One in five facilities managers use augmented reality today, with over 70% expected to use it in the next two years. Gailia Rosen Schwarz, VP of business development at Resonai, discusses a new report asking FM professionals how the technology is helping them to do their jobs better, faster and more easily
The field of facilities management is experiencing a dramatic digital transformation. The processes required to run commercial buildings can range from basic operations and ongoing maintenance to tenant retention and guest experiences, and they all demand constant attention. Artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the internet of things (IoT) devices are just some of the technologies driving innovation in the industry.
Facilities managers are now required to maintain systems in both the physical and digital realms. That’s where augmented reality (AR) comes in. AR enables facility managers to more easily and powerfully accomplish their core responsibilities by streamlining operations and automating repair processes. At the same time, it unlocks opportunities to deepen visitor experiences, expand available data and insights, and introduce new revenue streams.
Resonai recently released a comprehensive report, 2021 State of Augmented Reality in Facilities Management, to learn how AR helps industry professionals bridge those physical and digital aspects of their work. Here’s what we found.
The benefits of AR for facilities management professionals
To compile the report, we surveyed senior facility management directors in the United States and Europe to see how AR helps them perform their jobs better, faster and more easily. Participating executives represented a variety of facilities and industries, including corporate offices, shopping and entertainment centres, hospitals and medical facilities, and more.
Across the board, facilities managers reported that AR is a top-of-mind tech advancement. One in five facilities management professionals have already implemented AR in some capacity. Among these early adopters, AR technology is most commonly used to power tours and virtual demonstrations in support of marketing departments. Other popular applications include industrial manufacturing, tenant and visitor services, and educational training programmes
Among the many business sectors represented by our survey participants, facility management professionals working at hospitals and medical centres have embraced AR more than any other group. Manufacturing facilities, educational facilities and corporate offices follow closely behind in AR adoption.
The report also illuminates the wide-ranging benefits of AR specifically for facilities managers and building operators. Almost half of survey participants identified automating maintenance processes as a key benefit. And while facilities managers grapple with the weight of repairs and everyday upkeep, it’s no surprise that preventative maintenance emerged as the greatest potential benefit of AR technology.
Opportunities for AR implementation in commercial buildings
It can be intimidating to deploy a brand new technology at scale across a commercial building or real estate enterprise. The facilities managers we surveyed worry that AR is too expensive; the number one hurdle to adoption is cost. One-third of participants report feeling that their staff is ill-equipped to manage AR, while another third don’t see enough demand for the technology. Others simply think it’s too complex.
But of facilities management professionals who haven’t yet implemented AR technology in their buildings, three out of four expect to introduce it within the next two years. Thirty percent of facilities managers who are already using or expecting to use AR pointed to new revenue opportunities as the technology’s greatest benefit, demonstrating just how easy it is to offset the perceived cost concern.
When it comes to plans for future adoption, almost half of facilities management executives reported they are most likely to use AR to improve their indoor navigation systems. Smart maintenance capabilities came in a close second place for future-focused implementation goals.
The rapid adoption of other adjacent technologies is also a good indicator that AR is carving its way into permanent facilities management strategies. Seventy-five percent of participants reported that the buildings they manage already rely on IoT-enabled devices to manage environment sensors, HVAC systems, security systems, doors and lighting. Because emerging technologies like IoT devices and their platforms are so complex, facilities managers using IoT systems in their buildings are more likely to turn to AR for support.
What investing in AR will mean for facilities managers
Facilities management is poised for explosive growth over the next 24 months and beyond. As technological transformation spreads to every corner of the industry, the proliferation of devices and platforms threatens to turn the built world into digital spaghetti. Facilities management professionals interested in keeping pace with and capitalising on modern innovation need to invest in the tools that knit the physical and digital layers together.
AR represents this next step in the evolution of facilities management. For building owners, the future looks like digital concierge services, smart preventative maintenance and even branded experiences, all powered by AR. AR technology will continue to help facilities management professionals streamline operations, improve tenant satisfaction and retention, unlock new revenue opportunities and so much more.
Gailia Rosen Schwarz
VP of business development