My role drives me to industry conferences all year long, but they are really grouped in two timeframes. Living in the northern hemisphere, I refer to them as the spring conference group (running between February and June) and the fall conference group (running between September and the US Thanksgiving holiday). Each group has about the same number of conferences, but the fall group packs them into about half the time frame. So while my preference might have been to provide recaps and updates along the way, it just was not happening this year. I’ll have to plan better next time around.
After the spring conference program (IFMA Fusion, Facilities Show London to name a few) and a hectic summer of internal activity, I turned my attention back outward in September as I prepared for IFMA World Workplace 2016. This is an event of over 5,000 people from all around the world. An item of particular note that I heard was that the premier world event put on by the defacto facilities management organization in the United States is named ‘Workplace.’ It is a sign of the mission of professional in this organization with dedicated careers to making the workplace an enabler of organizational productivity and well being. These professionals are finding strategic influence in their respective organizations and this was represented in the content of the World Workplace 2016 keynotes and track sessions.
Being a co-author of the new Work on the Move 2, launched at World Workplace 2016, by the IFMA Foundation, I found myself attending a few Foundation events, such as the inaugural IFMA Foundation 5k run/walk, and the scholarship awards. The work of the foundation, accrediting college and university programs, along with the global workforce initiative, is attracting people to dedicate their studies and careers to the FM profession. Trimble has joined forces with the foundation through sponsorship, our involvement with Work on the Move 2, and some coming soon announcements and activity to bring broad Trimble resources to bear in providing institutions with more resources from the Trimble ecosystem. With this kind of focus an attention, I can only imagine what lies ahead in the advancement of industry practices and technology.
The CoreNet Global Summit in Philadelphia is an incredibly different environment. Here the real estate professionals come to network and discuss the trends impacting the availability, development, and retrofit of real estate to suit the needs of the businesses they serve. I found it very interesting, the impact of people work styles and demand are having on real estate. We are not just accepting what is available, but demanding that the workplace is suited to not only the work of the organization or a particular department or team, but all the way to the individual worker and in support of the company brand and culture. One of the sessions I attended, ‘Deskbookers meets Uber,’ was particularly interesting in challenging the traditional use and consumption of real estate; considering the applicability of long term lease or buy versus short term and even on-demand / co-working space.
Our own Trimble Dimensions proved out to be an incredible technology event covering not only the entire facilities
lifecycle, but the technologies that support the entire built environment lifecycle along with transportation logistics, agriculture and more. Trimble’s entire history is all about blending the physical with the digital, starting with locating points from designs into the real world and surveying the real world to consume in design. In this age of continuously blurring the physical and digital worlds, Trimble is the company I want to be with for sure. The most clear example of this blur was the announcement of the availability of SketchUp Viewer for Hololens. Now we in Real Estate and Workplace can overlay our workplace designs and facilities data over our real world, to see how a workplace might appear when constructed and even walk through it at full scale. Trimble has many more plans in the works for holographic computing, mixed and augmented reality, so stay tuned for more exciting things to come.
CoreTech was another stop on my tour, yet I know of a few other events that happened in parallel or in the few off weeks I had to prepare for the next. CoreTech is a whirlwind technology event, packing a mind blowing amount of technology into just about 24 hours. This years venue was 28 Liberty in NYC, which some might argue as the real estate capital of the world. If you are watching this season of the TV show Quantico, it is the same building. The view was amazing and the content and discussion was fantastic. The format was well designed to keep interest, by packing each subject into 20 to 40 minute segments. I was especially glad to see the new CoRETech graphic discussing the application of Technology, Automation and Innovation to a real estate portfolio of corporate campuses, regional facilities and possibly retail outlets, resulting in the spheres of influence of Real Estate Information Management, Smart Connected Buildings, and Next Generation Space. I knew I was in the right place when hearing this message, recognizing it so close to the focus of Trimble’s Real Estate & Workplace Solutions division. I am very much looking forward to what the RealComm team has in store for 2017 through the webinar series and conference.
3,980 miles East of NYC in one of the best-known cities famous for its glitzy hotels, cars, beaches, and a certain film festival, our UK based Real Estate & Workplace Solutions team exhibited at MAPIC 2016. Held in Cannes every November, MAPIC is the premier event for the international retail real estate market. Innovation clearly took centre stage with a concerted focus on the trends that are sweeping across the retail real estate industry. From smart robots to digital signage to indoor mapping, these are exciting times. As you may have gathered, Trimble is passionate about innovation. For the first time at MAPIC, our Mixed Reality technology delivered a completely new experience for retail real estate designers, managers and maintenance professionals. Delegates experienced how HoloLens can be used to examine Trimble SketchUp designs, deal with maintenance tasks and help market stores and locations within a mall to potential tenants. We also heard from experts that despite some of the headlines of late, over 90 percent of retail sales still take place in physical stores, with a report that e-tailers are moving to find space in malls, shopping centres and urban locations. We also introduced Trimble’s very own ‘rugged’ tablets for helping carry out large centre inspections, etc. without the worry of device protection. Is there anything we can’t help the industry with?
Finally, on a more technical stop, I attended the Gartner Applications Strategies and Solutions Summit at Caesars palace in Las Vegas. As a technology developer and vendor, this is important to my team, but I have been taking particular interest in how Gartner is closely tracking the relationship of the IT community into the physical workplace. Following the Digital Workplace track, many sessions promoted the collaboration of IT with facilities and HR. We have been writing and promoting this concept for a little while now and glad to see it being picked up by others. We are surely experiencing a continued blurring of the physical and digital, while at a human level, we are seeking to serve the individual needs of each person and role in an organization. The coalition of these disciplines is sure to bring about fantastic results for workers, workplaces and organizational performance. You will want to make the Gartner research in digital workplace part of your reading list. Even if you are not tuned in all that much to the IT world, the research will at a minimum help you build some understanding of the perspective your IT colleagues might have.
It has been a great season, though a busy one, as I learned from so many thought leaders from around the industry, as well as have the opportunity to share through many of my own presentations. I am very much looking forward to what 2017 will bring as I digest all of this learning to our Trimble team to bring about new products and solution features to continue to advance technology and the problems we can solve in the industry.
Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year!