Technology advancements are changing facilities management in disruptive, yet positive ways. We recently sat down with our CTO Gint Grabauskas to hear more about how technology trends will have an impact on our industry.
Q: You recently did a significant amount of field research with clients and service providers as part of Vixxo’s mission to develop best-in-class technology. What was the most surprising thing you learned from this research?
A: We have a great opportunity to delight our clients and service providers by delivering an elegant, personal, consumer-grade experience to the B2B market. Trust, transparency, service – these are words you won’t always find in the facilities industry. But at Vixxo, we are developing technology that looks beautiful, is fast and easy to use and helps our clients and service providers improve their businesses.
Q: What do you see as the biggest pain point for facilities managers today that can be eased by the new technology Vixxo is developing? What about for service providers?
A: Facilities managers want information at their fingertips without the wait. They want technology to predict downtime before it occurs, keep them informed about the performance of assets and advise on the best course of action – all via intuitive visuals that load quickly on any device. We’re developing technology that will give facilities managers a snapshot of each of their assets in simple color-coded visuals (red, yellow, green) that indicate which may need attention.
Technology addresses different pain points for service providers. For them, technology has to translate into billing efficiencies, quick and intuitive workflows and easy access to thousands of data points regarding the equipment at hand.
During a recent field visit, I climbed on a roof to observe an HVAC repair with two terrific service providers; one a seasoned veteran and the other a millennial. The seasoned service provider said to me, “Gint, I don’t want to use the mobile device; I don’t like technology. I just want to pick up the phone and talk to a human when I’m stuck.” Upon which the millennial quickly responded, “Don’t listen to him. I don’t want to call or talk to anyone. I want to click some buttons and be done.” Our technology will help both these individuals by enabling self-service options through tools that are easy, trustworthy and transparent.
Q: The Facilities Management industry is quickly changing based on technology and data analytics. Where do you see the industry headed over the next three to five years?
A: The Internet of Things (IoT) has a lot of potential in the facilities management industry. Many devices being developed and manufactured today are network-enabled and can transmit data. The key will be to build a platform that can continuously learn in real-time by taking millions of data points and assembling a neural system that can provide intelligence to the hundreds or thousands of assets that a facilities manager or service provider may interact with on any given day.
Q: How will Artificial Intelligence play a role in facilities maintenance?
A: Imagine you’re tracking millions of data points from machines “phoning home”, in near-real-time, and using those insights to advise your facilities managers. For example, I’m a convenience store owner who has a coffee machine that’s about to break, and I have an Alexa unit, or something similar, in my store office. Alexa will say, “Hey Gint, Vixxo predicts that your coffee machine is going to fail in about three days and suggests that you replace it. Would you like us to order it for you?” That may sound like science fiction, but that’s what the future looks like to us.
In three to five years, we’ll leverage machines that talk to other machines, and call on us to fix them. And our technology will be right in the middle of it.
Q: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A: BCBU is an acronym that I live by which stands for: Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.
Technology moves so fast that you can’t expect to know all the answers. That applies in my role, too. I believe in surrounding myself with smart people, collectively discussing ideas, and making decisions quickly – even if you don’t have all of the answers. Otherwise, you’re simply not growing at the pace the business requires.