Why Your Building Needs a Technology Experience Leader

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Melissa Marsh
Melissa Marsh
I am a passionate practitioner of Workplace Strategy and a leader in Change Management services. By combining social science research with architectural expertise, I recommend evidence-based interventions that promote both individual wellness and business success through a more responsive built environment. In addition to working with clients across North America and Europe, I have contributed to courses for CoreNet and WORKTECH, spearheaded international learning and technology initiatives, and lectured at UVA, Cornell, and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

A new role for new ways of working.

Image courtesy of PLASTARC.

No doubt, your building has a facilities manager. More than likely, your company has a chief technology officer. But, do you have a technology experience leader — a thought leader at the intersection of workplace and technology, who helps you make the most of both?

If you’re not familiar with this role, no worries. Just think of a technology experience leader as a CTO for your building: a visionary who’s equally well-versed in design, technology, business strategy, and human resources. Depending on your company, your “building CTO” is probably the person who will do the lion’s share of the following:

  • Mastermind the ways smart building technology can serve your business
  • Envision, oversee, and advocate for investments in your workplace’s tech infrastructure
  • Monitor the tech side of your building’s operations
  • Liaise between your workplace’s smart features and the employees who use them
  • Action the (many) suggestions for improvement that social data is delivering to his or her doorstep at every moment

The role of technology experience leader has come about in the recent past for two main reasons:

  1. Today’s tech-savvy top talent expect their workplace to be tech-enabled, so top organizations need to understand and offer current amenities to stay competitive
  2. Tech-enabled buildings produce scads of valuable data, so you’re missing opportunities for increased employee satisfaction, as well as cost savings, if you don’t know how to use it.

Let’s unpack these reasons a bit, then zoom out to the bigger picture.

Image courtesy of PLASTARC.

Our tech-enabled lives

Technology becomes a bigger part of our personal lives with each passing season. In 2017, we go out to dinner by searching Foursquare for restaurant recommendations and making reservations with OpenTable. After our meal, we check Snapchat to see who’s already out in the area, and meet friends for a nightcap at the corner bar. Then we rate our food and drink experiences on Yelp. We catch a ride home using Uber and rate the driver. When we reach our living room, we dim the lights using Hue, ask Netflix for a movie recommendation, then pronounce a star rating that will influence future suggestions.

We see how easy and efficient tech has made our personal lives, and now we want to manage our work tasks with the same convenience. We want to register guests on LobbyLink, order our lunch through Seamless, find meeting venues on LiquidSpace — and then use DropThought to give our two cents about how it all went.

Today’s top companies are eager to recruit tech-savvy workers who know the digital landscape and will help their employers thrive in our increasingly tech-tied world. While many of the things that have always made job offers attractive remain the same — competitive pay, generous benefits, engaging work — companies who want to appeal to top talent must now also offer the technological amenities that many of the best and brightest have come to rely on from sunrise to sunset (and well beyond).

Image courtesy of PLASTARC.

What to do with all that data “ore” you mined

PLASTARC’s raison d’être is to make workplaces work better for people, so of all the facets a building CTO’s scope of work is likely to encompass, we take a particular interest in the role he or she can play in putting to good use the reams of social data any smart building is constantly spitting out.

Does your company’s proprietary app show which conference rooms are booked most often, and which sit vacant? Great — that can help your technology experience leader determine what makes a space appealing and do more of it, thereby curtailing traffic jams and avoiding empty lots. Do your employees use Comfy to control the temperature in their spaces? Great — your building CTO can aggregate their info to spot trends and anticipate what will make people climate-comfortable. Each such improvement might seem small on its own, but they quickly add up to a more inviting, more productive work environment (hello, top talent: you’re gonna love this place).

The very same premises go for saving your company dough. Does your organization collect badge swipe data that can show when the last person leaves for the night? Super — now your technology experience leader can make sure the office lights turn off behind her. The possibilities for curbing costs are as limitless as the opportunities for improving employee satisfaction.

Image courtesy of PLASTARC.

What does it all mean?

The increasingly central and important role technology experience leaders are playing in buildings today is just one of many indicators that the power of social data is beginning to dawn on the workplace. PLASTARC sees this as the start of a real golden age, one in which technology enables building design to focus first and foremost on serving and sustaining human experience.

If your building doesn’t have a CTO of its own, now’s a good time to start looking.

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