Much of the current hype around smart buildings often focuses on the Internet of Things, and how the connectivity it enables between different devices, combined with powerful analytics, can lead to significant operational savings and improvement in occupant comfort. But there is less attention paid to how mobile technology opens up new possibilities to influence building occupants’ day-to-day experiences. Mobile apps now have a stake in every part of how we use buildings: from travel plans to get there, to controlling our local environment, to finding collaborators and booking spaces. In real estate strategies improving occupant wellbeing and harnessing the IoT are two objectives with near equal importance for corporate real estate executives (see the infographic below).
There are already numerous examples of mobile apps influencing the occupant experience beyond a reliance on interaction with physical building systems. One such example is Amenify, which equips occupants of premium multi-family residential buildings with a means to book nearby concierge, pet sharing and fitness services, and browse a log of local social events to enjoy. Another example is Club Med, a French tourist services firm, which uses Facebook’s Workplace app, a platform that features a community feed filtering the importance of content based on the seniority of the staff posting it. If a director publishes a post congratulating a manager on the completion of a successful project, users are more likely to see this than a post from more junior staff. This allows management to promote the organization’s culture and set the bar to inspire employees. Organizations can therefore leverage mobile apps to provide building occupants with a better experience in buildings that lack systems operating on open standards. And there are plenty more proof points in this nascent market.
Many of the mobile app market leaders like Comfy (recently acquired by Siemens), Schneider Electric or Honeywell boast of great connectivity to building systems – and they will impress users as they can adjust nearby HVAC and lighting to match their personal preferences. But a key takeaway from our latest analysis of the market is that using technology to improve an occupant’s experience of a property extends beyond how well its building systems work. Vendors that understand this will maximize their traction amongst potential buyers in the corporate and residential real estate world.