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Will artificial intelligence (AI) take my job?
The short answer to the headline’s ominous question is, “Who knows?” The longer answer is, “Who knows? Probably not.” But an alternative to worrying about AI’s impact on maintenance and engineering managers’ jobs might be to focus instead on a better question: How can AI help me do my job?
The challenge right now is figuring out exactly what artificial intelligence is and how it might apply to the duties and responsibilities of facility maintenance and engineering.
ChatGPT is the most prominent AI tool these days. The chatbot uses natural language processing to create humanlike text. Managers might be able to use ChatGPT to perform run-of-the-mill management tasks, such as generating reports, work agreements and requests for proposals.
Beyond that, the benefits of AI for facilities get more promising and more challenging. AI-based applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing have become a bit more common as more facilities have adapted smart technology. These applications promise to bring greater efficiency to everything from preventive and predictive maintenance and access control to energy management and indoor air quality. But the actual benefits for facilities are minimal so far.
The real strength of AI lies in its ability to synthesize and offer insights on facility-related data. For AI to deliver these benefits, though, facilities need the infrastructure in place to provide this data. But not just any data. It needs to be accurate, and there needs to be enough of it for AI applications to deliver meaningful, actionable results.
This is the true AI challenge for managers: As with any other emerging technology or process — from CMMS to predictive maintenance — AI will only produce the desired results if managers build a solid foundation for it to operate on.
As for job security, managers who meet this AI challenge successfully will have proven their worth to the organization.
Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management.