Technology makes buildings cost more; that’s a fact. And the benefits are not always clear. However, we think there’s a case to invest now and reap the rewards of more efficient spaces and better scalability.
It’s fair to say that on the surface, smart technology doesn’t immediately provide a clear picture of how it is worth the initial expense.
Complex and contemporary terminology like ‘machine learning’, ‘unified building control’ and ‘converged infrastructure’ reinforces that notion of expense. To make things more problematic for decision makers, it isn’t immediately obvious how investing in costly technology may benefit the business and its staff as well as being flexible enough to grow with the business as requirements change.
This initial outlay can put people off
Obviously, a business of any size needs to be cautious.
Peoples’ livelihoods are at stake and there really isn’t any point investing in smart technology for the sake of it. Your internal comms person will be steaming from their ears if they have to explain to the business why the enormous, and expensive, LED wall is being returned to the contractor after a month, due to lack of use…
However, smart technology can save time, money, energy, staff turnover, and increase productivity and performance
So how can the initial investment help a business further down the line?
According to a study by World Green Building Council, a company’s total operational expenditure can be broken down into three areas. 1% goes on energy, a further 9% is spent maintaining physical assets but a massive 90% of spend is on people.
However, reducing people spend is challenging because the last thing a business wants is for its staff to leave if they feel they aren’t being looked after properly.
And this is where smart technology can help. Rather than reduce spend on people, it maximises their ability to perform at their best. It makes them more productive, increases efficiency of working practices, and ultimately creates an environment that makes people happier. This can also mean that employees stay longer, reducing costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training.
For example, if people working at your organisation spend ten minutes every day getting Skype to work in the building’s meeting rooms, or setting up the heating in the room so that everyone can work comfortably, that’s ten minutes per day of their salary wasted. In the long run, this cost will add up.
Smart technology makes interactions like this seamless. Skype will fluently integrate with the room’s pre-installed audio-visual hardware and sensors in the room can communicate with the meeting room booking system so that the temperature will be comfortable at the required time. Just in this one instance, working efficiency and comfort levels are significantly improved. This saves time and makes people happy.
Additionally, a well-designed smart building should also save money when it comes to scaling
But what happens if the business grows and there’s needs for new systems with extra functionality? Replacing technology is expensive and often software and hardware upgrade cycles are not aligned which can cause further problems.
Again, smart technology solves this issue.
In a traditional building model, each system functions independently and only connects to the minimum number of other systems required. This results in additional cabling, inefficiency due to a lack of integration between systems and a lack of stability as should one system fail, multiple others will too.
Moreover, scalability is extremely limited. When one system needs replacing, often anything reliant on that system will need taking out too. This is expensive (both in terms of materials and labour), time-consuming and inflexible.
However, we have developed a modular approach where systems can be swapped in and out with ease, known as Smart Core. This works because each system connects to a common Middleware layer, as opposed to being reliant on a connection to another system. Therefore, individual systems can be removed at will without affecting the functionality of anything else.
So, operating in this way means having only a single set of cabling (reducing material and labour costs), a more stable building infrastructure as there’s no inter-reliance of systems, and because of considerably increased integration many more smart features are also enabled.
In terms of scalability, this technology can grow alongside your business as the Middleware layer means new systems can be added or taken away with ease.
Smart technology is only as complex or as expensive as the business requires
As said before, this technology is expensive and there’s no point in having smart technology for the sake of it. But, because of its scalability, specialists like Vanti can work with you, your facilities team and your employees to determine exactly how smart technology can benefit your business.
So, if all you need is simple digital signage controlled via a bespoke CMS, we can do this. But, if you need specific analytical data regarding desk occupancy, oxygen/carbon dioxide levels or building temperature relayed live on a real-time dashboard to produce hourly, daily, monthly or even yearly reports, again this is a solution we can provide.
How complex the technology is in your building is entirely at your discretion. But the point is that this flexibility works to minimise that initial investment and so that no technology goes unused.
Maximise the potential of those using the building, reap long term benefits and experience efficient scaling
When looking at terminology associated with smart buildings in isolation, it’s easy to be confused. This confusion can make it difficult to see the full benefits of smart technology, as well as how it can benefit a business in the long run.
Put simply: a smart building maximises the potential of those using the space. Users are happier, which increases the likelihood of them staying, further reducing costs.
Smart technology is also significantly more scalable. An efficient middleware layer saves money by reducing labour and material costs and allows systems to be removed at will without affecting anything else on the network.
If you want to leverage technology better in your business, please get in touch!