While we have seen a considerable shift over the past 20 years from mainly on-premise management of documents and drawings to management of information ‘in the cloud’, the focus tended to be on accelerating the once largely paper-based design and construction processes, not on the rest of a built asset’s operational life.
Moving towards FM in the cloud
With a few honourable exceptions (some mentioned in the previous post about Combinder), the opportunity to extend re-use of electronic information held by SaaS collaboration vendors beyond commissioning and handover has tended to be overlooked. Now part of Aconex, Conject (with its infrastructure lifecycle management, ILM, strategy and a portfolio including FM solutions), and competitors McLaren Software (acquiring CAFM Explorer) and iSite (promoting its ‘Assetology’ Hub approach since 2012)* all looked to be moving towards so-called ‘cradle-to-grave’ information management, but most of their rivals have largely focused on project delivery rather than the follow-on asset lifecycle management.
The ongoing digitisation of construction – evidenced by growing adoption of collaborative Building Information Modelling (BIM) and of mobile solutions, plus increased use of sensors and ‘internet of things’ (IoT) – surely leads logically to the eventual digitisation of operation and maintenance and of facility management. I say “eventual” as, clearly, many FM colleagues will first need to inherit models and associated data created by designers and constructors (though, of course, there is also an opportunity for FM professionals to be in at the start, defining owner/operator’s information requirements so that project delivery concurrently creates the data they will need to manage the resulting built asset).
What will also be needed will be FM tools that can take relevant data from BIM and provide similarly agile cloud-based support for collaborative operation and maintenance processes, with built asset records routinely updated in real-time throughout the asset’s lifecycle. Many FM solutions tend to be traditional on-premise solutions (notable exceptions include Qube Global, and SWG’s QFM, while Planon includes a cloud service alternative), but to date I’ve seen few vendors actively marketing cloud-based BIM-to-FM solutions (though Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD cousin ArchiFM springs to mind). The market is therefore ripe for some SaaS disruption.
So I was interested to hear from Australia-based SaaS FM startup Zuuse. This company, with offices in Brisbane and Melbourne, provides “an asset lifecycle solution blending 3D BIM capability, mobility and information management.”
Zuuse has also recently acquired another FM software company, BEIMS, further consolidating the Australian FM software market in the process (news release). According to Jason Lilienstein, Zuuse’s CEO:
“The landscape is rapidly changing. There is a large, growing market that is traditionally underinvested. Total IT spend on facilities management worldwide is forecast to grow from $24.6b in 2014 to $43.7b in 2019. There is enormous opportunity in the existing, fragmented, market. Asset owners are demanding new and innovative ways to manage their buildings and infrastructure. There is currently no product in the market that spans the complete asset lifecycle. It’s populated by a myriad of fragmented products, producing silos of information that, whilst useful, do not deliver the building owner, as the ultimate client, what they need.”
Zuuse says it has brought these together in a suite of modules and mobile device apps that can provide standalone or fully integrated functionality. Customers can pick and choose what they need, all delivered on a simple pay-as-you-go SaaS basis. It says it is taking BIM into FM and with mobile apps allowing FM teams to perform everyday tasks easily in the field, with “ground breaking technology, including Zuuse Qube, a 3D visualisation and data app built on the Unity gaming platform” (another video; no connection with the afore-mentioned Qube Global).
BEIMS provides FM software to 120 customers and is used in over 15,000 buildings including hospitals, universities, airports and commercial buildings throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. Customers include Australian Red Cross, Mater Health, Monash University, Wellington Airport and Sky City Casino. Garry Busowsky, founder of BEIMS, says:
“By combining newer innovative offerings like Zuuse, with established solutions like BEIMS, customers can benefit from new world technology alongside the depth and solid reliability that comes with experience. This acquisition also gives our existing clients a clear pathway into new technologies with the reassurance that the functionality that they have grown to depend on is running at its core.”
* A note: In past years, I have reported regularly on iSite’s financial performance (most recently in September 2015). However, following changes to parent Styles & Wood’s reporting practices, iSite’s results are now reported alongside other businesses in “Portfolio Services”, so we now have less visibility of its performance.