When your phone rings, or more than likely buzzes, the last thing you probably think about is the condition of the cell tower that the signal is coming from. But, for the telecom companies routing your calls and transmitting your data, this is very top of mind. The now $1.4 trillion dollar telecom industry depends on the nearly five million cell towers that blanket the habitable part of the earth with their signals (except, apparently, my home office).
So how do the physical transmitters for our mobile world stay operational? Well, they hire people like Prabhu Ramanchandran, CEO & Co-founder of Facilio, a data-driven building operations and maintenance platform. Prabhu spent his early career helping telecom companies create solutions for their growing real estate holdings. During that time he learned the need to scale solutions across a large portfolio. So, he started thinking about ways to take this same mentality into creating a property industry tool.
What property owners and operators can learn from telecom
One of the things that makes buildings complicated is that they have lots of independent systems created by different companies in different industries. Yet to make managing a building as easy as possible you have to find a way to connect all of these systems together. The difficult talk of integrating desperate applications is exactly the kind of thing that people like Prabu were brought into do. He knew that bringing these systems together was the only way to have centralized intelligence about operations that was necessary to run large operations. “Having a central platform of other apps to live on is what we see in many other large industries like supply chain management or IT,” he said.
Prabhu then went on to apply his expertise in creating platforms for the general property industry to become one of the founders of Facilio, a facilities management technology platform that functions as an operating system for buildings. He worked with clients to help them find ways to digitize almost every conceivable aspect of building operations. He got traction from clients that viewed this kind of technology as a great way to improve their bottom lines and reduce the work needed to manage portfolios.
New office needs to teach buildings new tricks
Then, the coronavirus stuck. And the conversation around building automation quickly went from saving money to saving lives. Buildings around the world now had to prove to their occupants that they were doing everything possible to keep them safe from this terrible disease. Prabhu saw his clients not only creating advanced dashboards that track sanitation. Some of them even went so far as to install displays with this information in their lobby to try to ease occupants’ minds about the cleanliness and safety of their buildings.
As buildings do open up the property and facility managers are having to relearn their jobs. So much of what we knew about things like access control, occupancy sensing, and ventilation has changed as we are all reinventing our world around an infectious disease. Buildings have many new things to consider and so the platforms that they run on have to be able to adapt accordingly. All of the changes that need to be made to a buildings facilities workflow are further complicated by quickly changing local guidelines and new information about how buildings can help stop the spread of the disease.
The operational insights that come with centralization
Even though the COVID-19 virus seems to have been contained to certain hotspots, the fallout from it is going to affect us all. Likewise, every building, whether it was in a hard hit area or not, will also have to adhere to new guidelines. To make this kind of sweeping change to a property portfolio, the buildings need to be on one system. Just like how cell towers are all able to work in unison without as much as a millisecond hiccup (except for all the ones around my home office which seem to go out every half an hour or so), buildings need to be able to work together. Doing this at scale is no easy feat. But, not to worry, there are people like Prabhu, connecting countless building systems so you don’t have to.