DisruptOffice: Experts Discuss The State Of Office Building Tech

On February 28th 2018, Boston’s top office technology executives attended DisruptOffice Boston, the first office and workplace technology focused event produced by DisruptCRE. Our office Building Technology panel discussed the Internet of Things (IoT), buildings systems, space utilization, and the developments these systems make possible from better utilities to concierge services.

The panelists included:

  • Josesph Fasone, Founder & CEO – Pilot
  • Adam Stoltz, Managing Director, Workplace Experience & Strategy – Transwestern
  • Adam Subber, Managing Principal – Cresa
  • Samira Ahmadi, Founding Principal – EnviEnergy Studio
  • Amy Korte, Principal – Arrowstreet

Fasone, who served as the moderator, asked first about the technologies progressive building owners were investing. Subber, who answered first, mentioned a recent “wireless backbone”, in a property, a feature designed to guarantee cellphones would always work while inside the building.

“Clear for-thought, that really makes a big difference,” Subber said.

How is Data Being Used to Stay Competitive and Increase Building Value?

Collecting data is one thing, but activating data, or making it useful for decision making, is another. This was a question Ahmadi tackled from the perspective of energy use and management.

“I can’t believe how many times I get a call saying “the building is performing poorly and it’s not even close to what the energy model predicted,” so I think the most important thing in the area of my work is managing the data before the equipment fails and becomes a big part of the building maintenance.”

How is Connectivity Enabling Buildings to be Better Prepared for Evolving Tech and Tenant Expectations?

One theme that emerged in the conference was an understanding of what connectivity offered, but a belief that the user experience for hyper-connected smart buildings was not yet optimized.

“I’m not sure that just having the connectivity is the answer,” Stoltz said. “I’d like to see more attention paid to dashboards that actually start to push out information that is actionable relative to the use of utilities or the pressures of occupancy over time…just being able to access the system puts the onus on me. The building could instead adjust a problem for me and tell me it was adjusted after the fact so all I have to say is ‘thanks’.

Amy Korte, a Principal with Arrowstreet, describes an instance where tenants decided to forego using monitors and screens entirely for the sake of utilizing AR technology which she emphasizes frees up your time in a different way and allows you to work in a differently. These new styles of work would fundamentally not exist without a reliable connectivity infrastructure.

What Had the Panelists Excited for the Future?

Developments for the future that had the panelists excited included a vision of AI that was smart enough to offer a near-human degree of alertness. Stoltz spoke of a future in which a conversation with a colleague via email that concluded with “let’s continue this conversation next time we’re both in Boston” could result in a notification, even months later when you’re both within the same building or vicinity of one another with a suggested meeting time and place included.

“That’s looking at what’s happening over email, calendar, room availability…all those systems can’t be individual, it can’t require me to look at five apps..but AI has the ability to do that,” he said.

“I’m not sure I’m ready for that level of utopia just yet,” Fasone joked to conclude the panel.