Partnering is key to bridging FM’s digital divide say IWFM and Microsoft


  • Research,
  • Technology

25 November 2020

The Institute of Facilities and Workplace Management (IWFM) and Microsoft have collaborated on a new ‘hands-on’ report, Bridging FM’s Digital Divide to help the profession overcome the tech barrier and realise its considerable potential to impact workplace performance.

Aimed at increasing digital literacy in the profession, rather than thinking we all have to become technology experts overnight, this practical report focuses on how to harness the digital knowledge and expertise of others through partnerships. Published today, it uses fictional and real examples to explore what a digitally transformed profession might look like.

The top three priorities for the facilities professional according to the report are: first, improve your knowledge and understanding of existing and emerging digital technologies and their benefits; second partner with digital technology companies to understand the art of the possible and identify solutions to real world problems; and third avoid being “done to” by influencing the application of new digital tech with your workplace and facilities expertise, so you can ‘own’ the future.

IWFM Chairman and hands-on FM Martin G Bell, FIWFM said:

“Today’s report is a key step on a route to enabling our profession to help organisations to create connected and successful workplaces. I hope it will be the first of many insights to help us to understand and navigate the technology and experience matters which can combine to create people centred workplaces capable of driving better outcomes”.

Director of Insight and Engagement Chris Moriarty said

“The pace of technological change is increasing before our eyes, each time shaking up the way we work. The workplace and facilities profession needs to be anticipating and preparing for this inevitability and open to the opportunities as well as the threats it presents.

“We’ve got to change FM’s mindset from one that sees technology as helping to do a job - such as managing the building - to redefining the job as one which helps everyone else do theirs - enabling communities. It is a shift that underpins our repositioning to IWFM. 

This report, Bridging FM’s Digital Divide – The power of Digital partnerships is the first output of IWFM’s relationship with Microsoft announced a year ago his week. Its starting point is the challenge identified by IWFM’s 2018 research Embracing Technology to Move FM Forward which found a low level of knowledge of digital technologies in the workplace and facilities profession and highlighted a need for it to be able to bridge it’s ‘digital divide’ if it is to realise its considerable potential to impact workplace performance.

The research collaboration set out to explore a vision for the future of technology and its role in shaping workplaces and their performance.  Advancements such as AI, smart and big data, combined with existing technologies such as BIM, analytics and workplace design can support improved building and business outcomes. 

Read the report here.