As we return to the workplace, the way we will interact with our space is a hot topic. With social distancing rules still in place, keeping track of the number of people already on a floor, waiting room or meeting room becomes imperative writes Jonathan McFarlane cofounder of PlaceOS.
Many businesses are having to find ways to track this data and are turning to apps to do this. However, with office buildings having multiple floors and thousands of employees moving around, this isn’t an easy task.
The problem with apps
Apps are designed to only do a set number of things. If you want it to do anything more, developers have to build and push a new version out, and users have to download an update. When it comes to using apps, workflows tend to become incredibly clunky, as one task may involve opening and closing lots of apps to get the job done right. The process of posting content to Instagram and LinkedIn acts as a great example. To get the best photo, we may use three different apps to select, enhance and edit the content before uploading, and then track the engagement via a fourth app.
These tasks undoubtedly come easily to us because we’ve gotten used to it, but when it comes to workplaces and buildings, customers are thinking more broadly and aiming for passive interaction with technology. They don’t want all their building technology to be disconnected systems that require multiple apps to operate. And they certainly don’t want an app for the car parking, an app for their elevator, an app for their virtual access card, an app for the desk finding and an app for their room booking.
This is where platforms come in handy as they have integration and automation opportunities that apps just don’t. There are two main advantages to them — they provide agility within a business, while also being easy to use; and they allow for easier transfers of data.
Platforms = agility and ease of use
Customers are wanting more seamless interactions with technology on a daily basis, and platforms offer this experience to them with their ability to be agile and easy to use. As we return to the workplace, this becomes even more important. With new processes in place as we enter buildings, such as temperature checks and signing in, getting visitors to download apps or singularly input information into the database is time-consuming. By having an integrated platform in place, the middleman can be removed, lines can be shortened and people can go about their day with minimal interruptions.
Technology also needs to respond to new data feeds, changes in logic and new applications at a much faster rate to stay agile. It can no longer take weeks or months to on-board a new partner, change application logic, or add new applications to the data mix. While offering a great first impression, in the long-run, apps aren’t built with a robust and scalable platform. Platforms on the other hand, are built for flexibility.
Take PlaceOS for example — we can integrate with everything and automate anything. This means that besides providing a great user interface for a variety of technology, we can also set up automated smart triggers to control the technology within a building. For example, those that use our technology in their buildings can automate and control a number of functions, including access management, room bookings and space management — all using existing data sets, i.e. calendars and known preferences, eliminating the need to provide additional data. Weaving together separate apps, data sets and tools, these integrations ultimately work to provide a seamless experience for staff and visitors.
Ease of data transfer
Earlier I mentioned how using apps creates a clunky workflow, as one task may involve opening and closing lots of apps to get the job done right. Each app in this process takes up memory space – both in your phone and your mind – and constantly swapping between them gives you opportunities to get sidetracked, distracted or forget what you’re doing. The same process occurs when you have to constantly move back and forth between apps to ensure that all the information is up-to-date. It just leaves more room for error and mismatched data codes across the system.
Having an integrated platform however, means that the room for error is significantly reduced, as there is no process of mapping codes between systems. Instead, you can make the change in the main database, which is then automatically carried out in each part of the system. Unlike apps where you’re forced to control everything separately, this provides a single point of contact for many digital experiences.
Aside from the time savings from automation, integrating all the technology within a physical space creates a unified digital experience for that space, because you and your teams are no longer shifting between apps to complete your tasks. Shifting to this form of technology implementation will inevitably lead to easier transitions back into the workplace, as employees won’t have to change their routine; instead, the software will do it for them.