In a time where technology is evolving so rapidly, many organizations are still struggling to provide their team with basic technologies – such as ubiquitous high-speed Wi-Fi, portable computers, videoconferencing, collaboration tools, security solutions, cloud-based access to files, intranets, and more. But technology isn’t waiting for them to catch up. It’s charging forward.
Leading that charge is the emergence of the internet of things (IoT), a network of devices, embedded with sensors and actuators, which enable the collection and exchange of data. IoT is machines talking to machines. This creates direct integration of the physical world to improve efficiency and create smart buildings. Experts estimate that today there are approximately seven sensors for every person and that by 2020 the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects, exponentially increasing the potential.
A smart work environment uses sensors to collect information about the physical environment and the users in it, and in turn leverages that data to achieve a strategic advance. Beacons, sensors and cameras can all communicate with building systems and employees’ phones. By leverage this data and making it accessible via technology in workplace, we can enhance the user experience for all.
Workspaces can also leverage this information to assess the patterns and preferences of the workforce as well. Ambient computing is an ecosystems of network technology responding in real time to what’s actually happening in the business environment, rather than relying on static workflows and monitors. These systems are lying the foundation for the creation of an autonomous workplace. Smart tech can help create a truly intelligent, autonomous workplace designed to support users. From tracking utilization, noting preferences and identifying patterns, sensors can provide valuable intelligence that can boost productivity and aid in improving the user experience within a space. They support space that encourage freedom of movement, are designed to operate without direct human control and enable users to select the right space or experience to meet their needs. Leveraging sensors and the IoTs to create smart workplace can include building systems that address:
We are living in a time where we have access to lots of fast data. There is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’. Fast data is often thin, or worse irrelevant, and can lead to false conclusions.
Utilizing the traditional method of capturing information via time utilization studies, on-site observations and stakeholder interviews can take time and yield limited comparative data. Although using sensors and the IoT can generate “big data” faster, it often lacks the multiple dimensionality and more subtle aspects of the more traditional methods. According to Tricia Wang, what’s missing from big data is human insight. Data collected from a singular point is thin at best and can be misleading. Thick data on the other hand is the compilation of data taken from multiple viewpoints, queried by human understanding with logic applied and addresses the question, “why?” For example, data taken from an occupancy sensor might indicate that a room is occupied and therefore unavailable, leading to the notion that more space is needed. But if it is a 10-person conference room being repurposed by one individual who just wants some privacy, that data alone would lead you to a false conclusion, and a lot of wasted space. Or if there is a work point in the space that no one is utilizing, again the data might conclude that it isn’t a desirable setting and should be eliminated. But upon investigation it might be ascertained that the power outlet was broken, or it was just located in a noisy, hot spot and therefore less desirable then other options. Relocating it and fixing the power would address the problems and save what could otherwise be a popular setting option. Hence understanding how best to collect data and how it applies it essential.