Dubai’s and the region’s Smart City & Sustainability aspirations are driving an emphasis on identifying opportunities to embrace innovation. Facilio – a start up headquartered in Atlanta USA, and with operations across Middle East and India, has been steadily creating a reputation for its Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and IoT based approach to facilities management, helping buildings operate better, increasing their energy efficiency and enhancing livability. We spoke to Founder and CEO Prabhu Ramachandran to gain an insight into the company’s approach.
In your estimation what is the scope for transformation in Dubai’s built landscape – especially in context of Expo 2020 and the Dubai Smart City & sustainability drive?
As our primary living environments, buildings account for the vast majority of our energy usage, are central to our lifestyle aspirations and are key to the connected city model. Essentially, a good chunk of Dubai’s Smart City and Sustainability goals can be met through smarter, more optimal and more livable buildings.
While building automation has come a long way since its inception a few decades ago, it still leaves a lot to be desired. And Dubai’s Built environment is also struggling with the same pain-points that are bogging down the industry worldwide – legacy siloed systems, long implementation cycles of traditional FM software vendors, high capex and opex expenditure, and a constant fire-fighting mode to managing buildings. As the market gets more competitive, commercial real estate owners (CRE’s) and FM’s are also under great pressure to improve ROI and focus on improving customer experience (CX) while meeting Dubai’s Smart City & sustainability regulations and expectations. But the inflexibility and rigid infrastructure of legacy systems has been making it impossible for these real estate stakeholders to evolve to meet these changing needs.
With its software-led approach, Facilio breaks these boundaries, and empowers CRE’s by helping unify building performance in real-time, across portfolios, to deliver continuous efficiency. Using IoT and AI, we extract powerful insights from the goldmine of performance data available on existing automation systems and enable portfolio-wide visibility and insight-led decision-making. This puts commercial real estate owners (CRE’s) in the driver’s seat to centrally control operations and sustainability, across their building portfolio, and transcend from the age-old reactive maintenance model to one that belongs in the future – predictive & focused on experiences.
Additionally, Building Facilities Management is heavily workforce driven, and there is tremendous scope to make the workforce smarter with tech enabled FM, which is a key part of being “smart”. Similarly buildings assets in Dubai, especially old stock, can benefit greatly from cost and time effective digital retrofit solution, helping them to leapfrog to the modern era of high-tech, software driven Smart buildings, enabling energy savings and sustainability, while also enhancing ROI.
Buildings with automated and intelligent operations are the basis of smart cities and smart economies. AI, Machine Learning and IoT based facilities management is the path to realize Dubai’s Smart Vision of buildings that run efficiently, predictably & sustainably, while offering municipal and city level connectivity for additional optimization and larger scale integration.
We therefore see tremendous scope to enable massive transformation in Dubai’s as ell as the region’s built environment with our software-led approach.
Could you tell us a bit about the origins of Facilio and what inspired you to identify the opportunity in the built environment for technology-led facilities management?
Facilio began with the vision of providing comprehensive real-time control over operating and managing buildings and building portfolios. Our passion was to bring in technology driven efficiencies in Facilities Management, and enable economies of scale by executing it at a portfolio level.
Research indicates that nearly 5-6 times more money is spent on Operational Costs than on Construction Costs. We realized early on what these numbers implied – that the potential to bring about tech-enabled operational efficiencies to the built environment was huge.
Also, the market was ripe for change. The inability of CRE’s and FM’s to remain agile and adapt quickly to changing consumer needs and to the growing focus on ROI & sustainability led to a growing demand for disruption in the building automation space. And technology’s ability to enable rapid change was becoming common knowledge as tech-disrupted industries continued to grow. As building stakeholders struggled with disparate automation systems functioning in siloes in a rigid, Capex-heavy and time intensive environment, our software-led approach provided the much needed unified, real-time, predictive solution to realize portfolio-wide efficiencies. And this is why Facilio was conceived – to address the specific pain points of CRE’s and building stakeholders.
Founded in 2017 by cloud and IoT veterans Prabhu Ramachandran, Rajavel Subramanian, Yogendra Babu and Krishnamoorthi Rangasamy, Facilio offers real-time facilities management to commercial real estate owners, using IoT and AI to predictively optimize operations and sustainability, while providing a superior tenant experience.
How does Facilio differentiate itself from other smart building operators in the market?
We have built Facilio with efficiency at its core, to put Building owners and FM heads in the drivers seat of operating their portfolio of buildings in real-time, relieving them from siloed operations and everyday firefighting, and enabling them to focus on efficiency.
Vendor specific hardware and legacy software restrict innovation. Facilio replaces this with proactive management, leveraging a scalable IoT and Machine learning led solution that reduces manual errors, enables predictive management and delivers key energy and sustainability outcomes. Our solution complements the existing infrastructure within buildings and makes sense of all the data it generates. Facilio’s comprehensive all-in-one solution offers three broad capabilities – Workforce Efficiency, Asset Efficiency, & Sustainability Efficiency – seamlessly woven into each other.
Today the FM and building automation industry is going through a significant digital transformation. As consumer needs change further, CRE’s need to shift from transactional and reactive models to offering enhanced facilities experiences, while also managing strong ROI and sustainability metrics. And Facilio can help them in making that transition.
From day one we have been committed to a vision of leveraging technology to unify the 3 core components of buildings – people, sustainability, and machines – in real-time, to help craft service-driven superior experiences where people can thrive. And it is this edge and advantage that we are bringing to Dubai’s and the region’s built environment.
How do you see the facilities management market moving forward?
The market is in the early stages of a tech driven transformation. A building with unified management capabilities addresses environmental concerns, while also positively impacting tenant business continuity – enhancing the value of the property significantly. Commercial real estate owners gain through enhanced performance of assets and by being able to address emerging regulatory restrictions easily and in a way that creates value rather than being a resource drain. At a more macro level these technologies align with the objectives of the UAE leadership – Smart City, Sustainability, as well as with enabling a holistic environment to enhance the “happiness” for users and tenants.
Facilio wants to be at the forefront of this transformation of Dubai and the larger Middle East region and its buildings. We want to assist our customers in transitioning to tech-enabled, modern facilities that are well maintained, efficient and sustainable.
About the author
Prabhu Ramachandran is the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc., headquartered in Atlanta (US). Facilio is a facilities optimization platform that harnesses IoT and AI to drive real-time operational efficiency across real-estate portfolios. Prabhu’s career spans over 18 years of product, business and customer experience focused on enterprise-scale software for IoT-based connected services, sustainable building solutions, and telecom network management.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia (US), with operations in Chennai, India, Facilio is a facilities optimization platform that harnesses IoT and AI to drive real-time operational efficiency across real-estate portfolios. It offers an all-in-one software suite to help facilities centrally manage maintenance, operations, sustainability, and tenant experience, in one place. Funded by Accel.com and founded by enterprise SaaS and IoT veterans, Facilio was established in May 2017, and started its operations in 2018. For more information please visit: https://facilio.com/