Expectations, hopes and wishes for Smart Buildings in 2022

As we embark on a new year and with uncertainty still clouding future projections and outlooks, attitudes towards technology in the built environment are ever changing, with new innovations, new technologies and evolving priorities for landlords and developers.

We spoke to Vanti CEO, Mike Brooman, about what trends he expects, hopes and wishes to see within the industry in 2022.

Developers and landlords understanding the value

You would think that by 2022, landlords and likewise developers would understand that technology is a key part of any built environment, whether it is a working environment, a cultural attraction or a learning base. Yet despite this, you’d be surprised by how many actually apply this train of thought.

The pandemic has certainly acted as a wake-up call for many, whether it is landlords investing in retrofitting existing space, or developers reworking plans for buildings which reflect everyone’s best guess at what the infamous “new normal” may look like. What has been encouraging to see is a slow but sure turning of the tide, with smart buildings being embraced and integrated technological solutions moving higher up the priority list, to provide enhanced value for occupiers, allowing them to control their space.

The benefits for those who do value the importance of technology will be far reaching. Not only will they benefit from safer, more secure environments and an element of wow factor for those that use them, but technology can provide the best experience for those who are most important, the people who use that space every day.

Buildings as destinations

Over the past two years, Coronavirus has and continues to drastically alter the way we live and behave not only in our personal lives, but also our working lives. With ever-changing government restrictions, the fear of new variants and changing working attitudes, one thing we can be sure of is workplaces and buildings play a much different role to what they did pre-pandemic.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics last year, 85 per cent of working adults in the UK intended to use a hybrid approach of both home and office working in the future, with an improved work-life balance identified as one of the key benefits. The same research showed online job adverts including terms related to “homeworking” have increased at a faster rate than total adverts, with homeworking adverts in May 2021 three times above their February 2020 average.

With this in mind, the modern workspace needs to offer much more than bricks, mortar, desk space, a prime location and a pretty view out of the window. They must offer environments which inspire staff, act as a catalyst for collaboration and productivity and an intuitive experience to make the hybrid working approach as seamless and integrated as possible. This could take the form of technology giving staff the ability to book a desk from home so they know they will have somewhere to sit when they come in.

Without a doubt, clever use of technology and a smart approach will be the common denominator in the spaces which offer the best experience as possible.    

Best of breed solutions

Too often as a business we will be evaluating projects where a business or organisation has set up a nice, all singing all dancing technology infrastructure and has used a single vendor to address all of its solutions.

While this one size fits all approach seems sensible, stress-free and easy to maintain in theory, organisations are missing out on a whole host of benefits they could take advantage of if they instead harnessed best of breed technologies.

As a business, integrator and specialist technical consultant, Vanti is constantly evaluating the market to identify improved solutions across multiple vendors and technologies, so we can provide the best advice and design, implement and integrate the best systems possible. All businesses should steer away from using a single vendor for everything and embrace those who produce the best solutions that underpin each defined use case in their building.

Point based SaaS solutions

While most of this blog has been focused on things we’d like to see more of in the next year, there is one thing which we should all celebrate the demise of – point-solution SaaS products which try to lock building owners and operators into solutions which do not provide the best outcomes possible at the lowest total lifecycle cost.

SaaS or Software as a Service is a software distribution model in which a cloud provider hosts applications and makes them available to end users over the internet. While they do provide ready-made solutions and can also take the burden of setup and maintenance away from companies, they are usually subscription-based services which can be difficult to exit and trap their users into using inefficient or incorrect software.

Depending upon the built asset, it’s also possible that using SaaS solutions could limit the value of your building. Many cloud-based solutions are deploying proprietary integrations inside properties making it incredibly difficult for any new, acquiring owners to ‘plug in’ their own operational tools and applications.

If we have learnt anything from the last couple of years, it is that flexibility and the ability to be agile are incredibly important to organisations of all shapes and sizes, something which these services can make extremely difficult, particularly where long-term contracts and vendor lock-in are involved.