infoTECH Feature

March 02, 2017

It's Up to IT to Usher in the Smart Office

We’ve all heard of the smart home. In fact, most people already have one or two smart technologies installed in their home. Some have fully invested in advanced gadgets and tools to further automate simple processes. But are you familiar with the smart office? It’s the next frontier for smart technologies and it’s up to IT departments everywhere to make it a bigger priority.

The Why Behind the Smart Office

In order to be competitive in today’s global marketplace, businesses are required to have critical infrastructures in place that allow them to efficiently manage and use data. There isn’t a successful company around – at least on a large scale – that doesn’t have an investment in IT – however, the same can’t be said for smart building systems and technologies.

While it’s certainly not a requirement for businesses to invest in smart offices, the benefits of doing so are enticing.  For starters, smart technologies can slash costs. Tasks that once required all hands on deck can be totally automated or streamlined with a simple software program or device.

Then there’s the convenience factor. Smart technology can ease many of the bothersome friction points that employees encounter on a daily basis. This results in smoother experiences that produce better places to work.

When costs are cut and processes are improved, these benefits get passed along to the consumer. This produces happier customers who are more likely to continue doing business with the brand in the future.

In other words, the smart office is about more than just showing off the latest technologies, so to speak. There’s tangible value in a transition to smart technology and there’s no point in delaying progression.

A Look at Leading Technology

The term “smart technology” is broad and all-encompassing. When it comes to the business world, it can help to have a better understanding of what we’re talking about.

Here’s a look at some of the cutting edge technologies currently being utilized by leading businesses around the world.

Geo Services

One of the most promising developments in the area of smart office technology has to do with geo services. “Geo services” refers to technology that uses GPS and other location-based tools to accomplish certain tasks when you enter or leave a defined radius.

One of the more exciting applications, particularly for small businesses, is the opportunity to receive notifications and reminders via phone. When coordinated with the right security system, geo services can create a perimeter around the office or store and send a notification to the business owner when they leave that perimeter and the security system isn’t armed. With a simple swipe of a button, the system can be set and potential disaster can be avoided.

Instant Switches

In the office, few things waste more energy than idle devices that are only used on an occasional basis. Take a printer, for example. If it’s only used once or twice a week, there’s no point in leaving it on 24/7/365. It makes sense to only turn it on when it needs to be used. With instant switches, this becomes pretty simple.

This WeMo instant switch is a great example. It allows you to turn on appliances and electronic devices from anywhere to save energy and maximize efficiency. Plus, it works with Amazon’s Alexa – which means you can control devices by voice if you have an Echo. This may not seem like a big deal, but when there are dozens of computers and devices in a single office, the energy savings can be tremendous.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats have long been used in homes, but there’s no reason for businesses to overlook the value they bring to the workplace. In a large office, a properly optimized smart thermostat can save tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The key here is to purchase the right smart thermostat system. The marketplace has been inundated with low-quality options over the past few years, so the selection process is important. Features and other things to consider include remote access, integration with existing technology, and possible monthly fees.

Wearable Devices

Most businesses don’t fully understand the costs associated with workplace injuries. Whether it’s a catastrophic injury in a manufacturing plant or chronic pain related to ergonomic issues in the office, few things have more of a detrimental impact on a company’s bottom line than injuries and illnesses.

That’s why a lot of companies are investing in smart technology and wearable devices that prevent injuries or detect risk in advance. An example includes smart sensors on work belts that give employees feedback and let them know if they’re lifting in a safe manner.

“By preventing employee accidents and injuries, employers will not be forced to spend additional time finding and training a replacement employee, a process which frequently costs more than the salary paid to the original worker,” explains Brian Mittman, an expert in the field of workplace injuries and disability. “It will also reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims made, thereby reducing insurance premiums.”

The Role of the IT Department

The CEOs, presidents, and board members will always have a role in how and when technology is adopted, but it’s ultimately the role of the IT department to usher in the era of the smart office. As you work with your employer and/or clients, it may be necessary to explain and discuss the value of these technologies in the context of business.

Business leaders want to know that there’s tangible “bottom line” value anytime they invest in an IT related expense. If they have no background in IT, then you have to focus less on the features and more on the value that these features provide.

At the end of the day, an investment in the smart office makes life easier. Upper level management saves money, the IT department saves time, and all of these little benefits are passed along to the customer.

Edited by Alicia Young

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