Change-changing technology

April 2, 2018

Chris Dobson, North East Times’ property writer, talks with Ed Bartlett, VP of Kykloud, an Accruent company and provider of facility and asset surveying and management software built here in the North East

I haven’t met a facilities manager or building surveyor for many years. At the time, it seemed a stressed environment, one with considerable responsibilities with little recourse to technology. Have things changed?

In recent years, the profession has been transformed by technology. So much so, ‘Proptech’ is one of the fastest growing technology sectors to emerge; this dedicated industry provides innovative technology solutions for property professionals around the globe. While the adoption of technology across the profession was slower than some industries, building surveyors and asset managers across the globe now rely heavily on technology.

We were one of the first to bring cloud-based asset management solutions to the profession, but fast-forward a few years and it’s now considered a mainstay for most property professionals.

What has been the force behind these significant changes?

Without a doubt, the need for accurate data in order to make informed, data-driven decisions. Before technology, it was difficult to extract up-to-date, real-time data. By the time surveys of large property portfolios were completed, the data would often be out of date. Technology like ours allows surveyors to extract data from built assets quickly and easily and turn this data into meaningful management information.

As a result, our software is being used all over the globe to help asset managers understand and manage their property portfolios more efficiently and ensure that capital planning decisions are based on accurate data.

For a profession that is so focused on accuracy and speed of reporting, our technology allows fully customisable and bespoke building surveys to be delivered directly to a team in the field and for all data to be uploaded securely and efficiently.

Your regional office is based in Nautilus House, North Shields. What is the global scale of your company?

We operate all over the globe – in more than 20 countries across four continents on more than 42,000 projects – but our core technical and support team is based here in the North East. In December 2017, Kykloud was acquired by Accruent, the world’s leading provider of physical resource management solutions. Accruent, a Texas-based global company, is committed to the ongoing development of our team here in the region.

The North East looks set to become a huge development centre for the company – tapping into some of the excellent technical skill sets that we have here in the region. We are looking to more than double the size of our technical team over the next 12 months.

Returning to technology, how has this changed the building surveying profession?

Our software is a game changer; it quite literally has transformed the way in which building surveyors operate. Not so long ago, surveyors arrived on site with a notepad, a pen and a digital camera. They would make notes on their pad, take accompanying photos, and then spend numerous hours back in the office creating reports. Our software allows them to go on site, capture data from a predetermined survey template on their iPad – to ensure consistency of data collection – and take photos which are saved alongside the relevant information automatically. Then, quite literally at the touch of a button, they can generate a report from the data and photos.

Our technology reduces a whole load of unnecessary administration and time and allows building surveyors to spend more time on site.

But the real clever part is using this asset management data for capital and lifecycle planning. Managers of large property portfolios must be able to forecast future spend. Until our software came to market, typically, they would rely on error-prone spreadsheets to manage multi-billion pound projects. Our software allows them to forecast accurately, and make data-driven decisions on future spend and evidence funding requirements.

Can you expand on this?

Certainly. Use of technology such as ours is no longer considered a nice thing to have, but is increasingly a key requirement in large tenders. Owners of large property portfolios recognise the huge benefits that technology brings. Typically, technology is included within the tender documentation as a key requirement for consideration. This approach helps to identify firms who are ahead of the curve in terms of utilising mobile surveying technology, but also provides a more cost-efficient surveying service for the assets under management. So, very often, consultants looking to bid for surveying work on schemes are required to show evidence of an established use of our technology to complete the surveying process.

And what of the future?

It’s exciting times. As an Accruent company, we are now part of a globally recognised business dedicated to the better management of built assets. There is huge synergy across our software products and we are confident that we will be able to improve our client offering as part of the wider group.

For the team based here, the opportunities are enormous. We have ambitious plans to further our growth as part of a multi-million pound global business.

Once again, the North East has demonstrated that it builds internationally recognised, enterprise-level technology solutions which can be successfully exported all over the globe.


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