• Intelligent Building Technologies
  • Mobile Apps
  • Building Innovations

Apps Are the Next Intelligent Building Differentiator

Tom Machinchick
Mar 12, 2019

Connectivity 11

Intelligent building technology is rapidly shifting the value propositions of commercial buildings. Energy has long been the focus of building technologies in general, and for good reason. Buildings consume about 40% of the energy generated in the US, making them a significant area to target for meeting future climate goals. Buildings today, however, are transforming into significant enterprise assets with the development of advanced, intelligent technologies. Building applications, or apps, will be the interface between the technology in the building and the people who use it. Creating the right app will be key to both the uptake and success of the intelligent building solution. 

Apps provide a humanizing aspect to the technology in the buildings. They insulate the user from the technical complexities of the data and systems and ultimately serve up a useful function. People have grown to expect technology to serve their needs; Phones, homes, cars, and other basic elements of their life are all providing new and useful services for them. Expectations for the buildings that people work and live in are following a similar track. 

Connection for Users Inside and Outside the Building

Apps connect building users to services inside and outside of the building. They also allow the organization or enterprise to capture value and operational savings by managing costs, enhancing engagement, and increasing efficiency and productivity. A short list of some of the value-added functionality that apps can provide follows:

  • Concierge: Provide assisting services for tenants
  • Workforce management: Assist employees in finding work spaces
  • Locating: Find people/colleagues/collaborators throughout the building
  • Facilities management: Help to identify problems in the building
  • Tenant comfort: Individualized comfort settings
  • Building information: For example, air quality, schedules, CO2, air particulates, etc.
  • Engagement: Enhance interaction with occupants

Apps Must Add Value 

Apps for buildings are not new; many buildings already have an app. Caution must be taken by building owners and managers, however, when implementing an app strategy. The bottom line is that the app must add value. The more value it offers, the more buy-in and usage will occur. Standardization of the look, feel, and functionality should be present for consistency, while the addition of customization for each building will complement the specifics of each building’s needs. Different locales (weather), building uses, and the needs, wants, and desires of tenants must be captured in local applications.

In addition to the value of the app, user interface (UX) for the app must be consumer grade. Users will expect no less from a building app than the apps that they use in other areas of their life. They have no time for bad or generic applications of technology. 

It is inevitable that building apps will transform the way people work and interact with buildings. The measure of value that those apps provide will stem from the process that is used to define and build those apps, as well as the UX that is used to access them.