Connectivity in commercial office space has been nearly ubiquitious for 30 years. So, exactly how connected does a building have to be “smart”?
For most white collar workers in the developed world that got their first “real job” anytime after 1990 (and possibly before), our first day went something like this: show up, be escorted on a tour of the building, be shown our desk, receive our telephone extension, and set up our network login. Simple as that, 4-digit dialing and internet access taken care of all before our first coffee break. So, if connectivity is has been more or less commonplace for three decades, then why so much focus on in-building connectivity now?
The simple answer is that as the IoT era dawns, and gives rise to the “fourth industrial revolution” ubiquitous in-building connectivity will become a “utility” much in the same way that electricity, water, and phone service are viewed today.
All connectivity is not created equal
Here is a quick three question quiz to access how connected might be “connected enough” in your commercial office building.
- Does your wire closet or IT closet look like tangled mass of yellow, blue, green, grey and black cables?
- Do your employees become frustrated at not being able to use their mobile device anywhere in the office?
- Do your employees dress for winter when sitting at their desk in the middle of summer?
If you answered, “Yes” to any of these three questions, then it is quite possible that your building is not connected enough to meet the demands of today’s workplace. Here’s why:
- At this site’s launch event, Ron Scott, Chief Commercial Officer at ExteNet commented that “30-40% of copper in the rizers of most buildings are abandoned plant, and 97% of buildings are technologically obsolete.” Much of this abandonment has come at the hands of years of third parties having largely unmonitored access to the IT closets of buildings to install one-off solutions. Without coordination among service providers, many of these closets have become tangled webs of stranded plant and sub-optimal networking configurations. To this end, even where a building does have copper, or even fiber, running up the riser, much of it is inadequate to fulfill the needs of a coordinated, ubiquitous in-building communications infrastructure.
- In the smartphone era, the days of employees walking around their office to seek out a robust data connection are over. In today’s workplace, many employees prefer to bring their own device to work, and to use that device to transact business. As such, many commercial building leasing managers are reporting that when showing office space to a prospective tenant, the tenant’s IT manager comes along to walk the floorplan to look for “dead zones” or other connectivity characteristics that will impinge on the wireless connectivity experience of employees while at work. To this end, if your building has these so-called “dead zones” within its floor plan, it will hurt the competitiveness of your space as a leasing option.
- Many people that have worked in an office have seen employees sitting at their desks wearing sweaters and other winter clothing during warm seasons to cope with the impact of improperly tuned HVAC systems. If this occurs in your building, then the simple fact is that your building is costing tenants money in wasted electricity costs, and employee productivity due to being forced to work under sub-optimal conditions. Here is where intelligent building automation solutions – powered by comprehensive in-building connectivity – can help to tune a building’s HVAC, lighting, and security systems to the its unique usage patterns for any given time of day, or time of year. Conversely, just as with the point above, failure to properly equip a building with increasingly smart system controls will make a space less competitive over time. In turn, this could drive down rents and buildign NOI.
Although large segments of building owners might not see it as their responsibility to provide access fully modern communications infrastructure, many are realizing this need, and are taking the steps necessary to provide comprehensive connectivity. Over time, as the more digital native workers enter the workforce, and more companies make their living by providing solutions within the digital economy, comphrehensive connectivity will take on the status as another utility. As this mindset continues to take root, building owners that do not provide this utility will likely see their buildings at a material competitive disadvantage compared to buildings that do offer comprehensive connectivity.
For further reading on the subject please see:
- Feature Report: Can DAS, CBRS, Licensed Cellular and Proprietary LP-WAN Solve In-Building Connectivity?
- In-building connectivity 101: DAS, CBRS and LP-WAN
- Trend Watch: What to look for in DAS, CBRS and LP-WAN development
- Industry 4.0 and the virtuous circle of IoT and in-building tech
- ROI vs NOI: Why should CRE invest in building automation?