Technology for Business, Love it or Leave it
Why do we consider e-mail as something we can’t live without, but constantly complain about the volume of e-mail we receive, most of which is “Junk”? Many consider their Smart Phone as a critical business tool while others find them to be an annoyance. This is no different in the commercial real estate industry, the more efficient they make them, the more complicated they become. Sure, you can pull a new product out of the box and use it to some extent, but without spending some time to get to know the product we can only take advantage of a small fraction of its functionality. Time management is still the greatest challenge for most professionals. So why isn’t technology freeing up the time we need by processing all the information we need? Why don’t we spend the time to fully understand these products to get the most out of them? Are we too distracted by the next new shiny toy that we don’t complete the project we started? Do we just lack the attention span to fully execute our tasks? Are we afraid that by the time we understand it something new will take its place? I believe that there is some truth in all of these questions. Most of us are not doing only one job today as we perhaps did in the past. Fewer of us are specialists and more of us have many hats we wear throughout the day. Everything is going wireless, not just our phones but also laptops, tablets, printers, projectors, routers, repeaters, security monitors… this list is growly exponentially every year. However, most commercial office buildings are not yet ready to support full wireless communications indoors. Landline phones are becoming obsolete as mobile wireless technologies improve. This doesn’t seem to be a trend that is going to slow anytime soon. We have increased dependency on high-speed broadband over the last 5-10 years. The implementation of technologies in buildings has always lagged behind technologies available for business. Some say that not knowing what solutions are available and not understanding the solutions that are available remain the top challenges in implementing modern technologies for buildings. Actually, the number one hurdle in implementing modern technologies has little to do with technological knowledge, knowledge of available products, or time constraints. Cost is still the number one deterrent when it comes to implementing modern technologies in commercial buildings. Technology is supposed to “decrease operating expenses and increase productivity,” we hear that all the time. But most often that initial investment is keeping these projects from getting off the ground. Until building owners, IT departments and property managers get on the same page and work together to overcome these obstacles our desire for greater technology integrated into our commercial buildings will remain a dream. Until proven return on investment models and successful case studies of technology improvements and its correlation to productivity within the commercial real estate industry are readily available it will be extremely difficult to overcome the financial obstacles. Kurt M. Kalafsky, AIA is a founding partner/CTO of The Aztec Corp/Aztec Architects LLC.