Consolidating KEYSTONE: the next generation of workplace digitisation

We finally nailed down our CIO, Gordon Mitchell, for a sneak preview of KEYSTONE, the next-generation of workplace digitisation.


Hi Gordon, so tell us a bit about the background to KEYSTONE?

For many years our Innovation Unit has been working on how to resolve key FM and client challenges.  These include the challenges we see looming on the horizon and those our contract teams experience on-the-ground.  Our vision for KEYSTONE has emerged from this work in a very holistic way.

Piecing together the vision has been quite an adventure.  We knew what we needed the various parts to do.  However, we didn’t know if what we were imagining existed out there or was even possible.

The journey has taken us off the beaten path -FM trade shows, conferences and the like.  KEYSTONE includes some applications not originally intended for an FM context.  There have also been serendipitous turns. Sometimes cutting-edge solutions seemed to emerge to fill the gaps right on cue.

It’s been exciting working closely with entrepreneurs on honing new tech.  Often, we’ve been the first to trial these in a live operational environment.  We’ve been delighted to find some best-in-class partners here on our Scottish home turf.  Others have taken us further afield.

In fact, we’re just back from a trip visiting our European partners, for relationship-building and shaping up shared goals and understanding.  It’s ironic that getting an online environment right first time is all about what happens offline.  Nevertheless, we’ve always found this to be the case.


Visiting European Partners to consolidate KEYSTONE, the next generation of workplace digitisation Visiting European Partners to consolidate KEYSTONE, the next generation of workplace digitisation



KEYSTONE will be a significant upgrade of the Integrated Operations component of KEY’s FM Management System.  It’s due for launch in its totality in the first quarter of 2019, although its first modules are to go online imminently.

Conceptually speaking, KEYSTONE can be thought of as a single repository for all information necessary for optimal operational performance.  It empowers small teams to manage big operations, and confers adaptability and stability in the face of disruptive forces.


KEYSTONE, the next generation of workplace digitisation


However, at the same time, when looking into KEYSTONE, each user will have their own unique view of that information, specific to their immediate needs and context.

Tailored, yet unified.


What are KEYSTONE’s core benefits? (i) A tailored, enhanced user experience

System designers often treat the way information surfaces in terms of user categories –FMs, clients and customers, for example.  This approach is inappropriate in an FM context, where user needs are very nuanced

For illustration: a typical international contract can involve upwards of 50 managers, FM and client.  These operate at multiple management levels.  Each requires very different information to improve organisational performance -EHS, SLAs, asset depreciation, a clear unified work stream, and so forth.

There’s also your work teams, internal and third-party.  A chemical spill on the fifth floor requires urgent specialist cleaning.  Or the HVAC’s down on a sweltering day and the new maintenance guy needs to get-up-to-speed on the system fast.

Then you’ve your onsite customers.  It’s a busy day and they need to find that last available parking place, meeting room or canteen table.  Or they want to raise an urgent work request about that spill or broken HVAC.

And the  list goes on.

Our goal is that whenever any of these users logs into KEYSTONE, they find only the specific information or actions they need at that time, presented simply and intuitively.  Its dynamically-responsive user interface also means the display adapts to whatever device they’re using, for accessibility and usability.

Furthermore, KEYSTONE can also include a fully-realised 3D digital twin of client workplaces, with an augmented reality feature.  This enables users to way find or navigate building information remotely, or on a mobile from within the facility, taking the perspective from a user’s specific location.


3D workplace modelling: KEYSTONE, the next-generation of workplace digitisation


Our objective is that users see KEYSTONE not so much a platform, but as a personal assistant.  This adapts seamlessly to context, and is always on hand with the exactly the information they need, the way they need it.


What are KEYSTONE’S core benefits? (ii) Unified, autonomous, self-aware workplaces

Conventional FM suffers from what philosophy calls the mind-matter problem, that is, the perception that people are somehow separate from the built environment they manage or occupy.

KEYSTONE regards both as a single living system, one which requires minimal FM, because it has the capability to regulate its own wellbeing and performance.

Underpinning this system are affordable smart sensors, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, which monitor and report on occupancy, resource utilisation and environmental performance in real-time.  Our field tests suggest these can support new cycles of virtuous feedback, nurturing organisations which are more productive and efficient, as well as being healthier and happier.


Autonomous and self aware workplaces: KEYSTONE: the next-generation of workplace digitisation

KEYSTONE has also been designed for a seamless upgrade from our Integrated Operations solution.  This means clients can continue to benefit from our current platform, and then transition smoothly to KEYSTONE as its modules come online.


In Conclusion…

KEYSTONE is the summation of KEY’s FM and technology know-how to-date.  It is a comprehensive repository of all real-time and historic information relevant to optimal operational performance, and which is tailored to specific user needs and contexts.

I believe strongly the relationships between people and the built environment enabled by products like KEYSTONE represent a genuinely new horizon for workplace experiences and optimisation for both FM and client organisations alike.  Exciting times indeed!


I want to learn more about:

ISO 41000: Foundation for a New Era of Facility Management

A video about how synergies between the evolution of FM standardisation and of digital technologies are driving a genuinely new era of Facility Management.  The presentation is by KEY CEO, Stan Mitchell, and was recorded at the European Facilities Management Conference 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Interested in learning more about?:


Bringing the Benefits of True FM to the Highland and Islands Region

One of KEY’s 2017 objectives is the significantly expansion of our operations in the Highlands and Islands region.  Our aim is to bring the benefits of our home-grown True FM to local businesses and organisations.

“We’re the longest running FM company in the UK.  While we have a global arena of operations, bringing value to our Scottish homeland has always been of special importance to us,” KEY CEO, Stan Mitchell.

KEY’s flagship project in HIE is ‘Nucleus’, which opened February 2017.  Nucleus is a new 5,000 square metre archiving facility in Wick.  We supported Crimson UK Ltd and Restore Scan Ltd throughout the design and mobilisation process.  Now we provide ongoing services for them including M&E maintenance, energy management, cleaning and other FM aspects.

“KEY supported us through all the various phases of the archive project from tender through mobilisation and into operational. They have provided a professional and innovative service which enabled us to better support our own client.  We have built an excellent ‘one team’ working relationship over the last two years.  We look forward to this continuing for many years to come,” Edd Whiting, Contracts & Commercial Manager, Restore Scan Ltd.

A core responsibility for us at Nucleus is to maintain strict environmental conditions.  This is required to protect historic records for the UK nuclear industry, and also for Caithness County.  Some of the latter date back to the c16th century.

Says Stewart Lackie, a senior Key consultant, “Wick is a perfect example of Key’s True FM thinking and value in action.  We intend to repeat that success for other organisations across the Highlands and Islands in 2017 and beyond.”

True FM is KEY’s core differentiator: a broader aspirational vision of operations which interweaves people, place, proven method and smart technologiesTrue FM revolves around the principle of optimal performance for each and every customer. It is underpinned by our unique capacity to understand your operations, needs and budget constraints.  In turn, this capacity enables us to tailor the right solution for you. Says Stewart:

“The era of the one size fits all approach to FM is over.  Relentless economic and regulatory pressures necessitate nuanced solutions tailored to the specific needs of each enterprise.  For these to deliver optimal value in each case, they need to leverage the best of what’s possible today, and be able to adapt and improve to changing circumstances,” Stewart Lackie, senior KEY consultant.

KEY’s Facilities Management Solutions embody the concept of a integrated, futureproof and cost-effective systems. Alongside conventional FM, these solutions can include maintenance management, smart sensor monitoring, and workplace optimisation.  All our designed for control, and easy implementation and scalability.

If you’re located in the Highlands and Islands region, and think you might benefit from help from the True FM experts, then talk to at or +44 (0) 1786 841603.