Enabling and Optimizing the Smart Digital Workplace
The move toward "smart" workplaces – venues that are interactive, responsive, and flexible – continues to accelerate, driven by major trends that are generational in scope. As a result, organizations in a wide swath of industries are increasing their investment in key technologies and processes that enable a whole new way of working, and savvy commercial and corporate real estate professionals are taking note.
The key trends driving the shift toward the Smart Digital Workplace are varied. First, and for the first time, four separate generations of workers simultaneously comprise the workforce. Millennial and younger workers represent a growing portion of the workforce, whose priorities for their workspaces can be much different than those of their colleagues. Competing for the best workers is therefore a bit more complex, but one unifying factor that appeals to all groups is the promise of a better workplace experience. Second, the migration of enterprise technology to the cloud, with the accompanying increases in flexibility and mobility, removes the fixed association of each worker with a given work position or facility location. Third, agile methods for software development, work processes, and workforce management require the ability to organize work around projects and specific clients, rather than fixed enterprise-wide groups. And finally, the increased use of big data and AI requires gathering, measuring, analyzing and dissemination of ever-larger quantities of information.
All these trends are about fluidity, flexibility, rapid response, collaboration, and global connectivity to meet changing business and market needs. As a result, real estate and IT professionals are seeking to build facilities and systems that meet these needs at a reasonable cost, without sacrificing security, manageability, and other operating requirements. There are significant technical and organizational challenges to meeting this goal, but fortunately, new solutions and approaches are becoming available to help optimize and secure the workplace.
The components of the Smart Digital Workplace revolve around three primary goals, centered on use cases:
- Better employee experiences, such as wayfinding; healthier and more productive, sustainable environments with respect to light, noise, and climate; collaboration interfaces, such as audio-video conferencing and speech recognition; conference room- and workspace-booking; and visitor management
- Improved measurement and control from a building management perspective, such as space utilization, environmentals, physical security and safety, and physical layout (space configuration, furniture elements, etc.)
- Rapid and flexible deployment of space, with all the organization’s requirements in place. This applies to the growing trend of Space as a Service and the growing likelihood of enterprises partnering with providers of flexible space
The technologies required to achieve these goals are concentrated in three main areas: IoT, mobile apps and networking. Underlying the technologies are requirements for data security and privacy. In order for all this to come together, the various stakeholders and organizational processes need to be aligned around the goals.
Many enterprises and facility operators find that complexity and costs have been growing. For example:
- IoT systems are often not interoperable, requiring multiple types of connectivity, software protocols, proprietary hardware, large numbers of single-purpose sensors, gateways, databases, and management systems. Multiple wireless networking standards – LTE (and soon 5G), Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth and others – can lead to higher equipment cost, provisioning and management complexity, and the need for specialized (i.e., hard-to-find) IT skills.
- Multiple mobile apps, often one for each type of experience or use case, can leave occupants and managers frustrated, also increasing the cost of customer support and training.
- Outdated and limited networks, designed for simple connectivity rather than as core enterprise technology platforms, lack sufficient capacity and functionality to support the Smart Digital Workplace.
- The addition of flexible space often means “grafting” the organization’s IT systems onto the ones maintained by the flexible space providers, or implementing expensive replication of the organization’s standard IT environment. This requires extensive project management and investment, which counteract the benefits of flexible space.
- Outdated and/or siloed organizational structures, created before the age of digital transformation, make it more difficult to deploy new solutions that require inter-group collaboration and unified strategy. Indoor location, occupant experience apps, IoT occupancy measurement, and space reservations are specific use cases where this impediment most often occurs.
- Upgraded security levels are required, resulting from an IoT "Tower of Babel," more mobile apps, increased collection of data and other factors.
These challenges need not be daunting, but must be addressed as part of the move toward a Smart Digital Workplace.
Better Technology Solutions Can Help
Fortunately, there are several new technologies that can help organizations to enable and optimize the Smart Digital Workplace. These include:
- More-powerful networking platforms. The interactive environment of the Smart Digital Workplace relies heavily on the underlying layers of networking technology. Leading-edge network vendors are incorporating multiple types of wireless networking into their access points, switches, and other infrastructure, eliminating the need for multiple hardware systems. The new 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 6) offers greatly-increased performance and security. PassPoint will enable painless transition of mobile devices between cellular (current or 5G) and Wi-Fi environments.
- Unified management and security. Infrastructure and application vendors are incorporating a unified approach to manage large numbers of sensors, user-owned equipment, and other devices. For example, a new standard called Device Provisioning Protocol (DPP) allows IoT sensors and other devices to be added, managed, and secured by simply reading a bar code on each device. WPA3 Wi-Fi security is a major improvement upon the current WPA2. Also, AI-based anomaly detection can be used to increase overall security and promote rapid response to threats.
- Interoperable solutions. New partnerships among infrastructure and application vendors will enable customers to buy “out of the box” solutions, pre-integrated and configured, with associated installation and post-installation support.
- Better utilization of data. AI and other techniques are increasingly being used to gather and analyze the river of data from IoT and other systems, in order to provide much better quantitative metrics as well as to detect and counter security threats.
Benchmarking and Ecosystems Also Can Help
Aruba works closely with best-of-breed technology organizations, real estate managers and operators, and customers who are advancing the Smart Digital Workplace. We have found that creating this type of ecosystem and participating in the resulting community help us to optimize our own Smart Digital Workplace, advance the state of the art, and better serve our customers.
Whatever industry your organization is involved with, this approach – benchmarking thought and implementation leadership, and participating in a community – can help you to build a successful Smart Digital Workplace for your organization.
The Bottom Line
Strategically-focused organizations that want to optimize the growth and effectiveness of the Smart Digital Workplace recognize that multiple stakeholders need to combine their skills, remits and budgets to implement integrated, secure solutions rather than separate point products.
These approaches must be driven and coordinated from the top, but implemented by cooperative teams. Stakeholders include IT, Corporate Real Estate, building owners and managers, senior management, security and compliance, and end users. These groups need to work proactively to ensure success, collaborating around a common set of use cases, technologies, strategies, and goals.
Complexity and cost are inevitable in the early stages of a generational change in the environment. However, the maturing capabilities of the technologies involved, the opportunity to adapt organizations and processes through digital transformation, and the many benefits of the results, weigh in favor of continuing momentum and success for the Smart Digital Workplace.
This Week’s Sponsor
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company www.arubanetworks.com, provides next-generation network technologies that allow organizations to create smart, amazing experiences that bridge our physical and digital worlds. Designed for mobility, cloud and the IoT, Aruba’s software-defined, secure Experience Edge Architecture enables people and things to work in harmony and is the foundation for the future of work.
Don't Miss These 9 Exciting Pre-Conference Events | June 11-12
Maximize the value of our pre-conference sessions by bringing your team - IT, FM, PM, Energy, Innovation, Marketing, Sustainability, Operations and Finance ñ when it comes to technology, automation and innovation, Realcomm and IBcon have something for everyone in your organization!
- CRE Cybersecurity Forum
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- Smart Building Integrator Summit (SBIS)
- Higher Education Smart Campus Summit
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- 5G Congress Hosted by: DASpedia
- Property Manager Technology & Innovation Forum Hosted by: IREM
UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE & Technology – The Importance of Developing a STRATEGY - 9/19/2019
It wasn’t long ago that a Commercial Real Estate CIO was responsible only for functions such as networking, file and print servers, computer hardware, desktop applications and e-mail. Over the last 5+ years other responsibilities have entered the sphere of the CIO including marketing, operations (smart buildings), occupant experience and cybersecurity, to name a few. Additionally, emerging technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain, AR/VR, autonomous, robotics and others are impacting their world as well as their clients. Never before has it been so important for a Real Estate CIO to develop a comprehensive digital strategy, encompassing all aspects of the organization. This webinar will focus on the importance of developing a comprehensive digital strategy.
Founder of Realcomm Conference Group, an education organization that produces Realcomm, IBcon and CoRE Tech, the world's leading conferences on technology, automated business solutions, intelligent buildings and energy efficiency for the commercial and corporate real estate industry. As CEO, Jim interacts with some of the largest companies globally pertaining to some of the most advanced and progressive next generation real estate projects under development.
Ilan Zachar is currently Chief Technology Officer at Carr Properties, a privately held REIT known for its portfolio of trophy-quality properties in the Washington D.C. In this role, Ilan leverages vision and foresight to cross-pollinate best practices, processes, systems and resources across corporate operations/affiliates. Under his leadership, this has resulted in improvements in bottom-line costs, top-line business growth/scalability, operational sustainability and high performance and overall, strengthening his company’s role as a market leader. For over 20 years, Ilan has been executive business leader and innovative technology strategist for multinational real-estate and property development companies worldwide.
Sineesh Keshav is the Chief Technology Officer at Prologis. In this role, he oversees all aspects of the technology strategy and is responsible for leading the company’s global data and digital transformation. Since joining Prologis in 2018, Sineesh and his team have been focused on a capability driven, customer-centric approach to innovation and digitalization.
With over 24 years of experience in real estate, Kevin's expertise encompasses enterprise IT design, integration and ecological adaptation, helping his clients deriving ongoing value by improving their manageability, effectiveness and ongoing efficiencies. Prior to joining RealFoundations, Kevin served as a CIO for a large-NY owner operator and as a SVP of IT for an Ohio based REIT overseeing the strategic planning, enterprise architecture and information architectures.
Mike Salazar has extensive experience in consulting and sales with Enterprise companies, regarding strategic cross function technology, mainly focused on IoT and AI platforms. Named Star on the Rise by Security Industry Association in 2016, he is currently the Practice Director for Smart Buildings at HID Global. Through innovative solutions he helps organizations unlock value and realize business intelligence. Honored to call many of the most notable companies of our time happy customers.
Dharmendra is the Industry Principal at Yardi Systems. Dhar’s well-rounded and practical background in the industry includes experience as a software vendor, consultant and customer. Prior to Yardi Systems, he was the Vice President of Revenue Management and Analytics for Denver-based Apartment Investment and Management Co. (AIMCO), one of the largest multifamily REITs in the U.S., where he led the development and implementation of revenue management and business intelligence systems.
Malcolm Hobbs is VP of Marketing and Market Development at Join. Malcolm has extensive startup and enterprise marketing and business development experience in markets including SaaS, Industrial IoT, Analytics and Sustainability. At Join, he is helping to redefine how owners secure their buildings from digital threats and deliver advanced digital workplace services in today's tech-forward buildings.