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Big Data and Small Operational Costs How Big Data Can Save Businesses Money

9 May 2016

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We stand at the dawn of the ‘big data’ era. Thanks to a rise in new technologies, humans are generating more information than ever before. According to IBM, we create an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and 90% of all data that currently exists in the world is less than two years old.

However, while humans are becoming ever more adept at producing data, the question of how best to utilise it remains an open one. Undoubtedly, big data opens doors to unprecedented opportunities in terms of obtaining in-depth insights. But, for many businesses, the best practices for collecting and analysing this data have yet to be determined.

Big Data: A Cost-Saving Opportunity for Facilities Managers

Many businesses and facilities managers consider big data to be an essential tool in their efforts to reduce operational costs and improve the efficiency and productivity of facilities management. Thanks to recent technological developments, data is already being generated relating to all facets of facilities’ operational management, from their design and construction right through to auditing and maintenance.

Here, we highlight just some of the most common ways businesses are utilising big data to cut costs and boost profitability in their facilities.

Improving Energy Efficiency 

Reducing our reliance on non-renewable fuels and cutting carbon emissions is essential from a financial, as well as an environmental, perspective – if businesses can use energy more efficiently, the cost savings will be significant.

Big data can be employed in a number of ways to achieve this goal. For example, big data has the capacity to enable data-driven decision making in the following operational areas:

  • Real-time management of a facility’s energy performance using data from smart sensors 
  • Rapid identification of energy inefficiencies and energy-saving opportunities 
  • Virtual energy audits
  • Easy comparison of energy consumption patterns, efficiencies and waste streams across multiple facilities 
  • Early detection and prevention of equipment faults, energy leaks or power outages 

A growing number of facilities energy managers are turning to big data to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Boosting Productivity

In addition to reducing wasteful energy use, big data has the power to reduce wasteful practices in facilities more generally. Big data analysis is increasingly being used to identify and correct process flaws and, in so doing, reduce waste and variability. 

For example, a facilities manager could use big data to identify the amount of employee time being wasted moving between different parts of a workspace, and then use these insights to plan more efficient workspace layouts. By applying big data in such a way, facilities managers can increase individual and organisational productivity – changes that will bring about significant cost savings.

Enhancing Customer, Client & Employee Experience

The economic opportunity that big data represents in terms of creating comfortable, hospitable facilities cannot be overstated. Through the utilisation of advanced analytics – and particularly the deployment of smart sensors and automated systems – businesses and operations managers can optimise facilities to create as pleasant an environment as possible. 

For example, an operations manager might use big data to create an optimised cleaning schedule that accounts for real-time levels of high demand, or to identify areas of the facility that are vulnerable to overcrowding during peak hours. Changes such as this are likely to improve customer and client satisfaction, while also bolstering employee health – all of which equate to long-term economic benefits.

Refining Risk Management and Health & Safety

Finally, big data holds significant opportunities in terms of improving risk management and health & safety within facilities. Traditional approaches to the management of health & safety in facilities services can be time-consuming and complicated to compile. Delivering facilities management in complex environments requires a system of collating all health & safety data.  

This is where big data steps in. Applications such as Logincident can capture data and provide a management information dashboard that helps facilities managers to analyse data and, in so doing, better drive out or manage risk. Increased reporting of near misses improves risk prevention and reduces injury, as well as cost.  

Big Data: The Challenges Ahead

As you can see, big data holds significant economic opportunities for businesses in terms of reducing operational costs in facilities. To quote the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina: "The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight”.

However, this translation process is not always a simple one. Despite the fact that the majority of businesses are already collecting vast amounts of data, many do not have the knowledge or skill-sets necessary to take full advantage of it. Another common problem is that, in some cases, businesses have not yet collected enough long-term data to enable meaningful advanced analysis. In both such instances, it is necessary for the business to invest in data collection and analysis, if they are to take advantage of the financial benefits that big data can bring.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can reduce operational costs in your businesses’ facilities, OCS can help. Visit our facilities management page to find out more, or call us on 0844 846 7608 today.