October 10, 2018 | Written by: Ralf Bumba, CEO, Apleona HSG BS GmbH
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Facility management is a tough sector, with specialized providers competing for market share with each other, as well as with in-house office management departments. In this kind of environment, it’s important to offer something extra to help your company stand out from the crowd.
At Apleona, we always set out with the practical goal of improving each customer’s day in every possible way. This philosophy, coupled with decades of high-quality maintenance and custodian services, has enabled us to build a strong, international brand.
We realized that we could go beyond this established facility management model by becoming a strategic partner to our corporate clients. With this in mind, we looked for ways to transform our offering.
Creating a platform for success
We enlisted IBM to help with the transformation and were immediately struck by the team’s enthusiasm and dynamism. Together, we conducted IBM Design Thinking workshops to help Apleona staff think of new solutions for our challenge. Employees really engaged with these sessions, producing some highly creative and truly innovative ideas.
From the workshops came the idea to build a platform called FacilyLife running on IBM Cloud. Available through a mobile app or web browser, FacilyLife aims to provide our customers with a range of useful workplace information. With help from IBM, we determined which details would add the most value to our customers’ daily routines.
Beating lines on the road and at lunch
First, we integrated real-time traffic data into FacilyLife to help customers on their commute. Next, we added data from the Weather Company, simplifying the process of choosing weather-appropriate clothing to work.
Using hybrid cloud manpower services and IBM Cloud services, including the IBM Cloudant database, Apleona created a ticketing function within FacilyLife for customers to report maintenance issues. This accelerates the repair process. Rather than using the intranet to report the problem, customers photograph the broken item in FacilyLife. An engineer can then identify and solve the issue quickly and easily. By piecing together multiple incident reports, we will be able to provide our clients with an up-to-the-minute picture of the health of their buildings. In the future, we may also use visual-recognition software to identify equipment faults.
Finally, we incorporated information from office caterers into the app, enabling employees to check the office cafeteria’s menu for the day, including allergens and wider nutritional information. We also plan to create a cafeteria occupancy-detection tool, enabling customers to plan mealtimes to avoid the longest lines.
We are confident that IBM Cloud will provide excellent availability for FacilyLife while meeting our clients’ high security requirements. IBM Cloud also makes it easy for us to integrate third-party application programming interfaces into the platform and scale up to meet increasing demand. Another major factor in our choice of provider was the IBM reputation for reliability and high performance.
Shifting from reactive management to proactive partnering
One of our largest clients has already begun using FacilyLife, and initial feedback has been excellent. We have shown the platform to other clients too, and they have been keen to start using it.
The value-add services that FacilyLife provides are a real game-changer for our business. We are moving from a passive facility manager role towards becoming a proactive, strategic partner to our clients. By differentiating ourselves from our competitors, we can form closer relationships with our clients and foster loyalty.
Already, we are looking to the future and are developing additional functionality for FacilyLife. A persistent issue for offices is inefficient use of space; for instance, reserved rooms often being empty. To combat this, we are developing an interactive room-booking solution to enable employees to book rooms by scanning a QR code. The system will also automatically release vacant rooms to be rebooked.
Over time, FacilyLife will provide us with extremely useful data on how offices are used. This will help us give valuable advice to our clients on how to manage their space more efficiently. An example of this might be closing certain parts of offices on Fridays, when occupancy is typically lower, to cut heating and air conditioning costs.
The services that FacilyLife provides aren’t rocket science. When building the platform, we aimed to provide a set of simple, practical tools to ease and enhance the lives of our clients. We are confident that with the support of IBM, we have already made major strides towards achieving this goal. We look forward to working closely with IBM and our clients to develop FacilyLife even further and make the office a better place to be.
Learn more about IBM Cloudant.