Special Issue: Harnessing The Power Of Data

Data-driven facilities are embracing AI and other technologies to set up for future success.

AkitaBoxThe Key To Making Better Decisions With Data

Derek Blackmore, President of AkitaBox, shares how the company’s innovative software allows facilities to easily collect and access critical data.

 

Tell us about how AkitaBox was founded in 2015. What inspired your founders to create software that presents building data in an easy-to-use format?

Our founders saw a huge disconnect. There’s so much data that goes into and is created while designing beautiful, expensive facilities. But during the project turnover process, owners and operators weren’t receiving much value from that rich, valuable data from the construction process. It was a massive waste of data that’s already been created. On day one of operations, building owners and operators actually have very little data. How can you maintain a building over its lifecycle to optimize and achieve its fullest potential with data that’s in static PDFs and spreadsheets?

The construction turnover process also doesn’t provide building operators the data in a software tool like AkitaBox so that they can track what happens today and in the future to help them make better decisions and ensure their capital is going to the most important aspects of the building. So, the pursuit was to fill that void and enable an optimized facility lifecycle.

What sets AkitaBox apart from other software developers in the building management space?

Our software serves not just the owner who needs facilities data, but also the architect, engineer, or construction company who creates that data and needs to transfer it during the handover process and throughout the building’s lifecycle as they conduct assessments, audits, and inspections of existing facilities. This helps the owner make better capital decisions on how to renovate or retrofit a building, optimize its operation today, and improve energy consumption by addressing lighting or other assets that might be energy hogs.

The bottom line: we help ensure data is created and made available to all stakeholders throughout the facility lifecycle, not just during the construction handover to maintenance and operations. That really is, I believe, what sets us apart—and it’s been an interesting spot to sit in.

We’re constantly enhancing our software to make it easier and nearly automated to collect, organize, manage, and analyze data, no matter what type it is—work order data, reactive vs. proactive work, an energy audit, condition assessment, or capital needs assessment. One example of this is our AI-powered Capture app that automatically enters information from a picture of manufacturer labels into the correct data fields.

Having that data not only informs a better plan, it also informs how we maintain the building as a whole and it’s what we pride ourselves on at AkitaBox.

AkitaBox, facilities management software
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How does AkitaBox ensure success for customers during the onboarding process and beyond? What types of training and support do you offer?

From the first meeting with someone (whether a facilities leader or AEC firm) who’s looking for a new solution, we ask questions. What problems are they solving? How are they doing something today? Are they not doing it? Or is it just not working the way they’re trying to do it?

What brings them to spend their valuable time looking for a new solution typically is the tipping point of our understanding. We then take that understanding, transferring it through the onboarding process to ensure that AkitaBox is configured and set up for them in a way that addresses their problems and enables them to optimize the entire lifecycle of their facilities and assets.

We provide initial and long-term training and support based on the unique needs of each client. When a client doesn’t know how to do something in the software, or they need to do something they haven’t done in the software before, AkitaBox wants to be there to quickly help them address that. Because if it’s important to them, it’s important to us. And the sooner they understand how to do it, the sooner they can do it, and the sooner they go about their job. AkitaBox software enables them to spend more of their time working on their facilities.

What does the short-term and long-term future hold for AkitaBox?

In the short term, we will continue empowering and enabling professionals who are responsible for facilities—service providers, AEC firms, owners, and operators—to better deploy their staff and capital towards the facility to align it with the strategic mission of the organization.

We will help them to be as efficient as possible with their time and budgets as it pertains to maintaining, operating, and enhancing the facility. With AkitaBox Insights, our integrated business intelligence tool, we will help them make decisions based on data from their facilities—not on feelings, not on clipboards, notepads, or “this is what we did last time.”

Long-term, we will keep finding ways to efficiently collect, manage, analyze, and make decisions based on real data from a building, based on the real activities that are (or are not) happening in that facility. We’ll enable that through things like AI to automate tasks that we don’t have the labor to do. And we’ll equip organizations to better leverage the skills, experience, and expertise of existing facilities professionals. How? By automating tasks, by bringing data to their fingertips when they need it, where they need it, how they need it, and even suggesting how they might use it, but still leveraging their expertise and allowing them to make that final decision.

Next: The Responsibility Journey: Start Embracing AI in Your Facilities Management


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