Pradeep Lala MD CEO, Embassy Services Private Limited, explains, how technologies such as IoT and robotics are altering the FM landscape
COVID-19 changed everything. The pandemic has created incredible challenges to all types of commercial entities, and facility management is no exception. In fact, it is one area that has been particularly affected last year. At present, with more offices reopening and workplaces getting reorganized, there is a greater need to pay attention to this segment. As the immediate concern of any employer is to ensure health, safety and well-being of its staff members, experts believe technology will play a crucial role in how facility management moves forward.
Pradeep Lala, Managing Director and CEO, Embassy Services Private Limited, a Bangalore-based company that offers facilities management services to enterprises, too sees a lot of potential in this space, especially with newer technologies such as AI, IoT and robotics altering the FM landscape and reshaping employee experiences.
With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA in Finance, who has led the FM domain for one and a half decade, Lala also talks about his entrepreneurial journey, the challenges and opportunities he sees in the FM space, his love for golf and many more. Excerpt.
CXOToday: Tell us something about your entrepreneurial journey? What was the biggest challenge you faced as an entrepreneur?
Pradeep Lala: My entrepreneurial journey started in early 2000 when I founded the Horizon group to become the distributor of Ingersoll Rand’s engineering equipment, a company where I served for over 14 years as an employee. It was in 2013 when I got another opportunity of leading Embassy Services when the organization was poised for its next phase of growth. My joining since then has only been a journey onward and upward. Both the firms continue to scale their success quotients through well established and hard-working teams who find solace in resilience.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was my lack of experience in Facility Management when I joined Embassy Services. I was offered the role of leading ESPL by my friend Mr. Jitu Virwani (Chairman & Managing Director of Embassy Group), who despite my lack of expertise in facility management, trusted my ability to lead a team that will pursue excellence. Also with the guidance of my team and colleagues, it seemed a hurdle I jumped quite fast.
CXOToday: The facility management market is growing. What has triggered the growth in this area?
Pradeep Lala: The facility management market in India is quite fragmented with the majority of establishments running their operations with in-house resources. However, over the past decade, with many more global organizations coming into India and stricter compliance norms being set in place, the need to outsource the function to a more specialized and professional facility management firm is being understood.
The pandemic has also created a paradigm shift in the way businesses grade their workplace wellbeing. Security, hygiene, and sanitation are top priorities for business at the moment and this will continue to be an integral part of a firm’s vision and mission over the long term. This in turn will cater to an increased demand for professional facility management firms such as ours.
CXOToday: How do you think the adoption of disruptive technologies such as IoT, robotics, and drones is changing the landscape?
Pradeep Lala: The constant evolution and adaptation to newer technologies are essential to our evolution. Many businesses have proactively pursued the transformation to technology which enhances the efficiency and sustainability of their operations and processes.
Especially in the facility management sector which best describes manual work modules, today through the combination of man and machine, the proficiency of delivering excellence in facility maintenance is phenomenal. While the inclusion of IoT and sensor technology allows for a data-centric approach to FM, using the data to alter consumption and flow patterns leads to long terms savings in cost, time, and energy. The implementation of cloud-based activity too has reduced the need for paper and data collation which leaves the operations teams with more time on their core function rather than sitting on data collation.
Drone technology has also proved a great differentiator for the FM sector. An example would be the drone disinfection drive we did in collaboration with BMC Mumbai to fumigate mosquito breeding grounds in the Worli district. Not only were we able to access areas usually inaccessible, but we were also able to cover a much larger area in much lesser time.
CXOToday: What are the implementation challenges faced by the enterprises in this area?
Pradeep Lala: The greatest challenge many face with digital transformation is with the transition process. While research and development of tools have their challenges, the implementation stage can pose some trouble. Post this comes the phase of familiarity, it takes great effort to be able to switch from doing routine tasks manually for ages to shift to digitalized modules.
CXOToday: What are your tech related plans with Embassy Services for the next one year?
Pradeep Lala: Our core focus is on the constant enhancement of technology tools for integrated facility management. We are already leveraging the proficiency of customized proptech tools that bolster our best practices, we plan to continue the same. We will also focus on the Industrial and Warehousing segments which will receive much growth and support for infrastructure and development across the country. Through our globally certified practices coupled with IoT, Sensors, and Cloud-based technology, we will be able to contribute greatly to the demand for efficient space management.
CXOToday: You believe that golf is a great way to de-stress. What lessons do you learn from this entire sport that you can share with our CXO readers?
Pradeep Lala: The game is something that draws strong parallels to life on the whole; Just like the course has its many challenges and you need to pace your game and plan your shots with the ‘bigger picture’ in mind. My thoughts can be best described through a quote from Ben Hogan – “The most important shot in golf is the next one!” All leaders will thoroughly understand the criticality of planning and factoring risks.