Home Management CBRE’s AI-Based Facilities Management Solutions Reaches 1 Billion Square Feet Of Deployment

CBRE’s AI-Based Facilities Management Solutions Reaches 1 Billion Square Feet Of Deployment

As the nature of work has changed and where it is done becomes more distributed, it has necessitated that companies in the commercial real estate sectors evolve with the times. The companies who occupy commercial real estate have different needs based on less frequent use of the space and different uses for the space, as well. For nearly seven years, Sandeep Davé has been a tech and digital executive at CBRE, the nearly $31 billion revenue company, with more than three of those years as the Chief Digital and Technology Officer of the company. He defines the evolving needs with three “Es”: energy, efficiency, and experience. The ability to collect data has never been greater, but making sense of it can be difficult. The issue is one of diversity both of building types (no two are exactly alike) and building management systems (there is no one standard used).

Davé and his team have developed a home-grown platform called Smart Facilities Management (FM) Solutions. This is an artificial intelligence platform that studies the data and makes suggestions based on the conclusions it draws. “We realized that 39% of our work orders were delayed due to classification errors,” noted Davé. “The artificial intelligence [in Smart FM] helps correct these errors to ensure that we have a better data foundation. The platform also includes anomaly detection. For example, occupancy, sensor-based metric data, and dynamic cleaning [are tied together]. I don’t need to clean the floors every day because Mondays and Thursdays nobody is showing up. There are so many interventions like that in our Smart FM platform, and we have what we call remote monitoring, virtual assist.” Smart FM has been used to improve operational reliability and drive efficiency at more than 20,000 of CBRE’s Global Workplace Solutions client sites, totalling 1 billion square feet.

Smart FM was spearheaded by a team that joined CBRE when the company acquired E2C Technology in the third quarter of 2022. Now Davé and his team are layering in generative artificial intelligence capabilities within Smart FM. He refers to these new capabilities as the CBRE Self-service AI Playground. CBRE employees can upload documents to the AI Playground. As an example, an employee can have a 200-page investment report synthesized, and in a few moments, that employee will be spared the need to try to find a needle’s worth of an insight in a haystack of data. Other solutions include:

  • Virtual Maintenance, which combines remote monitoring and diagnostics, alarm triage and advanced analytics to drive next best actions.
  • Automated Maintenance, which delivers real-time asset performance information and automates compliance reporting and asset inspections.
  • Dynamic Services, which provides AI-driven data insights on space utilization, enabling an enhanced employee experience.

“Now we use the AI Playground to auto-generate content,” said Davé proudly. “The responses I’m getting is that what used to take two days is now taking two hours. This is game changing, and it’s taking off. We’re adding 100 to 250 users a week as we are building this technology.” He foresees many different uses of the Smart FM and the Self-service AI Playground, from drafting emails to better quality and faster responses to RFPs. The team continues to explore the possibilities.

Davé is also pleased with the progress made in making buildings more energy efficient. He noted a story he has heard about how in the early stages of COVID when office buildings were largely empty, the grids serving Manhattan were near peak capacity, as buildings were still being cooled during summer days as though they were full. Davé and his team have worked to combine the occupancy data to inform HVAC usage to ensure better efficiency across the CBRE’s buildings.

Davé closed the conversation with two important insights. First, he noted that he does not see AI as a near term threat to jobs, as it is more important than ever to have humans in the loop. “We are focused on the human element because the technology is still new and humans are needed for everything from review, intervention, bias recognition and the like,” he offered. “We have taken an approach to issue guidelines to that effect.”

Finally, he noted that it is important to chase strategic imperatives rather than shiny objects. “If we avoid chasing the shiny object, and if we link ideas back to what is the core strategy of the business, then we can deploy AI at scale, which is how we will gauge if we are successful,” he said. The results so far would suggest that CBRE has been more successful than most.

Peter High is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written three bestselling books, including his latest Getting to Nimble. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.