Wireframe of data in Smart Buildings with IWMS

Expanding an IWMS with smart building technology

This is the second blog in a three-part series about the evolution of systems that today are known as Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS). In the first blog, I reflected on the early days of Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) and Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS), and on my first personal experience with these applications.

In this blog I will talk about the growth of these Systems (IWMS), how professional Facility Management and Real Estate Management organisations have benefited, and the resulting influence on the rise of smart building technology.

Integrated Workplace Management Solutions, continued evolution

As mentioned in the previous blog, the term IWMS was introduced by Gartner in 2004. The first generation IWMS focused on providing integrated solutions for real estate and lease management, facilities and space management, maintenance management, project management and sustainability - domains that had a direct relationship with workplace management. IWMS was characterised by Gartner as ‘an enterprise-class software platform that integrates 5 key components of functionality, operated from a single technology platform and database repository’. Not every IWMS on the market provided solutions for all these domains in the early days but suppliers were innovating quickly and developed mature solutions over the following years.

The evolution of IWMS was influenced by many developments and innovations in other areas, such as economics, technology and globalisation. Rapid advancements in technology played an important role. Delivery models shifted from perpetual licensing to Software as a Service and deployment moved from on-premise to the Cloud. This meant improved availability, better functionality and potential lower total cost of ownership for customers.

The rapid innovations in mobile technology over the last two decades have also influenced IWMS. The use of mobile devices in combination with IWMS has grown quickly and made the technology more accessible. End users started using their mobile device to add requests or book meeting rooms and technicians used mobile devices to handle tickets. Processes were executed more efficiently and effectively with potential cost reductions and increased customer satisfaction. IWMS vendors started developing out of the box solutions based on market standards and best practices, which helped customers to implement their solutions faster. Integration and real-time interfacing with other systems like ERP or HR became easier through Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), where accurate information from all required sources was centrally available in the IWMS.

More recently the IWMS market has seen further transformation. Specific solutions or configurations became available for specific market segments. Good examples are IWMS based solutions for Service Providers, lease accounting compliant solutions for large corporates that have to be IFRS compliant or out of the box configurations for higher education concerning campus management. Over the coming years, we will see this trend continue, with more solutions for specific markets and industries, and also regional differentiation based on local requirements.

IWMS and smart building technology

The evolution in workplace management also played an important role in the development of IWMS. Innovative and flexible workplace concepts were implemented to support ‘a new agile way of working’. Reduction of cost and carbon footprint, and increasing employee engagement and customer satisfaction were important drivers for optimising space utilisation. Organisations wanted to measure their space utilisation in real-time and the first solutions based on integration between sensor technology and IWMS were developed. By making sensor measurement data on space occupancy available in an IWMS, organisations were able to get immediate insight into their actual space occupancy, both workspaces and meeting rooms – allowing them to optimise the usage and generate benefits around cost reduction, sustainability and customer satisfaction.

The usage and growth of sensor technology over the last few years have been an important step in the evolution of smart building technology. Sensor technology is not only used for measuring space occupancy, but also, for example, for measuring air quality, asset faults, energy consumption or even customer satisfaction. These sensors are part of a network of connected physical devices, assets, appliances and other items embedded within electronics, software, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. This network, the Internet of Things (IoT), was an important technological development that is now having a truly transformational effect on smart building technology.

In the third and final blog of this series, I will talk more about the impact of IWMS on smart building technology, and what this potentially means for facilities management and real estate professionals.

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