In recent years there has been a considerable push towards cloud-based technology for everything from document storage to SaaS-based facilities management (IWMS), work management (CMMS), or asset management (EAM) solutions. However, every organization has a long history of carefully considered decisions that have resulted in their own set of business processes, workflows, data needs, and technologies. After several years of trying to realize the marketed benefits of SaaS, “the pendulum is now swinging back” as organizations realize that in the long run it can be easier, faster, and more cost effective to change software to work the way they need rather than change their business processes, workflows, data, and technology to work with one-size-fits-all SaaS-based solutions. Present-day organizations need a mature enterprise-level mobile platform that has been purposefully engineered to address the needs of facilities management, facilities maintenance, asset management, service providers, IoT, and vendors. They are demanding mobile technology that can be plugged into any of their existing enterprise backends to provide a single mobile experience for their users. Rather than using multiple mobile apps, that only partly address their needs and often require workarounds, organizations want to simplify their users’ (employee) experience and lower IT costs with a single mobile platform that can address all needs for all user constituencies, regardless of where on Earth they work and what language they work in. Addressing these requirements calls for a unified mobile solution in the market for IoT, inspections, facility condition assessment, maintenance management, asset management, capital projects, inventory management, and more. Enter FieldFLEX—a world-class mobile platform and app suite—that’s spearheading change in the facility management landscape.
From Humble Beginnings to Skyrocketing Growth
“FieldFLEX is a products company with an engineering mindset. When we hear problems, we think like engineers and get to work on solutions,” explains Atkinson. Since its inception in 2003, the company has been committed to being a world-leading enterprise mobile software entity dedicated to solving all the mobility needs of facilities and corporate real estate professionals, by providing solutions for IWMS, CMMS, and EAM. It is this singular focus that has allowed FieldFLEX to organically grow by more than 2000 percent over the past five years, without any outside financing or investment. Whether it is employee self-service, asset tracking and logistics, graphical wayfinding, or field operations, such as work order management, inspections, surveys, and facility assessments, FieldFLEX offers a full suite of mobile enterprise productivity applications. Used at more than a dozen global Fortune 100 companies, the FieldFLEX mobile platform is robust, mature, and enterprise-class while remaining flexible enough to support the most complex and sophisticated workflows.
FieldFLEX has a complete suite of mobile apps to address any needs related to work, assets, meters, parts, vendors, approvals, time tracking, inspections, condition assessment, IoT, alarms, space, occupancy, reservations, kiosks, security, and wayfinding. Furthermore, since FieldFLEX is a role-based app, the company can address the specific needs of different user constituencies.
Our data-driven and user-defined inspection application provides configurable checklists and questionnaires to automate custom, regulatory, or routine inspections related to any enterprise project
The platform has been engineered over the years to easily support any customer-specific deployment while having a single version of app store software and mobile app server software to maintain.
Revolutionizing the Facility Management Space
Organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they manage their physical assets and are tracking more and more data points. To realize the value of this rich data, their field workers need access. The problem: field workers often work where there is no connectivity. 5G, while increasing bandwidth for the public, will only make this problem worse for field workers as the higher frequency of 5G requires significantly higher cell tower density and predictably more dead zones. “We mitigate this problem by offering software that allows field workers to always have the data they need, regardless of their connected state. Today, our target benchmark is to load 100,000 records in less than 10 seconds to the mobile device,” asserts Atkinson. FieldFLEX places complete and relevant enterprise data on the field workers’ devices, allowing them to accomplish their jobs efficiently. “With full offline mode mobile applications, FieldFLEX enables users to be out of network coverage for long periods without losing data or app functionality.”
Modern organizations are investing a lot in IoT technology to make their buildings smarter. These organizations opt to leverage maturing IoT platforms such as those available from Azure, IBM, and Amazon to aggregate and make use of data gathered from the different IoT intelligent devices and systems in their buildings. Aligning to this trend, FieldFLEX provides fully integrated, highly-scalable, IoT-enabled mobile solutions that not only offer operational efficiencies by reducing costs and risks but build a culture of engagement by connecting mobile employees with their workplace to provide real-time interaction and performance feedback. FieldFLEX has released a new offering, Edge AI2, where AI2 is derived from the combination of artificial intelligence and actual intelligence, i.e. human feedback, that leverages both enterprise asset data and aggregated IoT data to present contextually meaningful alerts and information in an location-specific, interactive way.
The overarching goal for real estate or facilities professionals is to provide the highest quality facilities and related service for the lowest cost. To this end, they are always looking for ways to cut costs, improve staff productivity, and increase ROI while providing higher service quality through better access to overall processes and improved oversight of service providers. With FieldFLEX’s new Vendor offering, organizations can quickly and easily push work to any individual inside or outside the organization. Everyone touching the workflow can now provide real-time updates. Furthermore, they can track when a user arrives and departs a work location to verify invoiced hours. The company can even provide its customers with the ability to invite service providers to bid in real-time with the fastest and cheapest bid being awarded the work.
With its mobile field services apps, the company not only facilitates mobile inspections and condition assessment but also improves space and asset data quality.
Delivering the Experience
FieldFLEX’s professional delivery team deploys the complete suite of mobile applications in one-third of the time required by their competitors. These applications efficiently cater to the field workers, the Architectural/Engineering/Construction (AEC) professionals, and other facility management workforce. FieldFLEX’s apps help organizations to not only analyze and manage the entire corporate real estate portfolio but also to engage their mobile workforce efficiently. The maintenance management application aids field workers in managing all types of maintenance tasks with features including documents, assets, parts, materials, timekeeping, repair history, meter readings, route management, and interactive drawings. To complement this, their approvals application automatically routes approvals to the appropriate individual or team. All information necessary to approve, reject, return, or escalate is available.
“Our data-driven and user-defined inspection application provides configurable checklists and questionnaires to automate custom, regulatory, or routine inspections related to any enterprise project,” states Atkinson. Furthermore, FieldFLEX’s facility condition assessment application aids users to collect, observe, and estimate facility and asset condition data with intuitive screens, maps, and drawings.
Members of the FieldFLEX technical team are on a regular rotation routinely spending time working on customer deployments, sales initiatives, and product development which allows the entire team to stay grounded and keep the right perspective. The company’s ability to deploy solutions quickly and enable mobile workers make it fully enterprise ready, serving as the go-to solution provider for various private and public sector organizations, including education, government, energy, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.
"With fully offline-capable mobile applications, FieldFLEX enables users to be out of network coverage for long periods without losing data or app functionality. We can fully support and scale to meet large data requirements"
Recognizing their clients’ evolving needs, FieldFLEX aims to expand its support for other mainstream backends, such as Infor, ServiceNow, ServiceChannel, SAP, and Oracle. Many of their customers rely heavily on vendors and want to more easily and quickly dispatch and stay updated on work and project tasks. FieldFLEX is working on deploying multiple vendor roles for its customers and will continue to focus on providing support for vendors and service providers. Also, fulfilling the public demand for using the streamlined FieldFLEX interface on the desktop, the company will be addressing an increasing number of desktop usage scenarios for Mac and Windows. They have established a new tech hub in Singapore and will be focusing on refining and streamlining their internal processes around support, testing, quality assurance, and product development to increase velocity.
“In April at the IBM IoT Academy in Orlando, we launched and demonstrated our new Edge AI2 offering that provides integration with IoT hub services to send contextually meaningful and actionable information to users in the field, right where IoT devices require attention. We’ve started to offer pure SaaS-based solutions, and this will be a major focus for us in the future as we make our internal WYSIWYG app editor available for use by customers,” concludes Atkinson.