Sparking Inspiration: Key Education Takeaways from Illuminate 2024

4 minutes
Katie at Illuminate

I recently attended my first Illuminate Conference in Raleigh, NC with Brightly Software staff and clients. It was an amazing event that offered opportunities to network, learn from each other, and hear from a diverse array of clients on ways to improve our software and help our clients connect to improve their own processes. I connected with facilities leaders from all different types of educational institutions and loved hearing what they are facing, as someone who only recently transitioned from the work myself. 

I heard a wealth of insights tailored to navigating the complex landscape of facilities, operations, and asset management in schools—K-12, Higher Education, and Independent Private Schools. Throughout the presentations, panels, and networking opportunities, I heard common themes emerge as we work to revolutionize how educational institutions tackle their facilities, operational, and asset management challenges. Here are my key takeaways from Illuminate 2024: 

  • Learn from Real-Life Success Stories: Illuminate 2024 showcased inspiring success stories from various sectors, including education. Notable examples included Baltimore City Schools, which serves as a prime example of a client that utilized Brightly to enact change. Monique Roumo, Executive Director of Operations, along with CMMS Manager Patrick McGough, shared their journey transitioning from a legacy solution to Brightly's Asset Essentials in 2016. This shift empowered BCPS to automate workflow processes, gain better insights into facilities maintenance, and adopt a more asset-centered approach to decision-making, ensuring a safe and conducive learning environment for all students. 
  • Embrace Change and Innovation: A resounding theme throughout Illuminate 2024 was the imperative for educational leaders to embrace change and innovation. Alexander Villaneuva, Director of Facilities and Maintenance from the Waco Independent School District shared his success story using Brightly not only for day-to-day maintenance but also in response to a major insurance claim. By maximizing the use of Brightly's software solutions, Waco ISD achieved remarkable results, including securing bond funding for new school buildings, increasing insurance claim payouts, and justifying the creation of a new preventative maintenance team. 
  • Harness the Power of Data: Illuminate 2024 highlighted the transformative potential of leveraging technology to harness the power of data. Chris DeJuneas, Enterprise Solutions Consultant for Brightly, had one of the top attended two-part sessions in which he helped school leaders understand how to better tell their asset story. He explored what participants owned, analyzed trend data, and delved into analytics. As a true data scientist, he helped explain how to utilize analytics tools effectively. He also provided a deeper understanding on how assets degrade, the available treatment options, and how asset degradation modeling could be used to overcome backlog issues. Examples of custom degradation curves were shown, demonstrating how others created long-term capital plans using the Predictor or Origin program. 
  • Adopt a Holistic Approach: A holistic approach to asset management emerged as a cornerstone of the discussions at Illuminate 2024. A truly comprehensive approach will include asset investment planning as well as sustainability practices. Client Award Winner, Anabel Schneller, ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) Coordinator for BentalGreenOak (BGO), whose leadership in sustainability within commercial real estate, highlighted the potential for translating such efforts to educational settings. Her hands-on approach included coaching property teams, engaging with tenants, and utilizing Brightly's Stream to make data-driven decisions. Anabel's dedication to sustainability not only aligns with BGO's net-zero emissions goal, but also sets a precedent for sustainable practices in school facilities. Her proactive efforts inspired collaboration and empowered stakeholders to embrace environmental stewardship, ultimately fostering a culture of sustainability. 
  • Foster Collaboration and Partnerships: Collaboration was emphasized as pivotal at Illuminate 2024, highlighting the transformative power of partnerships. By collaborating with technology providers like Brightly and industry leaders, educational institutions can access resources and expertise to drive innovation, operational excellence, and sustainability initiatives.  

    Illuminate created a sounding board for our clients to meet with our product and technology teams to share feedback, receive training, and work together to ensure our clients are able to get the most out of our software  Additionally, it fostered networking among clients, enabling discussions on processes, successes, and challenges. 

    The partnership between Brightly and Siemens focuses on leveraging combined resources to enhance client experiences. Siemens prioritizes digitalization, aligning with Brightly's commitment to improving building and manufacturing operations through real-time data utilization. With Siemens' support, Brightly aims to maintain its identity while expanding its reach and resources, benefiting both the company and its clients.  

  • Cultivate a Culture of Continuous Improvement: The importance of continuous learning and improvement was underscored throughout the event. Brett Hewitt, Assistant Director of Wake Forest University, shared his experience with Brightly to improve maintenance staff efficiency and timeliness. Implementing Brightly's Asset Essentials software solution enabled Wake Forest University to achieve significant improvements in facility maintenance and work order management. 

Not only did Illuminate 2024 have an epic concert and client bash karaoke dance party, but it also provided education facilities and operations leaders with invaluable insights and strategies for enhancing asset management, operational efficiency, and sustainability within their institutions. By embracing innovation, leveraging data analytics, fostering collaboration, and cultivating a culture of continuous improvement, education facilities and operations leaders can position their schools for success in an ever-changing landscape, fostering environments that support student success and contribute to a brighter future for all. 

Band at Brightly Bash