In this KBS conversation with Zulfiqar Rashid we discuss the role of technology at KBS and how it is driving value for clients and the role technology has played in helping KBS on the front lines of COVID.

Introduction

Hello, my name is James Krouse. I’m the vice president of marketing at KBS. KBS provides essential facilities services across North America that help companies stay ahead of the curve. A big part of staying ahead of the curve lies in technology. Throughout its history, KBS has invested heavily in technology, and that has helped many of its clients raise standards and lower costs at scale nationwide. I spoke with Zulfiqar Rashid, who is CIO and President of operations at KBS, about how technology is helping its clients, how the role of technology and facility services is evolving, and how COVID is impacting how KBS is leveraging technology now and in the future.

James Krouse

Zulfiqar, can we start out by just describing the role of technology at KBS? How did it evolve historically?

Zulfiqar Rashid

So technology has always been a key part of KBS’s strategy. It continues to evolve, technology continues to evolve, KBS continues to evolve, and technology continues to be an underpinning of everything that KBS does. The key thing to remember about technology at KBS is technology has to be fit for purpose. We don’t think about technology as “it’s the latest and greatest thing to do.” So we need to do it. It has to be fit for purpose. Meaning what? Meaning it has to create a some kind of a value for our customers and for KBS and its stakeholders. So that’s really the role of technology at KBS. We don’t really differentiate KBS from operations. It’s intermingled. Everything that KBS does, whether it’s our field operations our customer service, our HR. Regardless of the function. The underpinning is technology. That’s the role of technology at KBS.

James Krouse

And how does technology differentiate KBS from other facilities service providers?

Zulfiqar Rashid

One of the key differences between how KBS views or uses technology is, I would say the underpinning of the expertise that KBS has brought in. So KBS has invested a lot of money and technology in building out the team that has the expertise for the relevant technologies in this space. Again, fit for purpose is we just need to keep that in mind. Fit for purpose is very, very important. It’s an important concept because we think about technology and the efficient and effective use of the dollars associated with technology that are spent on technology. So one of the differentiators is that the team at KBS has the expertise in leading edge technologies. Cloud. Agile. Dev-ops. But also along with the with the expertise the team has the wherewithal to keep in mind how to best leverage those technologies, not for the sake of technology, but again, how can we create higher value for our customers and how can we make ourselves more efficient? So all of the KBS solutions are SAS solutions, and so we have almost no on premise solution because of this, because of what KBS is, and we don’t need to have a data center at this point. At some future point, maybe, but not right now. The solutions that we develop because of our expertise, we are able to evaluate the build versus buy solution. So where we need to build a solution, we have the expertise to build it, but where it makes sense to, it’s more effective to find a solution. That’s what we do. So it’s a it’s a very nice hybrid. And that’s what is, from my perspective, a key differentiation between how KBS uses this technology to differentiate itself and its operations and to create value for our customers. An example of this would be KBSForce. So KBSForce is our proprietary technology that was built over the last few years. And the purpose is to provide real time, actionable data to our very dispersed field team. So think about hundreds of field managers dispersed across the country, managing tens of thousands of locations with tens of thousands of people. So it’s a very complex logistical problem to solve, to provide the right data for the right person that they can take action on. That’s something that we build ourselves because we couldn’t find a solution for that out in the in the world. But there are other solutions that we have at KBS. All of our enterprise solutions are world class enterprise solutions, whether it’s NetSuite with its WorkDay. These are solutions that are again fit for purpose. And what we need to provide the best solution for our best solutions and services for our customers in the most efficient and effective way possible.

James Krouse

And so how does this differentiation in technology actually benefit KBS clients?

Zulfiqar Rashid

From a customer standpoint, what we see is that we are able to provide a very differentiated service because of our expertise, because of the expertise of the IT team at KBS. We are able to work, for example, with customers and the customers IT team directly, whether it’s to create deep integration with work or the systems or to collaborate with customers in having their I.T. team create new APIs where we can extract or submit data electronically to their system. That level of expertise within KBS allows us to get much better integrated with our customer systems and hence allow us to have the information flow again, more real time and much, much more efficiently than well any of the mechanisms that you can think of. So that’s one area, one way that the customer benefits from our expertise and from our technology. The other example, the other area that I would say where which is of benefit to our customers is us being able to provide very purpose-built and custom solutions to fit that exact need for our customers. So whether it’s creating a specialized portal for our customers where we can we can feed in data from our systems and the customers have access realtime to that data without, again, any other mechanism of sending the data or information or intelligence to our customers. We are able to build a solution in collaboration with the customer, exactly how they like it, exactly how the customer wants to see the information and exactly how the customer wants to access that information. Those are huge benefits that one normally would not expect or anticipate from a services company in this in this environment. However, KBS again tying it back to the investment that KBS has made in the technology and the technology over the years is in a position where we can differentiate and provide a differentiated service along with our IFM services to our customers from a technology standpoint.

James Krouse

And can you give us an idea of how KBS has approached technology as it relates to the COVID crisis?

Zulfiqar Rashid

When we talk about technology, it includes new tools and equipment, machines that could be used or should be used to provide certain service. So as far as we have always been doing rain and flooding, it’s just a whole new meaning with electrostatic spraying with different chemicals for that in the KBS context, it’s all part of the technology because it is a tool. It’s not software, but it is a tool that is used that can be used to deliver the services more effectively and efficiently. So I think it is a. That there are other aspects that has occurred in terms of technology where our presence to our ability to demonstrate that we were there or not there at that location at that time takes on an even more important meaning. Geopresence. Task verification. Were you in that part of the building? Show us. Because our campus, consists of 30 different buildings that are large buildings, three or four hundred thousand square feet. How do you demonstrate to us that you were in each one of those buildings? Technology enables us to do that. QR codes and sensors with our solutions. Allow us to do that. It’s accelerated. Certainly it has accelerated. And then if you look at things like robotic scrubbers as you have the need for more frequent cleaning and confirmed cleaning, I think robotics will continue to be more and more important as part of the solution set that KBS offers to our customers.

James Krouse

That was Zulfiqar Rashid, CIO and president of operations at KBS. You can learn more about KBS and its approach to technology at kbs-services.com.

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