Future of smart buildings
The advent of the internet of things (IoT) has revolutionised how we connect with each other, providing countless streams of data that can be used to enhance our daily lives and, moreover, how we work – but the surface has only just been scratched.
With the IoT, employees can connect to each other and their surroundings more easily to enhance collaboration and productivity, while all facets of the buildings they occupy become ripe for reconfiguration to generate a more relevant and effective workspace, making significant cost-savings.
Of course, this is the ideal. Some may say that the kind of holistic and cohesive approach, which is redefining what it means to be a smart space, is long overdue. Often the “smart” label has been used loosely in the business narrative, with many organisations purporting to be so when the reality doesn’t merit the description. Despite good intentions and generous budgets, the focus can be too narrow, the approach too tokenistic and key errors made around basic implementation which ultimately thwarts success.
Applying a piecemeal, ad hoc approach to smart technology is a particularly common pitfall. Although some have gone as far as integrating their digital applications and infrastructure throughout their portfolios, the critical element that is missing is an overarching system which can make sense of how the end-user engages and interacts with the buildings.
Many organisations deploy intelligent systems that are placed into discreet silos, only dealing with single core mechanics and functions at an infrastructure or operational level. This results in critical data being collected in a singular fashion to resolve singular issues. More often than not, the humanistic element that is absolutely essential in creating smart, engaging environments is a secondary consideration or in some instances overlooked completely.
This highlights the absolute importance of integrating all intelligent systems, applications, digital networks and devices, so data can be collectively harvested and analysed to improve every area of a building. But it also demonstrates that technology only goes so far in solving the smart-building conundrum and the real smart application lies in the development of a connected, human-centric strategy.
A building becomes smart when the data is used to make it more engaging, more productive and more efficient for its occupants, and this requires continual two-way interactivity which sits at the heart of a connected strategy.
The smart arena can be a minefield for time-strapped and cost-conscious businesses that want to harness smart technologies. With a growing number of organisations now looking to maximise their office spaces more effectively, increase efficiencies, workforce productivity and retention, the need to transform business practices is becoming evermore paramount.
Smart thinking can no longer be confined to energy efficiencies, lighting and security; detailed knowledge and strategy is critical to creating a smart ecosystem.
Businesses such as RedstoneConnect provide the full infrastructure capabilities and software applications to deliver smart buildings. Its OneSpace connected employee and workspace management software is a real advancement in the space, future-proofing and evolving business aspirations on a global scale.
Sitting on a highly engineered open architecture platform, the software enables users to engage with IoT across a broad range of capabilities to create a holistic approach necessary to ensure return on investment (ROI). Uniquely, OneSpace is available as a total solution or in modules such as wayfinding – maps and navigation systems that guide people through a physical environment – visitor management, and workspace and meeting room management, providing best-in-class capability.
The software is designed to be wholly employee centric, fully connecting and enhancing the workplace environment, even extending to gyms, restaurants, vending, employee welfare and safety applications on the work campus.
Not only does the system pull together disparate data sources from existing technology within any given building, it enables the complete analysis of the data to establish frictionless engagement and seamless interactions. This enables occupants to navigate the workplace, identifying the best place to work or hold an informal meeting, all via their smartphone or dedicated kiosks in the building.
These tools generate a real-time digital heatmap that when analysed provides valuable insight on how workspaces are being used. The information is then processed to inform the connected strategy that is vital in understanding how the building needs to adapt and evolve to maximise interactivity and ROI.
UBM, the international media and events company, tapped into OneSpace to make better use of its prime London property, condensing seven floors of occupancy to six, while increasing headcount at the location. This move generated a multi-million-pound reduction in real-estate costs and improved the productivity tools available to its workforce. UBM has since rolled out the solution to 11 of their locations worldwide.
Another example is global banking giant UBS that uses OneSpace to provide desk management and navigation tools at their stunning new headquarters in Broadgate, London. They have since rolled out the solution to other locations in the UK, India and United States.
With both these customers and others, the solution is strategic in design and software driven. There is no need to install intrusive hardware, such as sensors and proprietary equipment; the result is lower costs and higher installation speeds. OneSpace can be deployed in a matter of hours or days, using software-only sensors to deliver services, and generating data instantly.
Notably, a human-centric ethos permeates all propositions; a smart environment is one where technology works in tandem with people and continues to evolve in line with their needs. Only with this synergy does the OneSpace solution have the foundations for broader organisational change and the means to affect how people work.
This intervention not only brings greater efficiency and convenience to the working day, but can have a significant impact on employee wellbeing, becoming a potent tool in the retention and productivity of talent.
If a truly connected, smart environment is very much a sum of parts, making this vision work in practice involves addressing the integration of all elements into one cohesive, single software platform. Drawing and integrating information from a variety of sources, while ensuring stringent security controls, requires an underlying architecture that is agile and ready to adapt.
The solution to meeting these growing demands is found in software solutions such as OneSpace that can be scaled up or down and tailored to suit businesses’ needs and wants.
Organisations that want to take control of their real estate, while supporting their connected employees, and attracting and retaining the best talent, need to have holistic smart technologies and strategies in place for their buildings. It’s no longer a nice to have, but an essential requirement in today’s business world.
As originally seen in ‘INTERNET OF THINGS FOR BUSINESS’ published by Raconteur Media on 28th November 2017 in THE TIMES.