Author: Simon Davis, IT Community Board Member
The technology landscape for Property, Facility and Real Estate tech is getting more complicated every day for a number of reasons:
- Tech consolidation – we have already seen M&A activity this year which can impact our solutions, two examples being the MRI acquisition of Manhattan Centerstone and VTS’ acquisition of Rise Buildings.
- Changing mindset – we do not know the full impact of the pandemic on our facilities. One thing we can predict is that companies will question the cost-benefit of physical space. Surveys from organizations including WorkTech and JLL indicate that less than 10% of employees surveyed want to be in the office 5 days a week. There will be a need to change existing systems to meet new needs and also potentially new technology to support short to medium term needs.
- Proliferation of solutions – the tech market continues to grow exponentially. We have seen continued investment (examples being Occupier and Saltmine raising Series A funds) and growth in solutions that have been enhanced to offer COVID-19 return to office solutions.
- Growing Ecosystem – We are seeing a significant growth in hardware based solutions (such as sensors), enablement technology and complimentary solutions (e.g. tenant experience) that increase the complexity of planning for your roadmap.
- Tactical solutions – we have seen a significant growth in solutions to meet immediate needs (for example desk booking and contact tracing). While tactical solutions may assist short term, you need to consider the cost and long term viability of the solution as part of your roadmap.
As we start to look at returning to the office post pandemic, it is an appropriate time to take stock of your technology solutions and how they can best meet your business needs, both now, and in the future.
What is a Technology Roadmap
A technology roadmap is a formalized plan for determining the short and long term strategy around technology solutions. In considers the corporate strategy, business priorities, system criticality and inter-dependencies (for example with corporate systems such HR and finance).
It also considers what I like to call “The Pain and The Vision”.
Where do I start?
The initial assessment should look at how your technology aligns with your business needs (and indeed corporate objectives).
To define the scope for your Roadmap, consider the services provided that support the portfolio (which in turn support the corporate objectives). You technology should align with the value chain of services that are provided. Some examples may include:
- Demand Maintenance
- Planned Maintenance
- Room Booking
- Space Management
The core evaluation activities are outlined below:
- How well do your current systems meet your business needs TODAY?
- Can the delta be addressed by optimizing current solutions?
- Can your current systems meet your anticipated FUTURE strategic objectives?
- Where are the technology deltas in current and future needs?
- Can the gaps be filled by augmenting the current solutions (e.g. implementing data visualization to improve reporting)?
The Pain and The Vision
It is a key need of a Technology Roadmap to consider what is broken today and what is needed for the future. This can be done as a facilitated session whereby stakeholders can talk about their pain points and their vision for the future.
Pain points are difficult to capture but are really critical to the assessment. Pain points create conflict and frustration but they need to be truly understood to determine if the solutions can meet your needs or not.
As consultants, we are often faced with a blanket response of “our technology sucks”. But as we peel back the layers, we identify other contributing factors including poor processes, inadequate training, incomplete configuration or bad data. These are elements that may be fixable and prevent the need to change technology, so they are worth the time to discuss (no matter the pain felt).
The pain points will feed into the Issues Summary, which can be classified as follows:
- People Only
- Process Only
- Tech Only
- People and Process
- People and Tech
- Process and Tech
Visioning the Future
The future vision is arguably the cloudiest it has ever been for most companies. We do not have the data points we need yet to determine our respective future needs in our facilities. 2021 will be categorized with a lot of experimentation around the workplace, and probably more visibility to FM services then ever before (encouraging people back into the office will require them to feel safe – air quality and cleaning routines are just two things that can likely allay employee’s concerns).
The future vision should be strategic and not fall into the trap of being solution focused. Product demos and “solutionizing” needs to be done once the strategic pillars have been set.
If the current solutions cannot be enhanced to meet current or future business needs, this may point to the need to replace the solution with a product that does meet those needs.
Prioritizing the Opportunities/Issues
By assessing the criticality of systems to the business (and in support of the corporate objectives), you can then prioritize the roadmap activities.
We categorize in 4 boxes:
- Quick Wins (low effort, high impact)
- Good Investments (high effort, high impact)
- Nice to Have (low effort, low impact)
- Train Wrecks (high effort, low impact)
At this stage you can also incorporate budget considerations into the plan.
The process outlined above will provide the base for the Technology Roadmap.
- Maturity Assessment
- Opportunity Analysis
- System Level Gap Analysis
- Issues Summary
- System Prioritization
As you may note, the Technology Roadmap does not reference specific solutions, but provides is the guide for how to get from the current state to the desired future state.
Many thanks to Simon Davis with the IMPEC Group for sharing this thought leadership.