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Facilities firm ISS picks IBM Watson IoT to manage client sites

Danish outsourcing and services firm signs new deal with IBM to use Watson’s internet of things capabilities to better manage its clients’ properties

Danish facilities management and office services provider ISS is to embark on a major transformation project across its global customer base by implementing IBM Watson IoT (internet of things) to manage 25,000 client buildings.

ISS specialises in building maintenance, janitorial services, office supplies, building security, facilities management, catering services, and so on, and is one of the world’s largest private employers, serving a client list that includes Nordea, Novartis and Rolls-Royce.

According to ISS chief operating officer Martin Gaam, the building services sector has spent a number of years moving away from input-based contracts – for example, providing x meals per day in a factory canteen – towards outcome-based contracts. The advent of the IoT, he said, helped advance that shift in his business model.

“Sensor technology makes us better at making services available to clients and their end-users on demand,” said Gaam. “It means we deploy our services where they are needed and our people are not wasted doing things that are not visible or adding value.”

Working with IBM, ISS will use Watson IoT to integrate and analyse data from millions of sensors placed around the buildings it manages. This data will be uploaded onto the Watson IoT cloud platform, where cognitive computing technology will be used to help ISS better understand how people use buildings and optimise its services in response.

ISS has already been trialling the technology at its Copenhagen headquarters, and Gaam said it had already been able to realise a number of efficiencies by determining where and when support staff were needed, and helping to manage the day-to-day office lives of the employees who depend on them.

For example, if people jump into an empty meeting room without having previously booked it, sensors in the room can detect that they are there, adjust their calendars and retroactively book the meeting room to ensure they are not disturbed. The system can also message service staff to bring snacks and coffee if wanted, and cleaners to come in afterwards.

Elsewhere, sensors placed on plate dispensers in the ISS canteen can tell kitchen staff how many people are likely to still turn up to eat during a lunch service, enabling them to prepare the right amount of food and avoid waste.

Read more about Watson IoT

Nils van der Zijl, IBM Watson IoT Europe business unit executive, said the relationship covered not only the IoT, but would encompass a major services wrap from IBM, and use of its facilities management software platform Tririga.

“We have a solid plan and partnership,” said van der Zijl. “In the coming six months, we will be working on a defined blueprint to create a model of how to best deploy this across ISS’s clients.

“The rollout is starting in January 2017 and, over 24 months, we will deploy these solutions across 2,000 clients. IBM’s services organisation will be a critical part of the deployment, working with ISS’s local teams from across the globe.”

ISS CEO Jeff Gravenhorst added: “With a dashboard overview of key building metrics displayed on mobile devices, facility managers will benefit from an integrated, real-time view of the services and supplies within their buildings, enabling them to adopt a more proactive, flexible and responsive approach to building management and customised service delivery.

“Putting real-time data into the hands of service staff will help to foster more attentive and service-minded employees, supporting our customers in achieving their priorities. Putting a ‘human touch’ in buildings helps to increase employee productivity, decrease absenteeism and makes a better impression on visitors.”

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