If you look back 20 years, services companies had to overcompensate with people because technology had not caught up, and processes and procedures were still being defined. Now, the trailblazers are leveraging technology and a strategic framework to deliver the same services with less on-site staff. Using lean principles, services companies are improving resource utilization, driving workflow efficiency, and reducing costs. This Multi-Skilled Operator Model (MSO), as we call it, is where people become cross-functional or multi-skilled, working across boundaries while ensuring consistent service delivery. It reaps the benefits of increased productivity, a deeper understanding of the business as a whole and better quality of deliverables. Multi-skilling is also ideal for coping with common unpredictable business issues that arise within mission critical environments.
This strategy improves communication between resource managers and stakeholders where demand is predictable and manageable. The model also promotes career development and advancement as well as the improvement of job satisfaction, with organizations seeing, on average, a 47 percent increase in employment duration for employees who perform multi-skilled functions. Ultimately, the goal is to find and maintain a balance that improves efficiency without over-utilizing people to the point that it impacts their performance and leads to burnout.
Key Metrics Driven by a Multi-Skilled Model
Reducing the carbon footprint, improving resource utilization and saving money are among the top objectives data centers face in the coming years. As infrastructure evolves, so do the strategies behind efficiency and sustainability. And with innovation at the forefront of continuous expansion, there are several ways digital leaders are evolving their vision to ensure positive business outcomes and secure their business for the future.
- Adopting a multi-skilled approach can reduce on-site staffing requirements by at least 35%, lowering energy consumption by 30% (on average), while optimizing capacity.
- Digitizing on-site processes to eliminate non-value-added activity in everything from recording rounds and reads to aggregating and analyzing trends.
- Using condition-based maintenance processes to reduce risk and cost by only maintaining equipment when appropriate.
- Embedding sustainability best practices in training programs, which in turn also drives significant savings.
- Using automation for maintenance management systems and optimization of procedures, which in turn reduces labor and increases quality.
- Implementing environmental sensors and controls to reduce consumption with real-time results.
- Using facility life-cycle management systems to drive transparency to achieve the highest safety, quality and communication standards.
The Future of Technology in Digital Infrastructure
Technicians of the future will need to be multi-skilled, able to provide a level of facility infrastructure (electrical and mechanical) support, but also have IT skills in their toolkit as well, being the hands and eyes for the tenant who could be hundreds of miles away. To do this, they will need to be armed with the technology proven to improve productivity and performance.
To start, Gartner’s recent industry analysis report said, “By 2025, 70% of organizations will implement structured infrastructure automation to deliver flexibility and efficiency, up from 20% in 2021.” Besides automation, innovative data centers use drones for security patrols, roof and façade inspections and infrared moisture surveys. Robots are also quickly becoming a popular resource to perform rounds and readings, clean floors, provide security escorts, perform Infrared (IR) scanning in critical environments and to decommission end-of-life IT equipment. And lastly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are used to gather data and a resource to arm technicians with the information to make decisions for condition-based maintenance, predicting equipment failures, autonomous control of equipment settings and enabling lights-out operations. As an example, it is said that AI implementation reduces the time required to process change orders by 200% allowing digital infrastructure to be far more flexible and resilient. As a result, it also optimizes program-level resources by 50% on average. That includes processes such as change management, configuration management and capacity planning.
In the end, the multi-skilled approach paired with technology to drive high performance and lower costs are the future of digital infrastructure. And without the winning combination, it will not reach its potential.