Wireframe of data in Smart Buildings with IWMS

Expanding an IWMS with smart building technology

The second blog in a three-part series around 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, we’ll discuss the growth of these systems, how the facility management and real estate management industry has seen beneficial growth, and the influences behind the rise of smart building technology.

Integrated Workplace Management Solutions, a continued evolution

As mentioned in our previous blog, the term “IWMS” was introduced by Gartner in 2004, when Michael Bell produced the first IWMS report. He noticed that a “clear transition from point solutions to enterprise suites characterizes the predominant trend in the market.”

The first generation IWMS focused on providing integrated solutions for real estate and lease management, facilities and space management, maintenance management, as well as project management and sustainability – domains that had a direct relationship with workplace management.

The definition of an IWMS according to Gartner

IWMS was characterized 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 in the following years.

The evolution of IWMS was influenced by many developments and innovations in other areas, such as economics, technology, and globalization. Rapid advancements in technology played an important role. Delivery models shifted from perpetual licensing to Software as a Service (Saas) and deployment moved from On-Premise to the Cloud. This resulted in improved availability, better functionality, and the possibility of lower total cost of ownership (TCO) 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 have grown quickly and made the technology more accessible. End users started using their mobile device to add requests or book meeting rooms while technicians used mobile devices to handle tickets. Processes were executed more efficiently 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 corporations 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 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, as well as increasing employee engagement and customer satisfaction, were important drivers for optimizing space utilization.

Organizations wanted to measure their space utilization 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, organizations were able to get immediate insight into their actual space occupancy, both workspaces and meeting rooms – allowing them to optimize the usage and generate benefits around cost reduction, sustainability, and customer satisfaction.

The growth of sensor technology over the last few years has 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, 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 and software, with connectivity that enables these objects to exchange data. The Internet of Things (IoT), was an important technological development that is now having a 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 could mean for RE & FM professionals.

Portrait of Geert van Offeren, Planon business consultant.

Geert van Offeren

Former Strategic Business Consultant at Planon

Geert van Offeren is a seasoned professional with expertise in strategic business consulting, program management, and global product marketing, and was part of the Planon team from 2006 to 2020. With a background in facilities management and information systems, Geert has a wealth of experience implementing software solutions and optimizing processes for various organizations, particularly in the governmental sector.

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