Analytics is So Last Year... and Other Things Learned at PRSM 2017

by Juliette Dickens   May 01, 2017

Technology

Retail facilities management can be a 24x7 endeavor.  But even the FM sector can get an occasional brief respite...taking a break recently in the “Big D.”  What for?  Dallas was the site of this year’s PRSM 2017 National Conference, the must-attend event of the year for retail FM  professionals.  

As the hub at the intersection of retailing, facilities management and enterprise technology, there’re lots of ideas, practices and deep thoughts percolating in most conversations.  Here are five of the more interesting ones that rose to the surface this year at PRSM, and some brief insight from some of our own team that attended.

1 - Retailers Want Access to More Data!

ServiceChannel customers, retailers and providers alike, unanimously agree that data drives their respective businesses.  More and more, being a data-centric organization is the starting point.  You simply can’t run an effective and efficient operation today without a complete handle on all elements of a facilities program, in a quantitative, up-to-date and accessible format.

One point that came up many times was how data was migrating from the province of the data analyst or just those somewhere in the company with the keys to the data kingdom.  Data’s now out of the shadows and has become useful and actionable, so much that everyone involved in the facilities ecosystem relies on it daily, and simply can’t execute their roles without it.

In fact, we saw a lot of...

2 - Retailer - Service Provider Data-based Bonding

Historically, retail FMs were not always in a position to fully understand the service performance for which they were paying.  They’d haphazardly connect with their providers when problems occurred or due to other random factors.  Communication between parties could become contentious due to misunderstandings or focus on differing topics.

Across our client base, we’ve certainly seen a new approach in communication.  But this year, we actually saw this change playing out on the conference floor.

We saw retailers come to the show not with empty bags to fill with tchotchkes but armed with quantitative performance scorecards for all their service providers and contractors, and meeting up with them on the floor to review the data.  Retail FMs have realized that evaluating performance on anecdotal stories (“think you showed up on time, mostly…”) is inefficient and simply not accurate.

Paul Lehman, Senior Manager, Solutions

“Our customers appreciate the enhancements we have made to Service Automation, especially around making data useful in their jobs. It’s a much more user-friendly experience.”

 

Vendor/contractor scorecarding has become a key part of any FM’s toolset.  There’s a realization that to have any kind of rational discussion about whom to work with, whom you should be directing business to - or away from, and how much you should be paying, you need to have objective data.  And contractors are coming to the same conclusion.  They want credit for the good jobs they do and want to be able to prove it in both existing relationships and new business opportunities with hard data.

3 - Analytics is So Last Year...Machine Learning’s the New “It’ Topic

Well...not completely ‘’last year!’  Analytics is obviously still crucial to any data-driven organization.  For many retailers, integrating analytics into their day-to-day operations is a process, and for some, a change in mindset and approach.  When you have metrics and KPIs readily available, you begin to see your business from a different perspective.

Gaining visibility or transparency as we like to say, across all your stores and your facilities program provides a much deeper understanding of what’s occurring.  And that leads to time reduction, cost savings, and greater efficiencies.  While not every retail brand has gotten on board the analytics/business intelligence train, most certainly have, and have seen the resulting benefits from such functionality.

But for those comfortable with working in a data-centric environment, the current question is “What’s next?”  Many attendees were looking for the ‘next big thing.’  Basically to paraphrase a number of facilities professionals:

“I have all this data that tells me how I’ve done, how my service providers have performed.  That’s essential; can’t live without it.  But can I use that data to look forward and have it help me rather than simply looking at the past?

Glad you asked!  One of the hottest topics was the how the burgeoning fields of AI and machine learning are impacting the FM world.  Everyone was excited to learn how these new technologies can leverage their own existing data and be used to really impact their businesses from a future looking perspective.

If you stopped by our booth, you had a chance to experience our latest product, Decision Engine.  Decision Engine brings machine learning techniques to facilities management for the first time. This innovative approach brings data-based decision making to routine FM decisions, making recommendations specific for you.  And Decision Engine even evolves to make even better recommendations, getting smarter over time!

Danny Shea, Regional Sales Manager

“AI and IoT (the ‘Internet of Things’) will transform the business our customers, retailers and providers, exist in.”

Sid Shetty, VP, Marketplace Strategy and Experience, ServiceChannel

4 - Who Isn’t Connected with ServiceChannel?

If you happened to walk the show floor, you noticed a vast majority of exhibitor booths with a ServiceChannel placard (or two) displayed.

Contractors and Suppliers who were either “Connected Partners” and/or “Integrated Partners” proudly displayed their experience and qualification badges. The badges convey to retailers that these service providers are trained on the ServiceChannel platform and are trusted partners.

Prospective clients were surprised at the number of contractors and service providers at PRSM that featured the ServiceChannel placard. It brought them to our booth with more assurance that most anyone they partner with for repair & maintenance services would be ‘ServiceChannel fluent.’

Jason Leonard, Senior Sales Executive at ServiceChannel

“I was impressed by the interest in learning about new products or offerings coming from Service Providers. In a business sector that doesn't carry much of the glitz and glam, it was reassuring to see everyone had such a strong understanding of the endless capabilities in managing their business.”

   

Exhibitors with ServiceChannel placards (photo courtesy of PRSM)

5 - PRSM’s Not All Work and No Play

We hosted our always popular, annual PRSM cocktail party for retailers and service providers at the Riverwalk Terrace in the Gaylord Texan. This was a fun and productive event for all attendees, with everyone actively engaged and networking with their peers and the ServiceChannel team.


ServiceChannel Cocktail Party at Gaylord Texan

PRSM was a wonderful success!  We’re excited to see how these trends develop over the year, learn what’s important and helpful to you, and help shape the future of the facilities marketplace together.  

And if you have your calendar handy, see you next year in Nashville, Tennessee for PRSM 2018!

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