Smart Buildings Magazine has started a monthly vox pop, asking one topical question to the industry.

This month’s question is:

Will smart buildings change the role of the facility manager?

Thanks for all the responses, it’s much appreciated and if you would like to be added to the panel, please drop me an email and I will send you next month’s question.

If you would like to respond to any of the comments, drop me a line at

“Undoubtedly. What we don’t know is how. Will it boost what they already do? Replace what they do? Or change it beyond recognition?

That remains unclear however I do believe that as buildings become smarter FMs can focus more on the experience that their colleagues have in the building; not the building itself.”

Chris Moriarty, director of insight, British Institute of Facilities Management

“Smart building technologies will result in positive change for the facility manager. Smart buildings will enable increased action, control and automation and associated data capture for furthering the evidence based decision support.

The facility manager will therefore be able to shift from reactive and routine based actions to more operationally efficient predictive and time appropriate actions.”

Richard Chant, head of smart buildings operations, engie

“Smart buildings will continuously produce unprecedented amounts of data on everything from energy consumption to space use of different settings.

The FM role will start to move away from reacting to anticipating, using data as a basis for predictive analytics. In this context, facility managers will have to learn data analysis skills. They will also be more accountable as this data will be widely shared across the organisation.

A whole new ball game!”

Jeremy Myerson, director, WORKTECH Academy

“The role of the facilities manager has been expanded massively by the advent of smart buildings.

"Safety and security management is undergoing a major transformation, as smart buildings equipped with IP-enabled and connected devices provide facilities managers with a raft of new capabilities – from data collection and analysis, integration with other in-house systems, and consolidated administration.

“The integration of smart systems provides facilities managers with deeper insights, faster situational judgement and reduced administration workloads. This has the dual benefit of an improved health and safety regime and a reduced bottom line. In this new landscape, facilities managers can become more and more efficient through a combination of innovative products and integration, connecting devices and processes which had been siloed or watched over by a single operator.

“Facilities managers need to stay ahead of the curve with smart building technology. It’s essential to upgrade and upskill now, to take advantage of the new possibilities on offer ­– or risk becoming outdated and outmanoeuvred.”

Simon Rooks, general manager of the major projects group, Johnson Controls

“Facilities management (FM) is in the early stages of a fundamental shift from the management of physical buildings to understanding and being able to influence what’s going on inside buildings.

FM will become even more data driven than it is today. For instance, at JLL we already provide integrated and flexible services.

Our Facilities Flex solution through our Corrigo platform lets us track, gather and translate data into rich insights to help our clients optimise their people centric FM strategy and overall business performance as a result.

Building systems can react to information from other connected systems without human interaction. This means that FM specialists can develop rules to automate actions. For instance, through sensors, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems will be able to react to reduced occupancy and switch to energy save mode.

As a result, we should also see much better predictive and preventative maintenance (PPM) and fault diagnostic and detection (FDD).”

Akshay Thakur, EMEA director of smart buildings programme, JLL

“Yes, undoubtedly. The change will be transformational, but only when smart building technology is combined with both smart analytics and a new type of relationship with clients.

“To start with, the job of facility managers will move away from planned and reactive tasks to one dynamically driven by the actual and forecasted demand for services, for example, the number of people in a building, or the predicted likelihood of an equipment failing.

“In addition, smart buildings will enable moving from an input driven model where clients pay for the number of people or activities, to one driven by outputs and outcomes. Accordingly, facility managers will need to change their mindset and approach to focus on achieving specific results, rather than only on the efficient management of resources.

“Finally, there will be a significant change on the skill set required from facility managers, particularly those operating in areas such as engineering and security.

As buildings become more digital and their parts increasingly interdependent, for example access and energy systems; managers will have to be both computer-savvy, and able to see their facilities as a system rather that individuals components.”

Alejandro Navarro, director of product portfolio, Mitie Connected Workspace

“Taking into consideration that facility managers are responsible for improving the quality of building occupants’ lives, the implementation of various smart services will not only change but also expand their roles.

Wireless control systems will aid them in their current activities relating to space management and security, at the same time providing them with valuable data indicating real-time energy consumption, occupancy of space, the location of relevant assets and many others.

Equipped with such a technology, a facility manager’s role will change from the person who is reactive (reacts to problems reported by building occupants) to proactive (examines the data generated by wireless control systems and the network itself and reacts to it so that problems do not occur or are invisible to the occupants).

Therefore, a facility manager will have a deeper insight into every ongoing operation in the building and will have more capabilities to modify them for the residents’ convenience.”

Michal Hobot, VP of product, Silvair

“Whether a building’s function is commercial or domestic, occupants should be comfortable, secure and happy.

Smart buildings offer a simpler way for facilities managers to ensure this is delivered, whether the facility is on a single premise or scattered across the world. Facilities managers are now leveraging big data, in the form of automatic maintenance reports and real-time occupancy levels.

This allows them to improve the productivity and comfort of the occupants of the building by interpreting and acting on the data in real-time, fixing maintenance issues, and saving energy when a building is unoccupied; ultimately reducing costs. The modern facilities manager is constantly up-to-date on the status of multiple buildings at all times, and is able to see, understand and fix the problems of any building, at any time, with ease.”

David Ribbons, senior sales director for Europe and Africa at Lutron Electronics.

“Smart buildings will definitely have an impact on the role of a facility manager.

The information provided from all of the sensing devices in the building will support the facility manager role and give full visibility of what is happening in the building. This should enable fast resolution of any issues and facilitate day to day upkeep.

There may also be a split between physical facilities management and the data management side.

There will be a vast amount of work that can be done through the smart control environment that will not require a physical visit.”

Stacey Lucas, commercial director, Sontay

“Undoubtedly yes; the role of facility manager is changing significantly; increasingly requiring higher skills due to the greater complexity of modern buildings and the higher expectations of comfort and convenience of the occupants, as well as the legislative and financial pressures relating to the energy efficiency and maintenance standards now required.

FM managers have a great opportunity to make a dramatic positive difference to the organisation since improving the building environment impacts on employee productivity and retention, while the deployment of the latest controls and IoT technologies offer new ways to improve the operational efficiency of the buildings.”

Chris Irwin, VP of sales Europe and Africa, Distech Controls

“Smart buildings will definitely change the FM profession. Mobile and IoT-related technologies, touchscreens, sensor data and analytics are already revolutionizing how employees interact with their work environment and go about their daily tasks.

“This transformation requires FMs to shift their focus from managing buildings to managing the occupant experience.

To do that, they need to understand the drivers of workplace experience and collaborate more with IT and HR to enable smart working.”

Steven Lambert, COO, MCS Solutions

“The allure and promise of smart buildings is that they don’t just add technology to the built environment, but that the technology changes things operationally for those tasked with running the building.

“To support these changes, the facility manager must add core competencies to their skillsets – or to their team – that may not have previously been considered. This will likely include IT capabilities as the proliferation of IoT connected devices continues and there is a need for installation, maintenance and troubleshooting. It may also require new facility strategies – such as considering how doors and access control should work with lighting systems. Or how HVAC systems might play a role in security monitoring.

“As these technologies develop further – and become more common – the best way for facility managers to stay up-to-date is to find a partner in either an integrator, manufacturer, or both. “Partnerships are critical in the changing landscape of smart buildings. Choosing partners that are trusted and committed to your success is key.

Seek out those who have worked in their field for several years – decades, if you can find it! – and ask them what they can do to help you succeed in managing your building.”

Chris Hobbs, business development leader, data centre vertical market, ASSA ABLOY

“From “Smart” buildings to the Internet of Things (IoT) there is no doubt that constant technological change is going to have a direct effect on today’s Facilities Manager.

"We are seeing a move towards buildings that manage themselves through use of intelligent systems. Whereas in the past, occupiers wanted to be able to control the temperature, humidity, and even the lighting.

"Now, they expect this to happen invisibly. This requires intelligent systems that monitor and maintain the environment without human intervention, whilst simultaneously selecting the most economically advantageous way of managing the infrastructure. Furthermore, security and people management is being integrated in “Smart” buildings.

"With both staff and visitors carrying a smart tag, security systems can track their movements, and potentially warn them if they enter a prohibited area. Moreover, such systems could potentially increase staff safety. In an emergency, anyone trapped in the building could be located via his or her tag on an interactive floor plan via a mobile interface.

“Smart” building systems can also assist, though maybe not eliminate, the day-to-day frustrations over double booked rooms and hot desks. By publishing the availability of meeting rooms and hot desks, potentially utilising motion or presence sensors coupled with enabling remote booking via the web or a mobile device. A company can feed information about availability to a central system, publish it to their staff and ensure that not everyone is trying to book the same resources at the same time in the same building.

"Ultimately, the Facilities Manager must manage these systems, and more importantly ensure that everything works seamlessly all the time no matter what internal or external influences affect the working environment.”

Mark Magee, senior business development manager, FSI

“Facility Manager’s will need to upskill to get the most from a Smart Building, otherwise the benefits may never materialise.

If a building can promote interaction between people, save people’s time, provide the best environment to avoid drowsiness and make building perform more efficiently - Then the Smart Building manager is making people more productive and this elevates their position in a business.”

Chris Grundy, Cundall's IT and audio visual director