How the IoT Will Change Facilities Management

Facilities management has become more predictive in recent years, with many businesses adopting smarter systems tracking how employees use space. But as more types of intelligent technology enter the workplace, the necessity to connect these systems increases.

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Enter the Internet of Things (IoT). This network allows physical devices to work together to collect and share data, which has the very real capacity to drastically improve office efficiency. With this level of connectivity fast becoming the universal standard, it is imperative that facility managers adapt their processes to ensure their office is IoT compatible.

What is the Internet of Things?

To put it simply, the IoT refers to devices that are connected to the internet, both at home and at the office. This network encompasses those devices that use the internet to communicate with each other to access and send information. A common example of the IoT in action is a smartwatch that tracks the distance you run and links to email, but today’s applications are much more wide reaching—particularly in respect to the modern workplace.

According to Gartner, 65% of all professional organizations will be using IoT products by 2020, with Intel predicting that the number of IoT objects will grow from 2 billion (2006) to 200 billion by the same time. These IoT connected products include printers, HVAC systems, security systems and more, and each bears the potential to fundamentally change the way the world does business.

How will the IoT affect workplaces?

As more offices and enterprises implement IoT technologies, it’s important for all FMs to understand the possibilities of this increasingly connected world. The data generated by IoT enabled sensors is capable of boosting performance by increasing efficiency and reducing costs. For example, using sensors to understand how your office space is being used will reveal whether or not hot desking is a good choice for your company. Additionally, IoT technologies will ensure that when maintenance is needed on devices or machines, FMs are notified before a breakdown occurs. Boeing is using this predictive maintenance and found that the practice saves them 13% annually on their operational budgets.

In other cases, the IoT has the ability to relieve FMs of tedious tasks, such as restocking consumables. Kimberly-Clark Professional announced a smart washroom system that uses M2M connectivity to signal when dispensers need refilling, Amazon DRS integrated printers will automatically order new ink cartridges when they’re running low on toner, and a range of new smart fridges will restock themselves when office snack stocks are depleted. Furthermore, heating and cooling systems can be monitored through the IoT, ensuring office temperatures are always regulated accurately.

The IoT even has the ability to reduce work related illness and injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in America’s private industry in 2016, with 892,270 of these resulting in days spent away from work. Through sensors and the IoT, FMs can protect employees by more efficiently monitoring employee safety and ensuring alarms are raised more quickly in dangerous situations.

These applications do not merely offer the ability to save time, but money as well. According to McKinsey, monitoring energy usage could result in savings of 20%, and IoT security applications have the potential to reduce labor costs by 20%-50%. So, with these benefits in mind, how can FMs ready their ships for this interconnected future?

How can facility managers adapt to an IoT connected world?

The workplace domination of the IoT is an imminent reality, so it’s essential that all businesses connect to the network, and that all FMs are well-versed in the possibilities of this technology. That said, adoption of the IoT is not a matter of robotizing your entire office, but rather figuring out which metrics are important to your business and your bottom line.

If FMs are concerned about a space that isn't being put to it’s best use, tools like a resource tracker used in conjunction with sensors can help them evaluate how it could be used for a different purpose. And because of the volume of data these kinds of new applications will generate, it is crucial that FMs have office management software in place that can not only collect and store the wealth of information being sourced, but that can analyze the data and understand its implications for the business as a whole. These insights will be invaluable for informing FM policy.

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The IoT is having a rapid effect on the business world, and its vast range of applications are quickly transforming the tried-and-true office model. However, a “smart” building is only useful when coupled with an ability to integrate with as many other technologies as possible, and it must convert collected data into actionable change. As such, it is critical that FMs consult with their IT department to develop an IoT strategy. Planning as a team can help companies find management software that is comprehensively compatible. FMs have an obligation to implement software that will enable a deeper understanding of a building’s usage by both analyzing data and complementing existing software, as it is only through these insights that real innovation can occur.

Prepare for the future today by implementing IoT technology. Request a demo to see how OfficeSpace software can work with your Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Photo Credits: Shutterstock / g-stockstudio, Shutterstock / JKstock, Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images