shifts in behavior when it came to technology inside the stores, too. In-store retail managers are being asked to take on more responsibilities from a facility management perspective. Our team at NEST asked our retail clients, “How can we best work with your stores to communicate on their time as opposed to our time?”  

It became apparent that retailers are looking for new ways to have real time interaction with onsite management to improve their operation. That puts technology at the forefront to solve this problem.

As these trends continue to be discussed, companies can look to customize their communication technologies. Mobile apps and browser-based systems have replaced paper records, allowing facilities professionals and business leaders to review asset and project information, work order status or on-site photos from their phones or tablets.

It also streamlines communication by reducing the amount of time they spend on the phone relaying project updates or traveling to various locations to check on repairs.

Mining work order management data is also key moving forward. When a retailer can draw parallels between the data and the customer satisfaction scores, they can make intelligent decisions that improve their overall operation. Uncovering these lessons without increasing costs is now more important than ever.

Analytics takes data usage a step further by enabling users to forecast the future based on historical trends and patterns. Depending on your organization’s priorities, you can use predictive analytics to plan your next preventive maintenance schedule, facility management budget or both.

Forecasting and projecting integrated facility management expenses with the aid of software gives organizations the ability to predict outcomes with increasing accuracy.

For facilities leaders managing multiple business locations, technology is becoming an even bigger part of their day-to-day jobs. Integrated facilities software is paving the way for more innovative and advanced technologies that will continue to elevate the facility management industry and benefit retailers long-term.

Michael Toth is the CIO of NEST, a provider of integrated facilities management services. Follow NEST on LinkedIn.

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