In our era of digital disruption, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the excitement of smart technology without getting to grips with the business case that underpins a successful digital transformation project.
Our clients are always excited to learn about the smartest and most innovative ways to manage buildings, but stimulating interest in the latest technology isn’t the same as developing a robust business case.
That’s why, here in Boulder, Colorado, we’ve opened a laboratory to carry out smart R&D work for our clients. It’s called the ThinkBOLDR Center.
What goes on at BOLDR?
We focus on business value at BOLDR, and we don’t allow technology to lead us to an answer. When you start from that premise, everything else falls into place. It’s not easy – there are many options to consider, many technologies to explore – but by continually referring back to the business case, we work out what really generates value.
Every successful entrepreneur knows they need to scan the horizon continuously for new opportunities, yet at the same time focus on the work they have in front of them. It’s a tricky balancing act, and it’s vital to avoid being distracted by novelty rather than true innovation.
At BOLDR, we do some of the horizon-scanning for our clients. We welcome some of the world’s most innovative thinkers in smart technology to the ThinkBOLDR Center. We gather insight from academia, industry and commerce on what’s new and worth investigating.
What we learn, we apply practically and in an innovative way. We test technologies with a clear focus: we want to see how they will work on our clients’ project, or in their organisation. Always, we look for impact and value, the core of the business case.
Let’s talk technology
We’re experimenting with some of the most exciting new developments in smart buildings technology, using techniques such as virtual reality and Internet of Things (IoT) data streaming.
Data from all sorts of things can now be collected using sensors, automation systems, meters, and other smart devices. Gathered on analytics platforms the data informs decisions on issues such as space usage, energy and water consumption. Decisions that can be made by people or by artificial intelligence (AI).
Outcomes, however they are reached, lead to better buildings performance: faults are remedied, opportunities for cost reduction or building improvements are identified. The building becomes more sustainable and more usable, whatever its purpose.
But it’s people that matter most
Thinking BOLDR means considering technology in a human context because it is the way people behave, and how they feel, that leads to high productivity levels and outstanding performance.
Smart technologies make it easier for people to find their way around a building; locate and interact with colleagues and customers in the right way, at the right time; and use all the building’s facilities and equipment with ease. Smart can also mean comfort: lighting that matches circadian rhythms, temperatures and humidity levels that adjust automatically to meet exact requirements.
As robotics and intelligent automation blur the lines between the cyber and physical worlds, workforces must change to respond to different ways of working, and so must the buildings they work in.
Walking the talk…
Our ThinkBOLDR Center is a smart environment.
We have installed distributed sensor technologies and IoT solutions that collect data points including temperature, relative humidity, CO2, light level and occupancy, and we have integrated data from these systems into a centralised data storage and analytics platform.
As a result of holistic and cross-functional data analysis, we have developed new metrics. For example, we are able to better understand and quantify building energy performance by relating historical energy consumption to space utilisation. And we have created a user-facing mobile app that enables everyone to see information such as available work space, energy consumption and space temperatures and interact with the building to provide feedback.
We live smart, so we know that a sustainable and productive and building depends on more than physical structures and systems. it depends on how well the building connects with its users.
Daring to ‘think bolder’ – and testing how a smart approach works in a laboratory setting every day – is helping us to fully understand how to capture and create value. We don’t allow the technology to lead us, we look at what we want to achieve and drive towards it.