Growing interest in the idea of smart buildings has encouraged more organisations to plan their corporate office space with technology in mind, which means CIOs need to get much more involved, the company advises.

Until now, office planning and management has been predominantly the domain of real estate teams. Abintra points out those teams may not be best placed to evaluate technologies, a crucial challenge as the myriad of products coming onto the market include many with shortcomings.

Abintra director Tony Booty says CIOs should be guiding management towards selecting effective technology and specialist expertise to interpret data and put forward solutions: “Doing so will allow businesses to future-proof their systems for smart buildings and IoT,” he says.

CIOs can make the business case for investment in building technology to senior colleagues in two important ways, says Abintra, which has offices in London, UK, and Boston, USA.

  • Stressing the immediate benefit from built-in space management networks, which provide accurate data for monitoring and managing office space
  • Highlighting efficiency savings by integrating with building automation solutions and smart building initiatives.

Booty adds: “CIOs in large businesses are increasingly expected to play a role in real estate decisions because ICT is increasingly connected to real estate questions such as what assets do we have and how do we use them.”

He points out real estate strategies are devolving from being HQ-based to hub-based, as management realises it needs to respond differently to how office spaces in different locations are used. With IoT and smart building technology developing fast, the business could really benefit by ensuring their organisations are ready in every location.

He warns corporations that don’t think about the big picture will either have to scrap their “new existing” technology and reinvest or lose out to competitors on the advantages in HR and facilities management: “For most office-based businesses, real estate is their second biggest overhead after their people, so naturally they are looking at space utilisation. Rather than looking only at monitoring usage, CIOs could be thinking about going one better.

“It is about using components that have to be there and leveraging them,” says Booty, who sees a future where ultimately all office assets each have their own IP address and can identify themselves from BIM (Business Information Modelling) and FM (Facilities Management) systems that will be increasingly powerful as buildings become ever smarter.

The benefits will be felt in energy savings, environmental efficiencies and productivity, as building become ever more comfortable to work in. Equipped with data on temperature and humidity, systems will intelligently manage air conditioning based on occupancy of particular areas of the building at any particular time and enable lighting choices for individual desks as they are used as well as ambient lighting around them.

Booty concludes: “Understanding how space is used and being able to monitor and respond to that in real-time creates a better working environment, not just in the traditional desk space, but by freeing up space to create new areas for flexible working. That creates a competitive advantage when it comes to recruitment and retention, and since people are an even larger overhead than real estate, it is an opportunity that CIOs and the entire C suite should be seizing.”