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The Fourth Industrial Revolution, how we got here and what it means for the Facilities Management Industry

By 5th February 2019Blog

By Xolile Sizani, Group CEO at Servest.

The theme for this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland is Globalisation 4.0.: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

There are those who believe that globalisation is the cause of many of today’s societal and economic challenges for a variety of reasons, but admit it or not, globalisation is about progression. It brings with it technological advancements that are aimed at changing the world we live and work in, and how we interact and exist in these societies.

Globalisation has a rich history, and supposedly started with the Silk Route in the first century, in the 15th century, the Age of Discovery and the Spice Route in the seventeenth century. Fast forward to today and we find ourselves in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. According to Elizabeth Schulze, the Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to how technologies, like AI and IOT etc., merge with our (humans) physical lives (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/16/fourth-industrial-revolution-explained-davos-2019.html).

It is interesting to note, that the Fourth Industrial Revolution was also the theme at the 2016 WEF, just one year after it gained its formal status as a Swiss Host-State Act, which confirmed the role of the Forum as an International Institution for Public-Private Cooperation (previously, it was a not-for-profit organisation, based in Cologny-Geneva). So here we find ourselves again, in real time, as the advancement of technology and innovations are being developed at phenomenal speed.

In Facilities Management (FM), as with any other business, it is about harnessing these technologies in achieving efficiencies and adopting best practices. Innovation in a FM company seems difficult to imagine, however it is extremely important if we want to add value for our clients. In FM, human capital is the biggest cost base in delivering a service and in order to deliver excellent service, you need those people. Technological innovation is key in helping your people to deliver services in more efficient and cost effective ways, thus saving cost without sacrificing quality, or the wellbeing of your colleagues. One such example, is our Asset and Maintenance Management Model, which provides a framework for us to effectively manage a trolley portfolio for a large food retail store. We do this, by using our world class management system called, Concept Evolution to manage, monitor, and measure service delivery performance.

The functionality also allows us to measure trends over a period of time, giving both our client and ourselves insight into the effectiveness of the on-site trolley recovery process. It also provides for pro-active risk identification and prevention initiatives, where trolley losses exceed expectations, as well as repair and refurbishment request trends.

As this example shows, there is no way around technology and as an integrated facilities management company, innovation has to be a key component of your business. This is for the benefit of clients, but also to make the lives of the humans performing the tasks, that much easier – for if we are to be sensible, we will work with technology, embrace innovation and allow ourselves to determine its uses because we need to remind ourselves, we are the inventors of technology, not the other way around.

“The unprecedented pace of technological change means that our systems of health, transportation, communication, production, distribution, and energy – just to name a few – will be completely transformed. Managing that change will require not just new frameworks for national and multinational cooperation, but also a new model of education, complete with targeted programs for teaching workers new skills. With advances in robotics and artificial intelligence in the context of ageing societies, we will have to move from a narrative of production and consumption toward one of sharing and caring”, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

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