January 2010


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Bruce K. ForbesEMAIL INTERVIEW  Bruce K. Forbes & Ken Sinclair

Mr. Bruce Kenneth Forbes is the Founder, President, CEO, and Chairman of ARCHIBUS, Inc. Forbes is considered to be the world’s leading authority on infrastructure and facilities management, having created the world’s first CAFM, CIFM, IWMS, and TIFM solutions. As reported to the Gartner Group, annual expenditures for ARCHIBUS-related products and services exceed $1.7 Billion (USD). Mr. Forbes has a B.Arch. & B.S. in Computer Sciences (Syracuse); MS in Computer Graphics (Cornell); M. Arch. (Harvard); an Executive MBA (MIT), and was Director of the Design Automation Project at Harvard. Last year, Mr. Forbes, an IFMA fellow, delivered presentations to more than 40,000 facility management professionals.

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Sinclair: For anyone not familiar with ARCHIBUS and how it fits into the building automation landscape, can you give us a little background?

Forbes: ARCHIBUS, Inc. has a successful 25-year+ history of technological innovation, and is credited with developing and deploying the world’s first integrated automation tools for real estate, infrastructure and facilities management. As the technology has evolved to higher levels of sophistication and integration, our solutions focus has gone from being called Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) to Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) software. We’re proud to say that ARCHIBUS is the #1 IWMS offering worldwide. In 2008, ARCHIBUS-related product and services activities exceeded $1.7 Billion (USD). Used by over 4 million users to manage over 5 million properties, ARCHIBUS has an extensive support organization which includes over 3,000 professionals, is available in over 130 countries and in over 2 dozen languages.

We have a reputation for completing projects on time and within budget, and have over a 96% customer retention rate. Recent estimates indicate that ARCHIBUS commands over 92% market share of the IWMS market worldwide. Each year, ARCHIBUS users save their organizations over $100 billion (USD) and millions of hours of labor.

For the last three consecutive editions of its publication, ARCHIBUS has been positioned in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Integrated Workplace Management Systems” report. And our TEAMS environmental software suite was recently named a Best 100 Product by Buildings magazine.

Sinclair: In an age of increasing building automation, what surprises you most about the state of real estate and facilities management?

Forbes: The most striking fact is how so many companies are deficient in workflow simplification/automation and self-service processes. A surprising number of large, and presumably technologically adept, companies are still using Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and sticky notes to keep track of real estate and facilities management. We’ve seen estimates that as many as 80% of companies use Excel for such purposes. Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas producers in the U.S., was a case in point until recently, but is now saving millions of dollars on real estate, fleet management, and other costs through IWMS automation.

Sinclair: Still, there are all those organizations that seem to be getting by just fine using Excel spreadsheets for facilities management, not to mention financial, purposes – what’s the problem?

Forbes: The problem is that Microsoft Excel, which we sometimes say─half in jest─is our biggest competitor, can’t automate facilities management processes or give you a centralized, accurate, real-time picture of an organization to effectively manage physical assets. Research by Gartner, for example, says that many companies underuse office space by 50% or more and that many costs can be reduced by 5% to 20% per year through the implementation of IWMS solutions. You can’t get real control over costs like that without the automation, visualization, and analytic tools that IWMS provides. It’s a major contrast to what Excel spreadsheets can─or rather, can’t─do.

Sinclair: Who is a typical ARCHIBUS user?

Forbes: ARCHIBUS has been implemented by organizations of all sizes and in all sectors of the economy, both public and private, domestic and international. Our clients include the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, General Motors, Kaiser Permanente, City University of New York, Procter & Gamble,  Great American Insurance Company, Google, Philip Morris International, Canada’s Capital Health Authority, the world’s oldest but technologically sophisticated bank – Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and over 16,000 others. Those users have large deployments. But we also have a product scaled for single-seat licensing.

Whatever the type or size of an organization, they are all interested in reducing their Total Cost of Occupancy, improving the quality of the work environment and their operating efficiency, and in realizing a rapid return on their IWMS investment. We succeed on all of those counts judging by our retention rate and robust growth, even in an economy facing serious headwinds.

Sinclair: From an IWMS technology standpoint, what are current and prospective users most interested in these days?

Forbes: Integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems is an important goal for many organizations. Web-based applications are also in great demand. They make information access easier and less expensive. They also support the goal of greater automation by supporting more self-service features for maintenance requests, room reservations, moves, and for better coordination of capital budgeting, project management and other higher-level processes.

We are also responding to tremendous interest in mobile solutions for maintenance and asset management applications. The integration of IWMS with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology is another practice area that is growing rapidly, a trend that allows us to take advantage of our development partnership with ESRI, the top GIS developer in the world.

The C-suite is also increasingly attracted to the power of dashboard technology, which allows users to access graphical views of Key Performance Indicators and other operational information. This streamlines analysis, and, ultimately, aids decision-making. We’re currently involved in an important dashboard implementation project with Al Shaya, a major Middle Eastern retailer that manages 2.5 million square feet of space in malls and free-standing stores throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Because it represents many well-known brands─including Starbucks, H+M, The Body Shop, Pearle Vision Centers, Payless, Foot Locker, the Boots pharmacy chain, Office Depot and many others─ optimizing the physical appearance and streamlining operation of its properties is an important part of supporting brand image and profitability through superior retail facility management using best practices.

Sinclair: How far along are organizations in integrating their IWMS systems with Building Automation Systems (BAS)?

Forbes: It’s not nearly what it should be in order for organizations to achieve optimal operating efficiency, but we’re seeing more and more of it. Some of the most innovative examples, in fact, are coming from the public sector.

A State of Missouri government energy management initiative has linked BAS HVAC alarms to our Building Operations Management software. The integrated systems identify the location of a problem on building drawings and automate the issuance of work orders when energy management systems detect performance failures of heat traps and other system components.

Missouri has projected annual energy savings of $12 million from their overall integration effort and other measures. Those other measures, such as space consolidation that reduces HVAC expenditures (as well as leasing costs), has reduced annual emissions of carbon dioxide by at least 198 million pounds, dropped nitrogen oxide output by nearly 300,000 pounds, and lowered its sulfur oxide volume by over 500,000 pounds. It is calculated that the emissions reductions are the equivalent of removing 16,000 automobiles from Missouri’s roads.

The University of North Carolina – Charlotte (UNCC), the fastest growing campus of that state’s university system, is now in the process of integrating their IWMS and BAS systems, too. UNCC expects to gain a similar range of energy and other efficiencies as well, a response, in part, to a state mandate to reduce university energy consumption 30% by 2015.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sinclair: “Green” building and sustainability initiatives are often viewed as desirable but not always cost-effective. What’s your take on that?

Forbes: I think you have to look at long-term ROI versus initial costs to gauge the real value of such initiatives, which we think are important to society and economically justifiable over time. We’ve always felt that sustainability initiatives are a critical aspect of IWMS. Our involvement with energy and sustainability issues goes back a long way−to 1976, when we conducted the 1st Survey of Computer Applications in Architecture for the AIA and subsequently, in 1977, the AIA’s first Energy Handbook was published. In 1999, ARCHIBUS developed the world’s 1st comprehensive environmental and sustainability offering, and in 2002, presented the ARCHIBUS solution to the delegates at the IFMA /RICS World Summit in Johannesburg.

In 2004, ARCHIBUS Solution Centers – Environmental + Sustainability Services introduced the latest version of its Total Enterprise Asset Management System (TEAMS) to the worldwide ARCHIBUS users’ community. Today, TEAMS is the most comprehensive software suite of its kind, with Green Building, MSDS Management, Environmental Monitoring, Clean Building (lead paint/asbestos/etc. tracking, abatement/renovation project management), Environmental Health & Safety, Compliance & Financial Management, and Waste Management applications.

There is no question about the complementary nature of sustainability and IWMS and we take every possible opportunity to make that point. Within the last 12 months, for example, we have made sustainability presentations available to many real estate and facility management professionals. We delivered papers along with Rob Watson (a founding father of LEEDS Certification) in Shanghai, and in Saudi Arabia on behalf of His Royal Highness at the 2009 Intelligent Cities Conference in Makkah (Mecca).

Sinclair: How do you see IWMS in the year 2015?

Forbes: By 2015, the technology will become even more collaborative, intelligent, ubiquitous, and indispensable. By then, we also predict that it will finally receive the C-level awareness it deserves.


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