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Adam Stoltz Adam Stoltz, national managing director of consulting services for Transwestern

It has been estimated that more data has been generated in the last two years than in the entire span of human history. In fact, recently The Economist suggested the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. At a time when the volume of information being generated far outpaces our ability to do something with it, there is one largely untapped supply of data that can provide a rich source of actionable information: the office building. Information gathered here can help landlords and occupiers together make better informed, more confident real estate and workplace decisions.

Data and Trust: Improve the Commercial Office Building Experience

Pursuit of the opportunities presented by this new partnership requires a two-way street of trust and commitment: tenants and employees willing to participate, with building owners and managers willing to invest in systems to collect and share information received. There are several areas where building information can deliver benefits to all parties (owners, tenants, and visitors) involved, including:

  • A better understanding of space utilization patterns over time help inform a more flexible and proactive building occupancy strategy, and reduced building vacancy
  • Improved visitor experiences through a combined approach of location-based awareness plus arrival and departure frequency
  • More bespoke tenant engagement and food service programs based on a richer insight into employee patterns and preferences through a building app
  • A combination of building systems sensors and pulse engagement methods to drive upgraded comfort and environmental responsiveness to occupant needs within the building
  • Greater efficiency and operational cost savings for tenants based on building systems responding to changes in presence within and between occupied floors
  • Targeted building design interventions and furniture provisions through more precise knowledge of acoustic performance and occupant impact in building common lounges and work areas
  • Superior emergency responsiveness, coordination, communication, awareness through in-building location sharing

Privacy for Value

Without question, there are basic security requirements to be considered. However, the most significant barriers today are not technical – they’re personal. In our daily lives, we regularly trade privacy for value. We choose to engage with brands, products, and services in exchange for some value received from that interaction. And knowingly, or blissfully unknowingly for some of us, we make these choices having traded a modicum of privacy regarding our behaviors, patterns, or preferences, for a degree of value received. It’s called the “Privacy for Value” equation. Already today you may have: asked Alexa for the weather to adjust your wardrobe accordingly; used your phone to remotely start your car; checked to see the precise location of the subway or bus for your commute to the office; or ordered coffee for pickup from your favorite coffee shop. Each of these actions has a built-in risk and reward decision balancing privacy and value.

Rise of the Building Intelligence Officer

When it comes to their occupancy and use of real estate, tenants don’t just want data; they want actionable intelligence. Enter the rise of the BIO–the Building Intelligence Officer. Someone with vision, technical skills, and operational capabilities, they help make smarter, better-informed decisions through insights grounded in quantifiable data, to drive measurable benefit. In service to the organization, this individual synthesizes myriad sources of building system information (people, operational, technical, financial) to explore relationships and targeted opportunities to help the tenant organizations and their people improve and succeed. As buildings allow us to gather and utilize more information, the role of the BIO will become as critical as any building management professional. 

With a nearly limitless amount of information and opportunity ahead of us to inform critical business decisions, I’d take all the help I could get. Wouldn’t you?

Adam Stoltz is the national managing director of consulting services for Transwestern, based in New York City. He uses data to help owners, occupiers, and investors make better real estate decisions on how space is provided, occupied and managed. The views expressed here are the author’s own and not those of ALM’s Real Estate Media Group.

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