Mark Furness from essensys tells us how connecting up your workplace can lead to a smarter life for all
We no longer live or work in isolation. Not only are we more connected, but so too are our machines, environments and systems. Enhanced sensors and software are at the heart of a new wave of technology that has the ability to reimagine our lives. Our working ones in particular stand to benefit with the rise of smart, efficient spaces and buildings.
Gartner tells us that by 2020, 25 billion ‘things’ will be connected. To date, the conversation has been dominated by talk of how these devices will transform consumers’ lives. But commercial buildings that take steps to become smarter stand to make their companies operate better and realise considerable cost savings. Whether that’s in terms of improving operations, security, sustainability, optimising assets or enhancing well-being, there are fascinating possibilities.
Automation and smart building technology provides an unprecedented opportunity for facilities and office managers to gain oversight and control. Take, for example, building access and security. You’re probably used to using a key, a fob or a card to gain entrance to your place of work. But what if a mobile app or even biometrics could replace them and keep track of who was in the building?
Then there are the environmental benefits of smart buildings. Lighting, heating and cooling empty rooms wastes a huge amount of energy and costs businesses a significant amount of money. According to the Carbon Trust, lighting costs alone can equal as much as 40% of a business’ overall electricity consumption. A smart workplace can take advantage of natural daylight, automatically turn off lights or tune the air conditioning when rooms are empty or less busy. As a result, energy wastage can be dramatically reduced.
Joining the dots
It’s possible to avoid chaos by tying everything together in a way that properly coordinates the hardware and software – provided a platform sits at the heart. In simple terms, an intelligent, scalable and simple-to-use middleware system is required to pull all devices and services together to give the IoT environment a ‘central nervous system’.
We have seen a few examples of vendor-specific middleware already. For example, some vendors are focusing on enabling smart lighting middleware solutions, often as a way of connecting their own products. But history has told us that to enable true innovation, for a trend to take off, to transform industries and create new ones, an agnostic platform must be the central part of the story.
A tidal wave of intelligent things and next-generation digital services is approaching. Businesses can capitalise by making sure they’re fully equipped to make smarter, and more rewarding choices for their workplaces.
Mark Furness is CEO and founder, essensys
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