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Facility management comprises a broad continuum of services which require to build a suitable environment that can enhance performance of functions and activities for which the facility is intended for. The management activities of a facility entail the day to day activities which are critical in its operation and maintenance. For that matter, for the facility to operate to its peak efficiency and effectiveness, there must be measures put in place to promote its smooth operation.
As a result, technology becomes an important tool that should be used to ensure facility’s smooth operation and proper maintenance. In relation to this, the MacDonald Restaurants are a group of hotels that have branches widespread in all the continents all over the world. Their core services offer catering and hotel services.
Nonetheless, this group of hotels has been called the best catering service provider in the world on several occasions. For that reason, facility management in this organization is regarded as one of the driving forces behind the accolade performance in this line of business. However, their effective facility management has been attributed to effective use of technology.
Therefore, this paper presents a research that was conducted in the field of facility management which was intended to determine the role of technology. the MacDonald Restaurants group was used as a case study. Moreover, challenges that exhibit themselves in facility management were also explored.
In addition, the field of the facility management presented some opportunities and, therefore, they were also considered in the study. Nonetheless, emerging trends in this field were covered. Importantly, it is worth noting that this research was conducted to determine the relevance of technology in facility management particularly to the hospitality industry. For that matter, the results of the study were, therefore, generalized in the entire hospitality industry.
Result of the research
In relation to the research conducted, several issues relating to the role of technology in facility management were established. To begin with, it was evident that maintenance procedure in facility management can be computerized. This can be done in form of an automated maintenance system for the facility management. The automated information system can be used to manage the day to day activities by tracking and monitoring the status of the maintenance and related costs of those activities.
On the other hand, the automated systems not only provide tools for managing activities metrics that are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the operations and maintenance activities. For that matter, it was established that for an organization that is able to use automated systems in its operation and maintenance activities, key performance indicators are usually provided to be used as performance guidelines.
This leads to increased productivity due to effectiveness and efficiency that are key determinants for business growth. This was evident in the MacDonald Restaurants as the automated management systems were largely used for maintenance of their facilities. This was noted as one of the major contributions to its business growth.
Moreover, it was established by the study carried out that introduction of technology to management of the facility resulted in delivering of services in a shorter period compared to the catering with the traditional systems. In addition, some services that are currently being provided by technology based systems did not used the manual systems. Just like Atkin and Adrian (108) affirmed the automation facilitated faster service provision than the traditional manual systems.
Challenges facing the role of technology in facility management
Technologies have been regarded as a panacea to effective management of business activities. This is still the case in facility management since a lot of stakeholders regard technology as the best solution to management problems of these facilities. In relation to this, the study carried out established that application of technology in facility management had challenges that threatened their effective management.
To begin with, it was evident from the research conducted that application of technology in this organization raised the issue of obsolescence. Users of the technological systems that are applied in management of facilities in MacDonald Restaurants were more concerned with technology becoming obsolete too fast. This was attributed to its high rate of advancement. Therefore, the advancement dictates that the systems should be changed from time to time. After a very short period, replacement of systems in the organization raises the operational expenses of the organization which at some point contribute to poor financial performance.
Moreover, it was acknowledged by Piercy (56) that any technological system is likely to fail in the process of its operation. This is a challenge that technology experiences in the management of facilities. In the design of any system, its engineering is usually assumed to be in a remarkable state.
Therefore, prediction of its failure is normally elusive at this point. However, the more complex the technology may appear, the more likely it is to fail. According to Tichy (89), any technology can fail because of different reasons which include mismatch of the modules, poor design and development among other reasons.
As a result, it was established by the study that technology failure results in more adverse and costly consequences. For instance, critical failure of these systems leads to disruption of processes, especially if they are real time systems where irreversible effects are usually used.
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Nonetheless, these unpredicted risks can result in the total failure of the entire system, hence paralyzing activities of the organization. In relation to this, the study established that most organizations usually try to put in place measures that are designed to minimize or prevent the failures. In most cases, this usually increases their total operating costs.
In addition, it was acknowledged by Atkin and Adrian (23) that any technology always presents some side effects. Furthermore, it was established by the study conducted in the MacDonald Restaurants that despite having the technology with the desired benefits to the organization, it also presents some unwarranted effects which affect the organization negatively.
For instance, it was stated by Tichy (103) that working conditions of a system might be safer when the substances are molded rather than when they are squashed. Moreover, in some cases, substances that are used in the production may affect the workers as well as harm the entire public in general. For instance, workers who constantly use computers in their work processes in facility management usually suffer eye related problems which in turn lead to isolation by others.
In regard to this, it was acknowledged by Nutt and Peter (42) that these effects affect not only big technologies but also their small counterparts. For instance, it was found out due to the research conducted that ordinary technologies normally applied on a small scale in the hotel industry have collective side effects in their usage. For instance, though refrigerators which are used on an every day basis have constructively contributed to preservation of food, they have a gas outflow in their cooling system which has a negative impact on the surroundings.
Still, it was postulated by David et al (34) that these negative effects are usually not expected because of lack of resources to foresee them. Moreover, most of them are not predictable because of their complexity. As a result, Tichy (54) postulated that some side effects have turned out to be economically unacceptable, unethical and in some cases resulting to conflicts in the organizations in which they are being used.
Opportunities of technology in facility management
Technology presents a broad range of opportunities in facility management. According to David et al (24), this fact is ascribed to the fact that organizations usually have the aim of keeping low operational costs. Therefore, integration of technology in the management activities becomes one of the aims that can be achieved.
As a result, organizations, such as the MacDonald Restaurants, have opted to adoption of technology in their operations in order to keep their operational cost at a reasonably low levelThus, according to the research conducted, it was established that the need for innovation in organizations presents bountiful opportunities for the incorporation of technology in facility management.
In respect to this, it was evident from the study conducted that there is a need for quantity and quality changes in support services. This is usually required in the facility management as it provides an opportunity for technology to be incorporated in their management. For instance, opportunity to use technology can come in through application of a central support desk in the organization. Bigger organizations may be comprised of numerous departments which may be dispersed from each other.
In such environments, it was believed by Atkin and Adrian (145) that a centralized support desk should be put in place in order to handle queries. Therefore, this provides an opportunity to incorporate technology. The technological tools, such as information communication technologies, can provide such kind of services in a manual based environment effectively.
Moreover, the need for sustainability has resulted in an increased need for innovation in organizations operations. This has in turn further opportunities for technology incorporation. For that matter, using technology in facility management remains one of the ways through which organizations have stretched their resources for sustainability.
For instance, from the study conducted, it was established that organizations are adopting enterprise resource planning systems which help attain higher level of sustainability. From the study, it was established that enterprise resource planning systems contribute immensely to achieving effective service delivery.
As a result, the need for sustainability has brought forth technological innovation in the facility management operations in organizations. For instance, the need to save on space has given technology an opportunity to be applied in the facility management functions. This has, therefore, influence the space management functions that are used to attain sustainability. For instance, technology is applied in creation of space inventory that is desired to manage organization’s space more economically and effectively.
Moreover, technology is also put in use to manage equipment and furniture through tracking techniques which as a result, lead to facilities accountability. According to Georgoulis (89), accountability of equipment that is facilitated by automated systems has resulted in sustainability of these organizations. This was exhibited through the study carried out in the MacDonald Restaurants as the effective management of their facilities was attributed to application of automated systems.
Moreover, due to the need for sustainability of business activities in terms of information management, there has been creation of opportunities for technology. For instance, space management issues have resulted in the need of using technology in management of organization’s databases. For example, from the study conducted, it was established that database management systems are largely applied in management of their information.
This is taken as one of the best mechanisms of managing space in the organization. Additionally, application of database management systems also enhances sustainability of organizations through provision of effective and efficient services to stakeholders. This is made possible due to its capability of providing a bi-directional interface that is able to connect different departments of the organization remotely.
Nevertheless, it was opined by Gerard (27) that challenges that present themselves to the organization are opportunities through which technology can be banked on its advancement. For instance, in the operation of these organizations, environmental factors, such as accelerated population growth and continued depletion of energy resources, present negative challenges to organizations. However, despite these factors having negative effects, they show an opportunity for technology application in trying to solve them.
Therefore, this gives an opportunity to design sustainable technologies that can utilize the limited resources more effectively in order to make these organizations robust in their activities. This was evident from the research conducted in the MacDonald Restaurants which indicated that the company adopted new technologies in their facility management in order to save on resources that could deplete natural resources in the environment.
Furthermore, facility management presents security issues that need to be addressed to assure long term sustainability. For that reason, they present a number of opportunities to technology since in the current times, security is provided by automated systems. This is so since security systems have advanced over time, hence they provide facility managers with the capability to expand the scope of their security measures.
For instance, instead of using traditional guards, organizations are adopting new technologies by current developments, such as cameras and sensor systems, which are real time operational systems that are able to give signals to key operational situations.
This was evident from the study conducted since it emerged that the group of restaurants had replaced all their physical security measures with automated systems that were able to secure their facility. This was done through application of tracking systems which were able to trace every facility within their premise.
In relation to this, it is acknowledged by Barrett and David (235) that organizations began applying automated intelligence systems which are able to monitor any aspect of the facility being managed. This has, however, resulted in a value proposition for organizations since they became able to monitor all operations.
For example, in retail business setting as that of the MacDonald Restaurants, the system is able to track movement in and out of the storage rooms and also check those of the products purchased and sold. As a result, the organization is able to gain some value in the facility management.
Trends in the role of technology in facility management
In facility management just like other disciplines, there are several expected trends. These trends are projected to shape the way the discipline will be managed in the future. For that matter, these trends of technology in facility management can be broadly categorized into three. These are externally motivated trends, internally motivated trends and organizationally motivated trends.
To begin with, externally motivated trends are usually determined by the societal factors. For instance, according to Nutt and Peter (231), the need for sustainability by organizations in their business operations is a trend that will continue to be experienced. This is ascribed to the fact that competition in the environment is steadily growing hence the need to position an organization strategically to have some competitive edge.
Therefore, for that to be possible, it is believed by Elaine (136) that sustainability in the present business operation is only made possible by adoption of technology which is robust in the business environment. Therefore, as the rate of competition in the operating environment increases, thus the adoption of technology will be necessary to maintain the sustainability required. As a result, the trend for sustainability in facility management will continuously increase.
Moreover, the external motivated trends dictate that systems that result in complex building structures will continue to offer challenges and opportunities. These will increase integration of technology in the management of facilities in these organizations. This implies that the more the building technology continues to grow, the more technology will be required to be integrated into their management.
However, it was acknowledged by Thomas and Christopher (94) that this trend will result in the need to train professionals in the field of facility management. This is so since development of complicated technology will surely arise the need of advanced skills and knowledge to manage these facilities.
Contrary to the emergence of the complex structures in the future, it is also important to acknowledge that with the existing building structures, the future trends are also categorized by aging. This, therefore, brings forth the challenges of management since these structures and current systems are likely to exceed their desired operating lives hence bringing in the issue of replacing or repairing them. Consequently, this will mean spending an additional cost in the management of these facilities.
In addition, the second trend in the role of technology in facility management relates to internally motivated trends. According to Tichy (78), these are trends that originate from within the discipline of facility management itself. For instance, Effy (34) alluded that the data was increasing in complexity and quantity which in some cases, overwhelmed effort of their management. However, despite the current increase in quantity and complexity, it still expected that this would continue to be the trend in facility management.
This is likely to result to information overload that poses a risk to its effective management. For that matter, this trend is likely to present negative effects in management of these facilities. This was affirmed by the research conducted in the MacDonald Restaurants since automated systems that were used to manage their facilities were noted to collect and process a lot of information. This was feared that it could lead to information overload if necessary measures were not put in place.
Lastly, the third trend relates to organizationally motivated trends which originate from the organization itself. For instance, in most organizations, there are trends of increasing and expanding expectations of management of these facilities to include both business and technical acumen. This requires to have a developed skill set for the individuals to manage these activities.
Nonetheless, it is also expected that the trends will change the working styles significantly in order to conform to the new technologies that will be in place. According to Piercy (23), due to the technological changes and advancement that are being experienced in facility management, working styles will also considerably change.
Therefore, organizations should always be willing and ready to adapt to the new technology and working styles. This was affirmed by the research conducted in the MacDonald Restaurants which showed that automated systems keep on changing from time to time and as they do so, working styles are also forced to follow them.
To wind up, it is important to acknowledge that facility management presents a variety of opportunities to technology. This has made technology to be one of the key aspects of facility management discipline. However, it is also relatively important to note that application of technology in facility management is faced by several challenges.
Nonetheless, it is important to establish a balance between the weaknesses and strengths of using technology in order to have an equilibrium that will guarantee the effectiveness and efficiency of facility management as required.
Nevertheless, it is acknowledged by David et al (112) that challenges that face facility management in themselves present an opportunity through which technology can explore in order to provide better service delivery. For instance, it is believed that challenges relating to negative environmental effects that may be viewed as results of activities of facility management can be addressed smoothly through use of technology that is environmental friendly.
On the other hand, it is important to acknowledge that there are several trends that are expected to exhibit themselves in the field of facility management. These trends are likely to create new opportunities in the integration of technology in the facility management.
They are broadly classified into three categories of internally, externally and organizationally motivated issues. In all these trends, they provide opportunity for technology to be integrated in the management of facilities. Therefore, they should be capitalized on to improve service delivery.
In conclusion, from the research conducted in the MacDonald Restaurants, it was established that technology has a major role in the facility management to hospitality industry in a wider spectrum. This ranges from provision of security to the facility and its accountability. Therefore, it is relatively important for facility managers to prioritize integrating technology in their management activities and functions.
For that matter, as the hospitality industry evolves over time, it is important for this aspect to be prioritized in order to gain management effectiveness and efficiency. Therefore, it is recommended for the hotel managers to adopt technology in the management of their organizations. Moreover, they should keep on changing with technology to be able to remain relevant in the business environment. This will surely guarantee their competitive edge.
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