We live in a truly amazing and rapidly changing world, and this even shows up in how a business facility operates. A concept known as smart businesses, or smart offices, has begun to take hold as companies look to keep up with technology trends.
Many of us have heard of “smart homes”, an interactive and wi-fi connected home concept partly pioneered by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Nicknamed Xanadu 2.0 after the fictional home in Citizen Kane, the Lake Washington home is 66,000 square feet in size, took seven years to build, and cost over $60 million. As a smart home, it boasts some of the most advanced technology in the world today. So much so, in fact, that it requires an estate wide-server system to handle all the gadgets.
A smart business might seem modest in comparison, but is a generation beyond the old school way of doing things.
What Is a Smart Business?
For the sake of clarification, it might help to review some descriptions and definitions.
One source describes it this way,
“A smart office is a workplace where technology enables people to work better, faster and, of course, smarter. Beacons, sensors and mobile apps help employees perform menial tasks better and faster, so they have enough time to focus on growing businesses and innovating.”
Another description notes that,
“A smart office is a workplace where modern technology is leveraged to help employees work smarter, better, and faster. This can be achieved by clearing the way of hurdles for the employees. By removing menial tasks and unnecessary obstacles – activities that drain time and energy from the workforce – smart office solutions lets employees focus on what really matters.
Typically, a smart office solution consists of a suite of technologies that connect with the employees, the building and existing IT infrastructure to achieve these goals.”
And, just to be clear, here’s one more definition for us,
- A place designed for flexibility. Flexible in the way that it is accessible and used every day and it is open for changes and innovation over time.
- Enabled by technology which efficiently supports the needed ways of planning and performing work.
- Enhanced by the services provided both regarding function, convenience and experience.
- Sustainable in every possible way balancing both economical, environmental and social aspects.
Essentially, one could sum it up by saying that a smart business is one that uses technology to help it’s employees work more productively and efficiently, whether they are working on site, or working remotely by connecting with their in-office team.
What Makes a Business “Smart”?
Obviously, technology is at the heart of a smart business structure, but – as many sources point out – the purpose is to benefit the employees. In other words, a smart business is not tech-centric for the sake of technology.
If technology doesn’t help employees it’s not necessary.
Some of the common features that make up a smart business include:
If you are unfamiliar with the term, IoT is an abbreviation for Internet of Things. These sensors form the foundation of a smart office and business, and must be implemented in order to make use of most all other smart technology.
These sensors are comprised of indoor motion-detecting devices using infrared, ultrasonic, microwave, or a similar technology for detecting occupancy. The data captured is shared with other platforms that analyze and provide information on office usage.
Smart Climate Control
Although it may still be a challenge to agree on a temperature range that works for everyone, it can be far easier with smart, or intelligent, climate control. These smart HVAC systems track workplace usage patterns and can automatically regulate temperature accordingly. This creates greater system efficiency, while reducing the carbon footprint and increasing employee comfort.
Smart lighting can potentially reduce energy costs by as much as 90 percent. According to Gartner. Smart lighting makes use of IoT sensors and controls and consists of LED lighting, along with connectivity and analytics.
The IoT sensors detect motion in a room and will turn the lights on or off, and control the lighting levels as needed.
Intelligent Video Monitoring
Used well, smart video monitoring increases security in workplaces and can provide information for facilities managers on how office spaces are being used. State-of-the-art video cameras now have wide-angle views, advanced zoom capabilities and low light functionality. They can also be accessed on both desktops and smartphones, while allowing users to monitor multiple locations at once with split screen viewing.
Smart Conference Rooms
An interconnected conference room is comprised of smart technology that can streamline the meeting process in a business. These features can include items such as hot desks, phone booths, and so-called “huddle spaces.”
In addition, a meeting management platform can monitor shared office space usages, including conference rooms. This can speed the booking process for rooms by allowing users to find and reserve available conference rooms.
Smart Businesses Can Mean Interconnected Printers, Too
An all-in-one, or multifunction printer, that’s also a wireless printer has many advantages for small business owners.
Save time, space, money and energy by having everything in one place and print, scan, fax, email, and store data to the cloud with one device. Having the ability to store data and email is one of the best parts of having a multifunction wireless printer.
Another advantage to a wireless printer is the fact that you can store it just about anywhere that you can pick up an Internet connection. Unlike a hardwired printer, you have much greater latitude and can place your wireless printer anywhere within range of the network and anywhere where a power supply happens to be.
The good news is that your wireless printer will be protected by the same safeguards as any other wireless device on the network. Having a wireless printer on your network does not make the network less secure for anyone on the network.