By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
SpaceIQ

There’s no substitute for data-backed decision-making. Big Data has become almost mythic in the realm of facilities management. Harness data and you’ll obtain insights to capitalize on the strategic elements of your workplace. But before unlocking the many secrets of Big Data for smart facility management, you need ways to identify, collect, and analyze it.

Big Data is cultivated and harvested from strategic technologies dedicated to measuring specific variables. The more variables you track and measure, the more of your workplace you can quantify. The more you quantify, the more you control. This is the power of Big Data.

The go-to collection mechanism is the workplace Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT takes physical variables and turns them into digital insights. A broad IoT network highlights the key elements of your workplace and beyond. Once you understand the minutiae of how your workplace runs, it’s time to unlock the power of Big Data for smarter facilities management.

What is “smart” facilities management?

Smart building facility management is the way of the future. It involves building out a workplace IoT network, collecting pertinent data, and aggregating that data into identifiable trends. Those trends and patterns then drive positive change in the workplace.

Smart facilities management can range from simple to complex, depending on the focus. For example, motion sensors attached to lights to conserve electricity is different than using occupancy sensors to determine what time of day people use specific workspaces and for how long. In either case, facilities managers have the tools and insights to shape the workplace around the needs of employees and company expectations.

Building a smarter building

The importance of the IoT in smart facilities management is undeniable. In recent years, IoT in facility management has become the norm. Thankfully, it’s also become much simpler to integrate. Building out an IoT means building out a smarter building—the foundation of smarter facilities management. Here’s how:

  • Sensors. Sensors are point-of data collection devices. They measure a quantifiable action. Someone walks past a motion sensor and triggers it. The A/C kicks on from a smart thermostat reading. That action becomes a data point, studied by facility managers to affect change. The more sensors measuring different variables, the more insight and understanding facility managers have in how the workplace functions and what it needs.
  • Beacons. Beacons are the nodes of the IoT. In a workplace with dozens of deployed sensors, beacons tie them all together and relay the continuous data they’re transmitting. Beacons are organizational tools, meant to bring order to the IoT.
  • Applications. Turning sensor blips into meaningful data is the product of an application. More than making data readable, programs leverage the power of computation to provide automatic insights. Data fed into programs gets processed more thoroughly than any one person might be capable of, yielding insights at a granular level.
  • Automation. Automation is an inevitable part of working with the IoT and a boon for facility managers. Automation applies to both data and processes—handling aggregated data and what processes should respond. If an occupancy sensor is active, it will show a conference room as occupied. If a desk assignment is updated, information is pushed to update wayfinding software. The connections of the IoT make automation beneficial and essential.

Quantifying workplace operations and digitizing the delivery system builds the foundation for accessing Big Data. The infrastructure may be physical (sensors, beacons), but the insights and action plans are digitally rooted (applications, automations).

Using insights to affect change

Every data point about the workplace is important—even when they may seem unimportant. Having the luxury of ruling out meaningless data points means you have insights about different aspects of work. Focus on the trends and patterns, qualify the outliers, and use data to create supported theories about how to shape the workplace.

If the sensors at your hot desks show constant occupancy, but your conference rooms are rarely used, it’s a sign of how employees use your space. If your smart thermostat triggers the A/C in frequent intervals, it’s a sign you need repairs and updates to the HVAC system. There are infinite examples like these, each with valuable insight about a particular aspect of the workplace. Putting Big Data to work to understand them is the first step in changing and improving your workplace. From there, it’s about measuring the benefits—costs, culture, productivity, and anything else you’re focused on understanding or improving.

Measuring the power of intelligent insights

There’s no match for technology in facilities management and the power of IoT-collected workplace data—or the insights it provides. Quantifying specific variables and turn them into meaningful improvements means tapping into the core framework of what your workplace is. By leveraging intelligent insights, facilities managers can fundamentally change the impact the workplace has on the people using it.

Interested in turning your workplace into an epicenter for IoT-powered insights? Get the SpaceIQ guide to smart sensors and beacons.