To the surprise of absolutely no one, we have become a mobile-centric society. We used to think that mobile apps were best suited for small, quick tasks, and desktops and laptops were the devices of choice for deeper and more serious work. Today, most believe the opposite is true. They expect to be able to use everything on mobile that’s available on a computer. And that demand is what’s driving the SaaS (software as a service) revolution in the enterprise.
In the past ten years, business apps that we used to buy on disks successfully made the shift to the SaaS model, and other web-based business services appeared to revolutionize the way work happens. But one office product, IWMS (integrated workplace management systems), remained firmly on-premises. Functions within IWMS, like space and facility management, real estate portfolio management, maintenance, capital project management and visitor management were seen as on-premise services, so there was no need for a SaaS solution.
In other words, what ran the office stayed in the office by design. But it looks like that’s all changing. IWMS is moving to the cloud—and the possibilities are endless.
Cloud-based IWMS—a new category of office automation
In its original form, IWMS plays a crucial role in facility management. It gives facility managers better visibility into occupancy and headcount. It ensures they’re getting the most from the space they have. Since everyone in a company uses facility information, having everything they need in an easily-searchable system increases productivity and is a better experience overall. Facilities managers depend on the data to help make decisions within the company’s real estate portfolio, do lease analysis, and manage financial planning. But as IWMS moves toward the cloud, there is an opportunity for IWMS to become so much more.
In addition to all of the tasks traditional IWMS manage, cloud-based platforms will evolve into a platform for managing and automating a plethora of other office systems. While traditional IWMS are closed systems, the cloud (and an open API) enables unlimited integration potential so that you can interconnect with ther best of breed services for your office’s needs.
Solve workplace issues on the fly
How much better and more productive would you be if you could spend your hours at work actually working? Do you know how much time you spend doing things like trying to find a meeting room, chasing down a package delivery, or trying to troubleshoot computer issues? A survey on workplace habits revealed the answers. For example, the average worker reported spending up to 30 minutes a day solving technical problems. That’s two hours every week, or 100 hours a year.
Another pet peeve the survey revealed: we spend between 9-20 hours a week in meetings, and we’re frustrated when we can’t get the right room for a meeting. And then there’s the dreaded conference room that everyone avoids at all costs—it’s either freezing all the time, the conferencing equipment is unreliable, or it’s not quite as soundproof as you’d hoped.
While these annoyances are small, they add up over time. And that’s where SaaS-based IWMS comes in. Integrating other cloud services into the IWMS lets employees find out whether conference rooms are still occupied before they leave their desks. And that’s not all:
- Integrated sensors feed data into the IWMS to measure room temperature, equipment condition, lighting, energy consumption, sound levels, and even occupancy trends.
- For facility managers, these documented issues lend credence to the complaints, and they’ll be able to detect and fix problems more quickly.
- Occupancy records provide solid proof when people remain in the room beyond their allotted time
- Constant, real-time data, coupled with instant input from employees who can access the system from their mobile devices, enables the facility management team to make changes that adjust each room for the way it’s being used. They might choose to make popular rooms available for shorter meetings only or reclaim the space from least-favored rooms to repurpose for other things.
Visitor management helps you track guests and increase workplace security
The addition of a cloud-based visitor management system to the IWMS lets you streamline the check-in process. When visitors arrive, they sign in on an iPad, triggering a whole series of automations:
- The visitor’s name is checked against multiple federal, local, and international lists of known people who should not be admitted, as well as customized blocklists, to help ensure workplace security
- The visitor reads and signs all required documents for entry, including NDAs, hold harmless contracts, and plays any safety videos a company requires
- The iPad camera takes a picture of the visitor and prints it on a badge, along with the visitor’s name and host
- The visitor management system communicates with the company’s wi-fi to partition temporary access for the visitor, with a password that will expire when they leave the premises
- The system notifies the host of the visitor’s arrival and activates the pre-selected meeting room
- The visitor receives a text with the wi-fi password, and they’re signed in and ready to go by the time the host greets them in the lobby
Another critical use case for IWMS is package delivery. According to the Envoy survey, 69% of all workers surveyed have personal packages delivered to work. It’s a safe place for online purchases to be sent—after all, package theft from doorsteps is at an all-time high. But without a package delivery system that checks packages and notifies employees about arrival, providing this service can be prohibitively expensive. As we move to a more responsive and intuitive workplace, automating package delivery notification will become the norm. In 2019, employees received between 7 and 25 packages a day, so speeding up processing and delivery will be an eventual necessity.
The workplace of the future is here today
As Gen Z enters the workplace, they expect to be in offices that feature integrated, personalized experiences and advanced technology that will help them focus on their work and not on the mechanics of office busywork. They expect that:
- Workplace security will reside on their phones. A sensor or QR code will detect their presence, and biometric entry systems will scan their thumbprint or retinas to let them into the areas they’re allowed to be in.
- They’ll be able to enter and exit at will, and during any hours that suit them.
- AI systems will learn their preferences and set the temperature, lighting, and music to the way they like it.
- They’ll have smart workspaces in areas that fit their style—chatty and collaborative zones, quiet spots for concentration, or spaces to spread out and get creative.
- They will work equally on laptops and mobile devices, and switch back and forth at will.
The technology to do all of what these scenarios detail exists today. What’s more, incoming employees will see the features integrated, cloud-based IWMS platforms can offer as a differentiator when choosing where they’d like to work.
But it’s not just the employees who benefit from the promise of this new breed of IWMS. A Research and Markets study on IWMS, showed that companies will see significant cost savings and better space utilization. They found that the average enterprise will see:
- Energy consumption improved by 10%
- Facility usage efficiency increased by 42%
- Facility maintenance costs lowered by 14%
- Workspace management improved by up to 40%
As we move into the (very near) future, some trends are emerging that place SaaS-based IWMS solutions as the clear leader of the workplace transformation movement:
- By 2023, over 75% of IWMS implementations will be web-based
- By the end of 2020, companies that support a choose-your-own-work-style culture will see increased employee retention rates of more than 10%.
- By the end 2020, a quarter of companies will be able to provide employees with a comprehensive catalog of smart workspaces maintained by IT, real estate and facilities management, so they will know which spaces are available at any moment, and the technology each offers
All of the technology that makes these changes possible originate from an integrated IWMS platform. Managing every aspect of the workplace—from real estate and space planning through workplace security, visitor management, conference room management, personalization, package delivery, and more—is moving to the cloud in a big way. With all of that available just a few taps away on your smart devices, you really will have the whole world in your hands.
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