The following post was originally featured on Bell’s Blog and was authored by Michael Bell. Michael originally defined IWMS while at Gartner and is currently senior advisor to Visual Lease.

As a Gartner analyst some years ago, I focused on the real estate/ facilities management software space. I had spent nearly thirty years in corporate real estate, and was perhaps the only analyst at Gartner who had a broad and varied background in corporate real estate. I wrote one of my first research notes in April of 2003 on the corporate real estate and facilities management space when I identified the key components of what I later named IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management Systems). These elements included:

  1. Real Estate Management
  2. Facilities Management (CAFM)
  3. Design and Space Management; and
  4. Maintenance Management (CMMS)

Subsequently, facilities environmental sustainability was added to the list of core functionality.

In November of 2004, I published the first Gartner Magic Quadrant on what I defined at the time as Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS). Initially I received “push back” from the corporate real estate community on the acronym. Many felt that the absence of “real estate” in the acronym diluted the prestige of their position and function.  Software vendors were particularly annoyed with the acronym, but several began to use it in their subsequent marketing. Within a year, the acronym became widely adopted.

I chose these words carefully since I truly believed that the power of these applications lay in the four dimensions. First, “Integrated:” data and processes from the full life cycle of facilities management would benefit from being tied together. Second, I chose the word “workplace” over real estate or facilities, since the nature of how and where people worked was undergoing transformation from places to a multiplicity of settings from home offices, shared work settings, and virtual offices. I viewed IWMS applications as the primary platform for workplace services. Third, I chose “management systems” to emphasize the enterprise nature of the suite of applications. Like ERP, HCM, and other enterprise class software, IWMS was truly in all its dimensions an enterprise level of functionality and data management.

Today, the IWMS market has matured greatly. The fact that major software vendors such as IBM, SAP, and Oracle have committed to IWMS with major acquisitions and product development testifies to its market maturity. Another dimension of its market growth is the global reach of its proliferation. The current Gartner magic quadrant (June, 2014) cited Manhattan and Planon as “Leaders” for their broad global presence, and multi-language, multi-currency functionality.

In a future blog we’ll explore the future of IWMS, what we call “IWMS 2.0.” The advent of cloud computing, combined with the rapid growth of mobile computing has redefined the meaning and nature of integrated systems.  No longer do we think that IWMS can only be achieved through a single massive (and expensive) premises based system. Best-in-breed solutions united in the cloud is now at hand, drastically reducing total cost of ownership, install time and rapid achievement of ROI.

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