FM firms adapt to new normal as demand surges
The UAE's FM sector is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 10 per cent to reach $27 billion by 2024.
Facilities management (FM) companies in the UAE are facing higher pressure to deliver services as customer demands spiral with the new normal in place.
The UAE's FM sector was valued at $13.8 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 10 per cent to reach $27 billion by 2024, according to Research and Markets report.
Prabhu Ramachandran, founder and CEO of Facilio, said: "FM companies will need to plan ahead and preempt evolving tenant expectations, as economies recover from the aftermath of the pandemic. Delivering the best possible occupant experiences, at optimised cost, will become even more of differentiating factor in evaluating FM service providers."
FM firms are preparing to embrace their role as strategic partners, in the safe re-opening of offices. To do so effectively, they will need to adopt appropriate resources, strategies and technologies, to operate in this new normal.
"Technology will be a key pillar, in adapting to the new normal. We have already seen operatives that had a digital structure in place respond better to the pandemic, in comparison to those who didn't. Being able to make data-informed decisions, in real-time and at portfolio scale, will be a powerful enabler for CRE operatives looking to adopt the agile operational model they will need to succeed in today's new normal," said Ramachandran.
The industry is expected to have a medium to low impact as FM, being an essential service, will only be subject to limited scale downs, pointed out Tariq Chauhan, group CEO of EFS Facilities Services Group.
"The economic slowdown will definitely lead to deferment of the existing pipeline that will impact new revenue growth on a low-medium basis. The industry is likely to have a U-curve recovery ," he said.
"However, this U-curve recovery is subject to those industry players adding new service lines, tapping new opportunities, finding efficiencies, leveraging on saving opportunities on supply chain and overheads. The industry is to be mindful of likely contractual disputes due to Covid-19 force majeure and distressed contractual exits. Whilst margins are squeezed, and cash flow pressures are building, the government regulations on Covid-19 compliances are helping the industry to reap the benefits from disinfection."
Resumption of activities, in the new normal, will depend on occupants being confident that premises have been secured against the spread of the contagion. FM companies are proactively turning to connected building technologies, to ensure these outcomes.
Sanjeevv Bhatia, chief executive of Netix Global, said: "FM companies are harnessing the benefits of tech-led facilities management, remote control centres and insights-led decision making to meet the rising customer expectations post-Covid. The previous reopening of offices, and businesses such as malls, restaurants and other commercial centres, has given us insights into the measures that will be necessary. And more and more FM companies are harnessing the benefits of tech-led facilities management, remote control centres and insights-led decision making to meet the rising customer expectations post Covid."
Bhatia further added: "Building owners and operators will need to accelerate the digitisation of their assets, in order to make informed, data-driven decisions, and ensure agile operations. Facilities managers need to ensure that tenants have access to touchless comfort control, and app based access to services. Doing so will require the adoption of full spectrum, cloud-based interoperability. Remote digital access to building automation and workforce monitoring will be equally important for FM operators themselves. This includes the ability to monitor the compliance to regulatory requirements in real-time, identify discrepancies and take quick and targeted corrective measures."
UAE-based facilities management services provider, Emrill, has been awarded a five-year contract by logistics giant, Aramex. The scope of the contract includes mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP), housekeeping and specialist services across the company's seven facilities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Stuart Harrison, Emrill's CEO, said: "We are delighted to embark on this new partnership with Aramex, one of the region's largest logistics providers. We understand the criticality of the services offered by Aramex. Logistics and the requirement for goods to be moved efficiently have become more important than ever before for many companies and individuals, as we face the challenges of a global pandemic, including movement restrictions and reduced travel."
The industry is going through a fundamental change where facility management companies must provide increased level of service quality while keeping their cost low to meet the customer demands. The FM technologies are able to provide smarter and more efficient solutions for the customers while lowering the operational cost for the FM firms.
"The demand for FM services drastically increased during the time of the pandemic as customers are increasingly asking higher levels of hygiene, control, and cleanliness in shared accommodation," said Saboor Ahmad, CEO of Servhub which is in charge of labour accommodation across various locations in Dubai.
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