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Smart Offices on the Rise: The Benefits of Integrated Intelligence in the Workplace

August 30, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Arushi Srivastava, Senior Director of Digital Experience Practice of NTT DATA Americas

The total market size of smart offices is expected to reach more than $43 billion by 2020 according to recent research by MarketsandMarkets. This growth in spending is designed to help companies improve efficiency, while also reducing overhead costs.

Typically, IT spending has been reserved for maintaining legacy software systems and implementing cloud storage systems, but the relatively new technological concept of intelligent workspaces are quickly gaining momentum and helping making modern offices even smarter.

What is a Smart Office?

The term smart office, or intelligent workplace, is defined as the integration of technology into a physical office space resulting in financial savings, increased business performance and additional data for optimization purposes.

Workplaces are evolving due to the changing workforce demographics, combined with the technological expectations of both the modern employees as well as consumers. The omnipresence of personal devices is setting new expectations and redefining how offices approach on-site technology. Smart offices are gaining traction as technology continues to improve exponentially while simultaneously becoming more affordable. As a result, demand is growing for intelligent building solutions that are green and provide smart integration for personal devices that improve efficiency.

Benefits of Smart Offices

Smart offices made initial strides in the early 2000’s centered on cost and energy optimization, specifically with motion sensor lighting. However, as technologies have improved and costs have decreased, companies have increased their technology adoption rates and are seeing unrivaled benefits.

The following are the top four benefits of how businesses can take advantage of smart offices:

1. Identity Management

Organizations are now implementing facial recognition programs and ID trackers to assist with physical office security, as well as improving employee efficiency. Geo-location tracking technology allows companies to professionally monitor the location of employees to review efficiency. An example is in a hospital, providers can track nurses to monitoring how much time is spent with each patient to help improve care and productivity.

Companies in need of additional security at their physical offices are also automating protocols to integrate with identity management technology for remote security clearance, meaning employees can simply look at a security camera to access secure locations based on facial recognition software.

2. Energy/Resource Utilization

Similar to how many offices began with lighting automation, modern smart offices are realizing increased benefits by applying technology to help further reduce utility costs and optimize resource management.

For example, one increasing trend is commercial HVAC units integrating with smart technologies, such as apps that allow offices to control the temperature remotely, including individual floors and rooms. This results in reduced costs for the building owners, as well as the utility costs for tenants.

In addition, there has recently been a rise in green technology automation with indoor plant watering systems that deliver the precise amount of water and nutrients to keep plants healthy.

3. Navigation

Companies with large campuses, such as Google and VMWare, need streamlined methods for assisting new employees and visitors with on-sight navigation. This technology can range from outdoor touch-screen maps to corporate-sponsored map apps that help individuals become familiar with their surroundings. Other businesses, like Amazon and Ikea, can also benefit from navigation technology to help employees quickly find products in warehouse or to provide customers in-store directions to specific departments.

Navigation technology can also be used with digital customer service to help answer the questions that individuals may have while exploring stores or large company campuses. This provides another touchpoint for customer/employee engagement aided through technological advances of smart offices.

4. Automation

Automation is the biggest appeal of integrating smart technology into an intelligent office. With the advancement of artificial intelligence and data management programs, businesses can track new metrics that enable the company to optimize business processes and better target customers.

For example, the retail and hospitality industries heavily rely on foot-traffic patterns as indicators of performance. By adding automated technologies, these patterns can be more accurately measured and monitored. Geo-location technology can also help with automation by providing coupons, notifications or customer service cues automatically once an individual enters a specific location.

Future of Smart Office Technologies

As technologies continue to improve, ease-of-use and cost of adoption will decrease, making smart offices inevitable. However, how quickly this occurs will vary.

In the near future, offices will feature new technologies that operate without the need to overhaul traditional building infrastructure. For example, sensors and buttons will be used as “add-on” solutions that improve existing technology, such as dash buttons attached to printers that automatically order new paper. These adaptive technologies will save companies time and money by not having to replace entire appliances or renovate infrastructure.

Future smart office technologies will be focused on creating inherently smart office spaces with robust, sustainable, connected and scalable solutions that allow businesses to capitalize on each of the benefits mentioned above and many more of those yet to be conceptualized.

This technology trend has the potential of reimagining the workplace experience, as we know of today. The key to be a leader in this space will be user experience and smart design concepts. After all, an experience is smart only if it is an integrated, intelligent, intuitive and above all an easy experience.

Arushi

Arushi Srivastava is the Senior Director of Digital Experience practice of NTT DATA Americas. She leads the Advanced Technology team with several initiatives around IoT, Analytics, Blockchain, Digital Engagement and Design Thinking. She advises corporate leaders on architecting next generation enterprise solutions which aim at being Social by Design and result in Pervasive Digital Experience.

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