Everywhere you turn, people are talking about “smart building” technology these days. HVAC automation, security and surveillance, lighting controls – the opportunity to manage and monitor buildings through smart devices and mobile apps anytime, anywhere seems almost endless. Today, building owners like you tend to look at smart technology as a way to increase their bottom line through improved building efficiencies and energy savings. This is unquestionably a huge benefit, but what most building owners don’t realize is just how much more bottom-line revenue is possible with the right smart technology investments.
Smart technology isn’t just about putting in a programmable thermostat to cut your energy costs. It’s about understanding the needs and wants of current and potential tenants, and making the right technology investments to meet those requests. In today’s increasingly tech-savvy world, your tenants expect reliable internet connectivity, so they can use their mobile devices to their full capacity and take full advantage of the latest smart technologies ensuring convenience, security and comfort. Failing to meet this expectation can result in high tenant turnover, lower referral rates and significant revenue loss. Providing reliable connectivity solidifies tenant loyalty — and gives you a competitive edge against other buildings.
For the building owner, a smart building is one that you can manage with a single internet-based system. Everything is integrated — HVAC, lighting, security, emergency alerts and more — which greatly simplifies building management and operations.
For the tenant, a smart building is a place where they can communicate seamlessly through every channel and device. As tenants walk from the lobby to the elevator to the rooftop garden, they don’t have to worry about dropping a call or losing their internet connection. It’s also a place where they receive the building-related communications that matter to them — such as messages about maintenance issues on their floor, emergency alerts, or coupons for the coffee shop downstairs. The relevance of these communications helps tenants feel that the owners of their building truly care about them and want to make their day a little easier.
The element that is most overlooked — but most critical in making a building truly smart — is robust, building-wide connectivity. The connection can be cellular and / or Wi-Fi. Either way, everyone who enters the building can access the internet in the fastest, easiest and most reliable way possible — and not just in the common areas, but in every office, basement, hallway, mechanical room and storage space, no matter how remote. Building-wide connectivity is smart, safe and vital to tenant satisfaction. It’s also completely within reach for your building.
How to make your building truly smart
Implementing a building-wide internet connection might seem daunting, but the process itself is really pretty simple. It comes down to five basic steps:
1. Develop your blueprint It’s important to start your smart building project with a clear sense of your goals. Decide what kind of building you want to be and what kind of tenants you want to attract. You might want to research the internet connectivity available in nearby properties — just as your prospective tenants will — to help inform your decisions.
2. See where you stand Don’t make assumptions about the day-to-day cell service inside your building. Survey your tenants to understand their perceptions of your building’s technology capabilities and to uncover any connectivity issues. Also, survey your employees who work in the building to learn about any connectivity problems limiting their productivity. Then use these survey results to develop a current state assessment focused on connectivity. A technology expert can help you evaluate your existing infrastructure and the changes you’d need to make in order to meet your goals for the building.
3. Build your foundation The foundation for your building-wide internet connection is a fiber infrastructure. That’s the backbone of your smart building. It sounds expensive, but it doesn’t have to break your budget. Today’s fiber infrastructures are affordable, flexible, scalable and absolutely vital for supporting your tenants’ growing communication needs. As the building owner, you’ll stay in control of the infrastructure, even if you choose a provider who can optimize it for you. Just be sure to work with someone who gets to know you, understands your blueprint, and helps your team learn how to use and build on it. And if your building already has a fiber infrastructure, you’ll just need a vendor to update it and clear out old cables or outdated equipment. Modern fiber infrastructures don’t take up much physical space, so you can maximize your rentable square footage.
4. Form your team To stay in control of your fiber infrastructure, you’ll need to manage it in-house as you integrate new smart technologies. Make sure your staff has the expertise to do that. Keep them informed by organizing initial and ongoing training sessions and inviting your infrastructure provider to host lunch-and-learns. The right provider will feel like part of your team, working to understand your goals and helping you achieve them in the most efficient way possible. Your tenants should also feel like part of your team. After all, smart technology is about communication and connectivity. Consider creating a tech board and inviting tenants who use smart technologies at home to join and help plan the building’s technology. They’ll appreciate being included in the process, and you’ll gain a better understanding of what your tenants really want in terms of smart technology.
5. Keep monitoring Conduct surveys on a regular basis to keep tabs on how well your technology is serving your tenants and employees. If you get any complaints about connectivity, work with your infrastructure provider to resolve the issues promptly. Also, ask your provider to help you leverage location-based services to further improve your tenants’ experience in your building. And be sure to tell prospective tenants you’re continually monitoring your building-wide connectivity to ensure the greatest reliability. This will set you apart from your competition.
Making your building smart is a real business advantage. First and foremost, you’ll improve tenant loyalty, which you can measure in terms of lease renewals, referrals and reviews. You’ll also improve employee satisfaction, leading to lower turnover. And sure — you’ll also reduce your energy costs. But the true value of a smart building is about much more than the bottom line.