Will Microsoft Take Over Facilities Management?

May 1, 2013


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How would the average facilities manager feel if he or she could solve problems large and small merely with the click of a mouse?

According to a recent news article, software giant Microsoft claims its smart building system can process an amazing 500 million data transactions collected from some 2 million data points strategically located in its 125 buildings every 24 hours, spread over nearly 15 million square feet of office space,

What’s more impressive is 48% of the problems Microsoft’s smart building system detects are corrected within 60 seconds. Based on this data, the Redmond, Wash., company also forecasts an annual energy savings of between 6-10 percent annually.

Does this sound like a dream come true, or still a fantasy to those who still use Microsoft products? The Office suite, namely Excel and Word, are utilized on a daily basis to keep track of facility management functions. They are an integral component of day-to-day operations

It helps to have some $60 million to spend on a project that focuses more on data-driven solutions than applying what Microsoft calls an “Internet of Things meets Big Data” approach.

Darrell Smith, Microsoft’s Operations and Energy Manager, views this latest solution as the start of a smarter way to save energy globally, especially with commercial buildings expending nearly 40% of the world’s total energy.

However, some facilities management experts are a bit more realistic and skeptical about Microsoft’s recent accomplishments. The complex nature of facilities management makes it difficult to create and implement a quick fix with just the click of a mouse.

For starters, the article “Is Microsoft the Future of Facilities Maintenance and Management?”  describes the ease of solving problems by reacting to them with just the click of a mouse.  The “ease” that Microsoft states is, at the expense of skilled engineers. Their experience becomes devalued and taken for granted. It takes a considerable amount of technical skills and knowledge to be proactive and ready to address any and all problems.

It is absolutely vital to not underrate the significance of a facilities manager and the need for preventative maintenance and inspections, not to mention the probability of unplanned events — think fires, power outages and random acts of Mother Nature — is also extremely risky.

Even the best sensors and computing power, even with the backing of Microsoft’s billions, can fail unexpectedly. Technology cannot possibly replace the skills of a veteran facility manager who has seen it all first-hand. The experience and knowledge can’t be replaced with new software.

Yes, Microsoft’s “The City of the Future” is just that, but, not for today.

For more information about automated facilities management systems, contact Vanguard Resources.