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Why AI and IoT Can’t Replace an FM Pro

Why AI and IoT Can’t Replace an FM Pro

Through the ages, new technology has put people out of work. Scribes lost their jobs to the printing press. Buggy whip manufacturers closed their doors when automobiles became popular. Telephone operators were laid off when automatic phone switches were installed.

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), like other so-called labor-saving technologies, at first might have seemed to threaten facilities managers with obsolescence. AI and IoT allow a building to regulate its energy consumption, generate reports, and monitor its functionality automatically, without any human involvement. It would appear that facilities managers are on their way to extinction…and yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts job growth for FM professionals.

The fact is that AI and IoT can’t provide context; only people can interpret the data in real-world terms. An automated preventive maintenance system may report that a roof is scheduled for replacement, but it doesn’t provide three competitive bids. It doesn’t know from personal experience which vendor is most likely to do a good job, or which one might offer better terms because they’re hungry for the business. It doesn’t know that a particular FM team member should supervise the roof work because she spent her college summers interning for a roofing company.

There’s no automated substitute for human expertise.

That’s not to say that automation isn’t a valuable tool to improve productivity and profitability. Fine-tuning HVAC operations or reducing a bulky storage footprint through automation is unquestionably cost-effective.

And that’s also not to say that the skill set of FM professionals will remain unchanged. In addition to the construction, engineering, and management knowledge facilities managers must acquire, today’s FM pros need to be IT-adept, and have good leadership abilities. Strategic business skills, according to Facilities.net, are a must-have.

But no matter how much the nature and the medium of the tasks alter over time, the need for a skilled professional remains.

Photo © Elnur/Adobe.com