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“We need to tackle the issues which are really affecting the industry”

Blog by BIFM Commercial Director, Jacqueline Balian

“For goodness sake we don’t need another boring conference with the same old speakers always on the circuit.”

“We need to tackle the issues which are really affecting the industry at the operational end.”

“Absolutely no more all male programmes – the membership is 30% women!”

“We need a window on the world outside FM so we can see what’s coming down the line and how we will cope with it.”

“Never mind what’s happening elsewhere – we need to concentrate on how we deal with the fact that facilities management is commoditised, is seen as the one place where fat can always be cut, where value is invisible and where the race to the bottom on price is forcing good companies and good people to the wall!”

Just a couple of weeks in to my new job at BIFM, and a meeting of the steering committee for ThinkFM left me in no doubt about the high standards and conflicting demands of the FM industry. After a minute or two to catch our breaths, the team set out to try to meet the very exacting aspirations of the members.

As a result, we have produced Think Beyond FM – Adapt or Disappear.

The programme looks at the major disruptors in the industry to provide FMs with insights on how they can turn them to their organisation’s advantage.

Clearly, those who are able to change the approach of companies are going to be in strategic level roles, but we know that these things are of huge interest and importance to people working at all levels. Unfortunately, those in more operational roles sometimes face difficulty in persuading their HR departments that strategic conferences are appropriate for them.

To make sure that members at all levels can access the conference, we have included lots of practical papers too, with real take away learnings. The aim is that HR departments will appreciate the value of the more practical elements for their organisation, and so allow all staff at all levels to attend and gain access to the strategic thinking too.

The conference will feature a discussion with the industry’s leaders on outsourcing, the future of PFI, the margins in FM and how to cope with the race to the bottom.

We will be publishing the names of participants in advance and we will be taking your questions to them. We will be taking questions from the audience live at the conference via the ThinkFM App so you can put your questions in real time without even having to stand up!

Engage with the debate throughout the day via twitter, #thinkfm, and have your posts featured on the conference twitter wall.

I am enormously pleased that we will have Vicky Pryce, the noted economist and much feted public speaker to provide the keynote. She will be talking about the ‘dark art’ of forecasting and whether we should believe economic forecasts, including a look at Brexit and the re-balancing of the economy – financial services vs manufacturing, north vs south.

There will also be sessions on AI and automation and one on international opportunities for FMs.

For the latest on who will be speaking at the conference and what they will cover, click here.