With so much technology available to every type of business, we all know that linking them together through integration is vitally important. When different solutions communicate and are synchronized with each other, getting work done becomes easier, more efficient and much less stressful.
From a workplace perspective, there are a multitude of workspace technologies and APIs that can all be inter-connected: workspace booking software, video conferencing software, calendar and email applications like Microsoft Outlook, visitor management and wayfinding, analytics tooling and much more. It all sounds complex at face value, but the benefits of pursuing integration of these solutions is well worth it, especially in the new era of flexible work.
In this article, we’ll look at two hypothetical realities: one where the opportunities of workspace technology integration are overlooked, and one where they are taken as far as possible in the pursuit of a smart, connected, flexible work environment.
What happens if you don’t integrate?
If you adopt lots of different technologies for running flexible workplaces, and leave them as a series of stand-alone solutions, they will still do the jobs they need to do. The problem is that a number of inefficiencies and headwinds will quickly hold your day-to-day operations back:
- Data replication: in order to keep everything up to date, information entered manually into one solution must then be entered again into others. For example, if a booking is made for a meeting room within a workspace booking solution, the same booking information must be entered into the organizer’s Outlook calendar with the relevant room details and times.
- Data inconsistency: connected to the previous point, human error or a lack of time can quickly lead to inconsistencies and inaccuracies, especially when things like meeting room bookings are changed and need updating. This can lead to problems when other attendees aren’t updated, and end up arriving at a meeting in the wrong place or at the wrong time.
- In accessibility of information: with data so spread out and siloed in different solutions, it’s much harder to ensure that everyone who needs access to information can always get access to it. The time and effort that they have to spend getting that information from other employees or other sources can quickly slow day-to-day operations down.
- Lack of insight: without the ability to put data from multiple sources into context, employers can’t gain a true understanding of how workspaces are used, and how to make changes to meet demand. This means they have to rely on an element of guesswork when making decisions, and are more likely to get those crucial decisions wrong.
What happens when you integrate fully?
By joining all the dots of your workspace technologies, the potential of your data is fully maximized, and both employer and employee alike will find that the ins and outs of flexible working suddenly become much easier:
- Synchronized data: plans made in one solution (such as a workspace booking) automatically appear – and are updated if changed – in other relevant solutions. This works both ways: for example, workspace bookings can be made through a Microsoft Outlook calendar and the information is immediately fed into the workspace management solution, saving the employee time and ensuring data consistency.
- Better data access: bringing all these solutions together makes it far easier for all employees to access important data, including on who is working where, when and with whom. This is especially vital under a flexible working model, where different employees are working in different places from one day to the next.
- Data-driven decisions: data from multiple sources can be fed into analytics tools, not only to spot patterns and insights within workspace usage, but more importantly to put them into context against other variables and circumstances. These are the insights that employers can rely upon to get workspace and real estate decisions right for the future needs of the business.
- Smart building development: creating a wider ecosystem of connected solutions makes it viable for businesses to pursue the creation of smart buildings, where all these technologies and all the data they produce combine with the Internet of Things to perfect employee experiences. At a time when some employees need compelling reasons to work from the office, this can make a real difference.