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Realising the business value of ubiquitous in-building connectivity

We talk a lot about the new experiences that are possible in truly interactive, flexible smart buildings and the potential for these experiences to completely change our conception of the built environment and our workspaces.

However, we cannot talk about these services and experiences if we don’t also talk about the enabling technologies that will underpin them.

Perhaps the most crucial of these underpinning technologies is connectivity. While we take wired connections, and even Wi-Fi, for granted in buildings today – we cannot lose sight of its continuing importance.

In fact, ubiquitous connectivity continues to be a vital pre-requisite for enabling every aspect of the smart buildings vision. This doesn’t just encompass the connectivity we already come to expect, but also includes factors like bringing mobile connectivity into buildings.

Creating this reliable, robust backbone of connectivity – of every type – is critical if we are to be successful in using technology to establish compelling new standards for the built environment and engender new working cultures within organisations.

The connectivity challenge

Creating this ubiquitous connectivity is no easy task. Even traditional ICT infrastructure fitout – involving wired and Wi-Fi connectivity – is a huge challenge on its own.

The process of deploying all of the physical infrastructure, the access points and the supporting systems is a massive undertaking – to say nothing of specifying and connecting the potentially tens of thousands of devices that will rely on these networks.

When you then throw mobile into the mix, the challenge becomes even greater – although it is a massive priority for businesses today.

As our client at Societe Generale said to us: “we needed to ensure seamless 4G service across all networks – with 5G future proofing – for the thousands of employees and customers that come through our offices at One Bank Street each day. Otherwise the connected experiences within the building would simply be a non-starter”.

The reason this complicates things further is that contractually guaranteeing service from mobile network operators (MNOs) is no easy task. At LMG we work closely with StrattoOpencell, the UK’s leading indoor mobile signal provider, using their long standing relationships within the telecommunications sector to obtain the necessary commitment from the UK MNOs.

Of course this adds a new layer of complexity to connectivity installs, but these steps are crucial to supporting buildings throughout their entire lifecycle and enabling the implementation of numerous connected services within buildings to allow businesses to thrive in multiple new ways.

Realising business value

To take the example of Societe Generale, the new connected framework is allowing the company to change its working methods in a profound way.

People using the building are now able to manage and personalise their entire experience via an app. This app allows employees and visitors to view an interactive map of the building, book meeting rooms, collaboration and hot-desk spaces; as well as keep up-to-date on Societe Generale’s latest news, beat queues for dining, order catering and much more.

Additionally, the connectivity infrastructure also supports services such as touch-screen kiosks located on each floor to assist with wayfinding, or even allow users to locate colleagues in order to ensure close collaboration on a specific task.

Once inside the meeting rooms, AV equipment for videoconferencing and wireless sharing ensures those working remotely do not miss a beat.

In this way the connectivity platform has enabled the transition to a fully digitised, connected workspace.

Delivering on the promise of ubiquitous connectivity

This is just one example of what is possible with the right connectivity infrastructure, intelligently deployed.

As our client said about the project: “The migration has been about more than simply relocating to a new building, it’s about resetting the way Societe Generale works as a whole. Indeed, the connectivity works so seamlessly that we’ve been able to free up the space associated with 300 desks due to the ease of working remotely”.

When you add in the fact that the average cost of ‘a desk’ for an enterprise is perhaps as much as £15,000 per annum, it means minimising the number of desks has a financial benefit as well – in the Societe Generale example that might have been just under half a million pounds a year in annual operating costs. The benefits of ubiquitous connectivity, and what it enables, to the business really are overwhelming.

LMG is completely focused on realising this potential for the whole built environment. While specific goals and objectives may vary – fundamentally building owners need partners that truly understand the technical requirements that will underpin the ‘smarts’ they want to achieve.

For more detail on the Societe Generale use case, please read the case study here.