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Outlining the Ideal Workplace Solution

modern workspace real estate Workspace data and technology

In this article, we summarize the key concepts discussed in this series, Understanding the Impact of Workplace Data and Technologies, by outlining the traits of the ideal workplace management solution, which is deployable at scale and in line with an always tight budget.

Pervasiveness

As we have seen, by leveraging on a workplace management solution, the Real Estate function can generate enormous savings in terms of office space reduction and optimization. Intuitively, the more pervasive the facility management solution, the higher the value it will generate. A perfectly pervasive solution aggregates all the relevant crucial telemetry collected from all kinds of office spaces: desks, rooms, shared huddle spaces, hallways, lobbies, etc. The data aggregation does not only happen at a building level but also generate insights for global facilities’ entirety. On the flip side, choosing a narrow/specialized workplace management solution that may be deployed in a subset of spaces will almost certainly require a future change of technology or costly system integration to expand the scope and/or reach a global scale.

Ease of Use

In a previous post, we stated that it is imperative to design workplace management solutions for the right personas: Real Estate stakeholders and not IT ones.

Typically, the Real Estate personas do not have advanced IT skills. The best possible approach is to build a user-friendly consumer-grade experience, delivered on top of a rock-solid secure Enterprise technology. It is never an easy job to achieve such a result; nevertheless, we should always remember the following simple rule: the less IT involvement, the lower the cost, and the higher the likelihood of reaching global-scale workplace management.

Not having an intuitive UI, both for SW and HW, would result in higher IT helpdesk volumes. When it’s time to discuss the expansion of the unintuitive workplace management solution, IT will inevitably forecast the effort (man-hours) to support Facilities and end users, in relation to the larger scale. This will likely raise a red flag due to high operating expenses and lack of resources.

Ease of Deployment

Similarly, when the system is more complex, the higher the IT involvement, the higher the deployment cost, and the lower the likelihood to reach global scale. The goal should be to ensure that the Real Estate personas are able to purchase, provision, and operate the workplace management system autonomously, with minimal IT touch. At the end of the day, the Facilities function is the main beneficiary, keen to sustain the effort to deploy at scale, in exchange for a crucial return. Instead, IT’s role should be vetting the solution’s security aspects and providing access to the network for devices and sensors. The devices/sensors should be easy to install, mimicking a consumer-grade user experience, so that a Real Estate Planner may do it autonomously, for instance, through a mobile app.

Low Maintenance Cost

Complex workplace solutions made of heterogeneous parts require a high maintenance effort, especially from IT. The perfect solution should be “install and forget.” Once all the devices are deployed and provisioned against the workplace management backend, the field interventions should be minimal and fast to carry out. Companies should dramatically discount technology fanciness in favor of a pragmatic approach. For example, sometimes, hidden cables are preferred to batteries and antennas because they do not require a solve for radio interferences/conflicts or to manually intervene on the devices, therefore saving precious operating expenses.

Leverage Existing Investments

Apart from a few exceptions, the office spaces are typically equipped with a set of technologies that span across a large spectrum of obsolescence. Being able to leverage as much as possible, the existing installed base becomes crucial to the project’s success. Bringing existing infrastructure and devices in the workplace management system leads to multiple advantages:

  • It accelerates pervasiveness, as it does not require IT to evaluate, select, purchase, and deploy a new generation of devices. You deploy new capabilities on existing HW via add-ons and/or SW upgrades.
  • It allows Real Estate to leverage the existing IT support for some of the spaces. For instance, IT already manages collaboration devices, routers, and switches. Adding new capabilities on top of them would be an acceptable marginal increase of complexity.
  • It creates synergies that lead to richer data and experiences; high-end collaboration devices feature advanced workflows and AI capabilities (automated pairing, people recognition, people count) that produce better insights and enable advanced workplace use cases.

In synthesis, the higher the degree of reliance on existing infrastructure and devices, the lower the capital expenditure to deploy at scale, the lower the incremental operating expenses to be sustained at scale, the better the end user workflows and workplace insights.

Modularity

The workplace management solution should be adoption-friendly for both greenfield and brownfield customers.

The higher the short-term adoption or switching cost, the harder the purchase decision, the longer and more complex the sales cycle

Real Estate should be able to purchase a standalone part of the solution that solves a specific problem and delivers a specific value. Once the concept is proven, it should be easy to add more modules to the existing solution, solving more problems and unleashing synergies across the solution components. A popular approach is starting from the rooms (leveraging existing HW) and expanding towards all the other office spaces.

Core Use Case Coverage

The higher the out-of-the-box value, the better. However, it is not realistic to find a turnkey modular solution that would support any possible use case scenario in any vertical. The right approach is to select the workplace management solution that out-of-the-box supports 20% of use cases, delivering 80% value, without expensive customization or system integration.

Extensibility

Sometimes, the core 20% use case coverage is not enough for the customer to obtain the desired results. The workplace management solution should be based on a platform that allows an ecosystem of partners to extend the core use cases through bespoke applications and integrations leveraging on APIs.

One Platform, Multiple Backend Applications

The perfect workplace management solution serves multiple personas (end-users and Real Estate stakeholders) with specific applications, while leverages on existing devices managed by IT. In order to maximize the overall value and minimize the integrations, the workplace data should be aggregated into a single platform powering multiple applications tailored around the various personas involved.

Why Cisco is the Right Choice

Cisco means network connectivity, on-prem infrastructure, collaboration devices (100M+ phones, telepresence market leadership), security, applications, and more. It’s all aggregated into a single industry-leading enterprise platform, Webex, which is continually expanding its capabilities to become the #1 workplace management platform.


Cisco’s unique integrated capabilities span across the full technology stack. It guarantees the highest security standards while supporting emerging workflows through consumer-grade user experiences, which is nearly impossible to achieve by the typical collage of heterogeneous parts orchestrated through extremely expensive system integrations.

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