In the noisy CRETech space, the future of intelligent buildings is being shaped. Nowhere was the clamor of innovation more apparent than at DisruptCRE in Chicago last week. Hundreds of tech innovators and real estate heavy hitters gathered to talk about best-in-class solutions to some of the industry’s fundamental problems.
One challenge many enterprises face is managing a large commercial real estate portfolio. In this scenario, data-driven insights have immense power to drive key operational decisions and directly impact the bottom line. Most leaders understand this basic sentiment, but in his opening keynote, Matthew Gonterman, CIO, Americas at JLL dug deeper and asked, “How can we use data to respond and react better?”
It starts with awareness. You cannot fix what you cannot see. According to Capgemini’s report Big & Fast Data: The Rise of Insight-Driven Business, “The real battle, however, is for the data that can create the most relevant and pertinent insight: the combination of data sets that allow effective and more rapid monetization of data.”
If data is the commodity of the future, what’s preventing us from collecting and using it effectively?
Build or buy?
During “The State of CRE & Tech: The Executives POV” panel both Rob Franch, CTO at Cushman & Wakefield and Geoffrey Kasselman, Executive Managing Director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank recalled how they were initially hired to build internal solutions for portfolio management. They realized that to remain competitive and deliver a premier tenant experience, they needed to seek answers outside their organizations. Franch and Kasselman soon found themselves hunting for technology partners to help them attain business goals. Today they joke that their titles should be CPO; Chief Partnerships Officer. They advised that as executives evaluate potential solutions, there are some critical considerations.
Will it scale?
According to Kasselman, “We bypass a lot of tech products because we don’t believe there is scalability; they can’t execute on compliance, training, quality control. We need to see ROI before the technology is no longer relevant.” In the increasingly crowded IoT space, many products offer single service solutions, such as metering, environmental monitoring or space utilization. But, when it comes to managing hundreds if not thousands of buildings, that path is simply not realistic. Consider the plethora of sensor-enabled devices in buildings. Lighting, water distribution, HVAC, security systems, fire systems, elevators, boilers, chillers, garages and more. Often, even in large commercial portfolios, each building operates as a siloed entity. The facilities manager of one property might have to monitor several different dashboards to view building activity. There is a considerable risk of overlooking costly operational deficits because the data lives in separate systems and cannot communicate.
Additionally, each time a system’s technology changes or expires, it requires updates or replacement. Thus, the more solutions, the harder to manage and scale. It’s most efficient to avoid the “Internet of Thing”- a term we’ve coined at Switch to describe the ecosystem of IoT that lacks interoperability. Better yet, save time, money and frustration by implementing a consolidated solution that can house, translate, report, interpret and respond from a single dashboard using the wealth of information extracted from buildings.
Avoid buyers remorse
A few tips to propel your organization into the future of intelligent buildings:
First, closed protocol systems pose a significant threat to growth. When a device with a closed protocol breaks, you will likely lose all historical data stored in that system because it can’t communicate outside itself. An open source system is a better bet for future changes and integrations because it allows data to flow to other systems.
Second, on-premise solutions have limited storage capacity and require regular maintenance and updates. To conserve resources and save time, employ a cloud-based framework to lift this burden from the operations team and allow for plenty of future advancement.
Third, when it comes to future proofing building management, a custom system might initially seem appealing, but if you thought the up-front cost of integrating your building was the biggest expense, think again. Whenever changes are necessary, they typically require pricey technical experts and could take weeks or months to complete. Avoid unexpected expenses and delays by selecting a configurable option. It enables future growth and technological evolution, as well as systematic, streamlined expansion.
What about tenants?
Tenants are a key driver for the future of intelligent buildings. Landlords want to attract high-quality tenants to boost their brand image and command higher rents. But, as millennials continue to influence workforce dynamics, building operators are increasingly expected to provide an exceptional occupant experience. What do today’s tenants want? In a nutshell: service, comfort, connectivity and productivity. As Megan Dodds, Director of Community at WeWork noted, two top priorities for the business are helping members communicate and giving them control over their environment. She described how WeWork uses building technology to facilitate member conversations with staff as well as other members across the globe. Dodds also strives to give members control of their workspace environment so they can be as productive as possible.
The future of intelligent buildings
Where will the future take us? We know data is GOLD, but it’s got no value if left in the mine. The experts at DisruptCRE said that when it comes to selecting an intelligent building solution, buying is better; so leave it to the experts to design and build it. While evaluating, ensure the product is scalable and future proofed. Finally, happy tenants mean higher net operating income (NOI), so keep them comfortable, connected, productive and empowered.
Want to experience the future of intelligent buildings?
Mike Grizzle is a Senior Account Executive at Switch Automation who specializes in helping building owners and operators realize the value of intelligent building technology.