FacilitiesNet|BOM survey shows downsides to mobile technology are addressable, upsides center on speed and delighted occupants.

The mobile devices are coming, and no one needs a messenger on horseback to realize it. 1.9 billion smartphones will be shipped in 2019. That’s one new smartphone for every four people on the planet that year. Fortunately, the downsides to mobile building operations are addressable while the upsides make the effort and thought today very well worth it. And the payback clocks in well before anyone starts to worry whether or not they, or their SOPs, are obsolete.


The proliferation of mobile technology is already changing how people manage their buildings: 76% of building operators–who responded to a recent FacilitiesNet|BOM survey–use mobile technology for email and text project notifications.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides to consider.

Often, an early hurdle is finding the CAPEX budget for the devices. One Gridium building has found that tablets are cheaper than smartphones, given that the tablets can run on the building’s WiFi network and so no data plans are needed. Larry Morgan, Senior Facilities Manager for SAP, advises measuring before and after states of nature: if the current hot/cold call response time is two hours, what will it be after investing in tablets?

Another concern can be a flood of useful but hard to find information. “How do you find the needle in the haystack on this little device?” asks Peter Strazdas, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management at Western Michigan University. The key is using a tool that’s been thoughtfully designed.

Layering devices on top of your team can feel like big brother. The key here is to prove that the devices will make their jobs easier. Peter Strazdas says “If you shift quickly to a process that is too foreign, you might as well put that device on a shelf.” And the unknown can lead to fear: “If you don’t figure this out, you’re going to work your way out of a job,” says Strazdas. With thoughtful implementations, teams do come to see the mobile device as just another torque wrench in the tool box.

Put another way, the benefits outweigh the costs.

A major advantage to mobile technology is higher occupant satisfaction. In the FacilitiesNet|BOM survey, 61% of respondents reported that mobile devices improve occupant satisfaction. Think about responding faster to leaky sinks, noisy VAVs, or walk into a room and adjust temperatures alongside the occupant after receiving a ping on your device when you’re already on that floor.

Speed and accuracy are greatly improved. Operators can quickly know what they’re dealing with, once equipped with the high fidelity of information provided by a mobile device. Think of the differences between a burst radio dispatch and a work order emailed to a smartphone with a picture and the occupant’s chief complaint. 73% of respondents in the FacilitiesNet|BOM survey reported that mobile technology reduced work-order response time, and 62% said it reduced work order redundancy with improved workflows.

Jeffrey Tetrault, Director of Facilities and Construction at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., puts it simply “Technology is changing…you need to adapt with change and stay current.”

Gridium’s software technology can help, and please let us know if you have any questions.



About Millen Paschich

Millen began his career at Cambridge Associates, trained in finance at SMU, and has an MBA from UCLA. Talk to him about bicycling, business, and green chile burritos.

0 replies on “Mobility key to 21st century building operations”

You may also be interested in...

Are You on the Wrong Utility Rate? (Hint: Probably.)

Attention building owners & operators in California: do you know what energy rate each of your buildings is on? And, more importantly, are you sure those rates are the most-cost effective for each building, given their unique operations?