For corporate real estate tech startups: How to launch and execute a pilot with a corporate client in 3 months

Five ways CoREtech startups can help corporate real estate teams overcome bureaucracy, uncertainty, and risk aversion to launch a successful technology pilot

This is the second piece of a 2-part series. In this part, we focus on what CoREtech companies can do to accelerate innovation within a large corporate environment.

As mentioned in the previous article, the rapid evolution of real estate technology is transforming the physical workplace into a digital experience. Reasons companies should consider embracing these technologies are to 1) keep their employees engaged and productive, 2) attract and retain top talent, and 3) realize the efficiency and cost savings these new technologies can offer.

So why are large companies so slow to adopt?

Based on our research at CrowdComfort the leading reasons for delays include bureaucracy, uncertainty, and risk aversion. We’ve laid out five strategies below to overcome these challenges and shrink a traditional pilot timeline by 75% or more.

  1. Know your goals
  2. Assign yourself a champion
  3. Define and document goals
  4. Set a weekly cadence
  5. Create a community of super-users

1) Know your goals. Time kills deals…and it also kills startups. Don’t be afraid to ask some difficult questions during an introductory call. Find out if they have a budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT). Find out if they have done a project like this before. See if they can clearly articulate their goals and priorities. If they can’t answer these questions with confidence then they may be kicking the tires. Move on and find the next prospect.

2) Assign yourself a champion. A true champion is a business leader who will advocate for you and your team throughout the project ensuring you don’t fall victim to inertia. They are your guide through this process and will be by your side from the initial introduction to procurement, then through the launch and evaluation period. If the company you are working with does not provide one, you should definitely ask for one, listing a few of the reasons mentioned above.

Once assigned, leverage this champion to the fullest extent. Ask a lot of questions about the culture, the process, and the stakeholders involved. This is the person who can identify the objectors and what their objections are. This is the person who can help get you an exception (if needed) during the procurement review. This is a person who can help you prep for every meeting based on the stakeholders present in the room. This is the person who will make or break the project.

3) Define and document the project goals. A project without goals that are defined and documented is destined to fail. How can you justify an expansion if you cannot support the argument with data? It’s critical for the sales, operations, and customer success team to engage the corporate client to collaboratively develop the following items

  • Define at least three goals
  • Document theses goals
  • ID ways to measure success
  • Summarize results

The results summary is a critical part of the process here. You’ll want this to be in a simple short-form format that is easily shareable. You want to arm your champion with the collateral necessary to advocate for you and the expansion opportunity. At the end of a project the champion should be able to say “here is what we set out to do, here is what we did, and here is the data to justify expansion”

4) Set a weekly cadence. Similar to the previous post, the weekly cadence is an excellent forcing function to keep the project on everyone’s radar and moving forward. Setting ownership and action items is key to make sure there are transparency and accountability throughout the process.

5) Create a community of super-users. The more people you have advocating for you the better your chances of success. A champion often has the ear of the decision makers, but so does the aggregated opinion of the general office population. Try to be on-site for product launches and regular check-ins. Engage the community, get them enthused about your product, and address any troubleshooting with efficiency and professionalism. The more users you have and the happier they are the stickier the product becomes. Win over the people and you will win the project.

There’s obviously much more to cover here, but consider this a CoREtech starter pack. Whether you’re a startup looking for additional info or a corporate entity looking for some guidance on working with startups, please reach out to me at kevin@crowdcomfort.com

The #1 factor impacting high employee satisfaction is…

Responsiveness!  Employees just want to be heard.

This finding may seem intuitive for many, but CrowdComfort has recently unlocked the data to support it.

In Q4 2018 CrowComort officially released a new “rate-your-experience” feature in-app as a way for employees to score their experience with facility-related service delivery.   This may not sound groundbreaking to some, but over 85% of service request software providers have no way to collect this data in a simple and easy manner. Without this data it is nearly impossible to answer even the most basic questions

1) Are my employees being served well?

2) How can we improve employee satisfaction with the service delivery?

CrowdComfort’s “rate-your-experience” feature has unlocked a valuable set of data to answer both these questions.  In just the first few months of launching the feature there were hundreds of data points to work with. One of the most impactful findings is that the variable most closely correlated to a high level of satisfaction is responsiveness.  This superseded other items like resolution time, work type, and person who fixed the issue.

This tells us that people just want to be heard, even if it’s not the response they may have wanted.  A simple response like “parts have been ordered” or “work is scheduled for tomorrow ” can have a meaningful impact for the employees.  This is especially true if you consider that most reporting channels across the workplace often feel like sending a message into a black hole, leaving employees frustrated. 

On top of these benefits, the scores captured through the “rate-your-experience” feature can then be tied to Net Promoter Score (NPS), a key measurement of success at many leading global companies. 

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Want to learn more?  Reach out to Matt Carmody and find out how you can jumpstart your employee experience today - matt@crowdcomfort.com

Shocker: Employees dislike current workplace technologies

The fact that employees are frustrated with existing workplace technologies is no surprise to the CrowdComfort team.  However, what has largely been anecdotal to date was recently validated with a study performed by ISS 48% of the 2400 employees surveyed said they wished their workplace technology performed just like their personal technology.  

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Building Community with Real Estate and Tech

Boston Built Tech founder Chuck Tanowitz sits down with guest host Molly Bales of Adappt to explore the emerging intersection of technology and real estate. “Companies need to get together and coordinate in some way,” Tanowitz says because so many of these companies are working in the same space, and it’s important that they find ways to work together. That’s why he created Boston Built Tech. Nobody was convening these groups.

Real estate technology is exploding now for a number of reasons. First, the timing was right. Cloud computing, big data along with sensor technology and mobile have arrived. In addition, money has started flowing in and the nature of the workspace has changed. Co-working is a new phenomenon revolutionizing the industry. This is particularly true in Boston.

There is a new expectation of flexibility and community in the workplace. In the knowledge economy, work has to be a place where people want to go, not just to a place where they have to go.

Built Tech is about building a community around technology and real estate, so people know what others are doing.

But real estate is still a very local activity, and it would be great to see Built Techs popping up in other communities too. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles all have their local tech markets emerging. It will be very interesting to watch them as they continue to grow.

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Episode 1: Meet the Real Estate Tech Guys

The intersection of real estate and technology is a hot market. There is so much tech available for consumers, but the real estate community isn’t adopting it or is very slow to adopt it. Why is this so? If the technology is there, why aren’t these large real estate companies jumping in and implementing this […]

The Dark Side of IoT Devices in the Workplace

heatmapdyn

On Friday October 21st, 2016 a complex and sophisticated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack led to numerous media outlets, social networks, and retailers going offline for a couple of hours in parts of North America and Europe. After realizing that they could not even tweet about it, many people freaked out. Here’s a quick summary- Certain Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like web cameras, were spewing-out ten to twenty times the normal traffic volume across a large number of IP addresses. This caused widespread server crashes within DNS providers, which many services rely on. Because of this compounding recursive traffic—yes, there’s a professional term for it, a criminal investigation has been launched to find the identity of the attackers.

This malicious attack highlighted vulnerabilities in both the security of IoT devices and infrastructure. Although the increased presence of IoT devices certainly offer new capabilities within workplaces, they also introduce security risks that have not yet been fully understood.

We will continue to live in a world that relies on smart sensors and actuators for gathering data related to human activity and the status of machines. However, with CrowdComfort’s “Human Sensor Network” approach, building managers can capitalize on existing, secure devices. Through smartphone reporting, facilities leaders can receive feedback directly from building occupants without worrying about security breaches.

The Human Sensor Network is more secure, reliable and integrated into work life than smart sensors, actuators and devices. Here are some real life examples-

  • If a parking lot is iced over, the facility manager can be called by the first person that notices it. By utilizing smartphones that are in every occupant’s pocket, facility managers receive a high fidelity report it that captures the occupant experience. At CrowdComfort, smartphones gather data that augment and provide quality control on IoT devices. This creates a full picture of office experience.
  • Let’s say an occupant reports a downed tree that is blocking an exit road from their phone. If this photo automatically alerts the real estate manager, the security office and facilities manager and friends and colleagues, won’t it get solved faster? The more venues of communication, the better. Peers can help information get to the right people at the right time. This defines the Human Sensor Network.

While malicious Internet attacks will never go away and IoT devices will proliferate, the Human Sensor Network represents a secure and more “human” way of communicating and data gathering on ambient control systems in the workplace.

The Future of Real Estate Tech: 60 Leaders Weigh In

This past Wednesday, September 28, 2016, we hosted the world’s first Human Sensor Conference. 60 real estate leaders arrived from around the country to discuss the ways that occupant-facing technology will shake up building management. They were most interested in a mutualistic relationship- how can occupant-oriented technology not only improve the experience of every person in the building, but also provide insights that existing machines or Internet of Things (IoT) devices simply cannot cover?

CrowdComfort defines a Human Sensor as A Person + A Smartphone.

  • A Person, armed with a highly evolved set of sensing capabilities, and…
  • Their smartphone, the most advanced computing device we all use today.

This killer combination helps us advance the way buildings operate.

How can we leverage the interface between people and their smartphones to drive the next phase of productivity growth in America? We dove deeper into the McKinsey Global Institute Report  of 2012, The Social Economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies.  This report concludes that:

The most powerful applications of social technologies in the global economy are largely untapped. By using social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent.

It is clear that this statement remains true today 4 years after the report was released.

workerproductivitygraph

There are 3 ways that the traditional approach to facilities issues wastes valuable employee time:

  1. Email: Reading and answering e-mail
  2. Searching: Searching and gathering info
  3. Communicating: Communicating and collaborating internally. In total these tasks were consuming 61% of time average worker spends outside of their role-specific tasks.

Human sensing is meant to easily fit into employees’ daily activities, rather than ask them to explicitly take on a separate action. By just taking out their phone for 30 seconds, an employee can add an important data point for the facilities and real estate team.

During the conference we asked our speakers and participants to share their ideas about where this kind of Human Sensor approach might further drive productivity for US corporations. Here is what they saw in the future.

Energy Efficiency/Comfort - Led by James Newman @ EYP

The energy efficiency team observed that there was a lack of real-time data at a granular level. Sure, many buildings have a BMS system that can modify the internal temperature in real-time. But if that was all that was needed… why is discomfort in the workplace so widespread? Over 55% of employees report frequent discomfort on average. They still felt that we have a poor understanding of how indoor set points interact with outdoor temperatures and variations in the building envelope. Additionally, we have a poor idea of the level of noise that employees are experiencing. Where are the loud areas, and how do employees react to the noise?

In the future, they hypothesized that a Wi-Fi based system will be able to locate occupants in the building and automatically measure their reactions. Occupants will be able to easily report thermal, acoustic and lighting complaints. An operations team will constantly monitor and measure employee feedback and trends going on around the building. They will be be able to automatically pinpoint sources of discomfort through a combination of occupant feedback and IoT devices.

This will be accomplished through a few new technologies. Demand response will be able to interact with employee feedback. Smart lighting will automatically adjust to occupant reporting. Occupants will be notified on their watch or phone when changes occur around the building. It will be incredibly easy to submit comfort feedback.

Productivity - Led by Tom Zampini @ Beco

We have very little information when it comes to real-time location and behavior in buildings. Meetings are notoriously inefficient – when one person is late, the other attendees may sit idly while they wait. Multiply this by thousands of meetings around a building per year, and you end up with hundreds of wasted hours. Even finding a room can be difficult – if it’s your first time in a building, you’re usually the late one who everyone is waiting for! And finally, meetings often end early, leaving the room empty (and wasted) while the reservation runs its course. The way to leap over each of these hurdles is data, in real-time and long-term.

Light-powered, real-time location beacons will inform facilities planners on what types of spaces that employees prefer. They will allow these planners to create the ideal offices for their employee interests. This may be done without explicit surveying, unimaginable in today’s reality. Employees who take frequent meetings will be able to end the cycle of waiting for others to show up for meetings, or feeling guilty for being mysteriously late. They will know exactly how far way their colleagues are, and will be able to resume other activities in the meantime.

Workplace Experience/Employee Happiness - Led By Michael Gresty @ Rifiniti and Greg Meyer @ HYFN

There are very few data points that workplace strategists and facilities leaders can measure to cite their success. The dreaded annual survey is a major source of employee feedback, which may experience low participation rates and a fair amount of begging to ensure completion. In fact, facility managers frequently avoid employee feedback, since only the unhappy put in the effort tos speak up. Even these do a poor job of understanding all the micro-interactions that an employee experiences on a day to day basis. When and where are the unhappy moments exactly? How can workplace strategists understand this in real time?

Mobile and even watch-based feedback will play a big part of solving this in the future. Workplace and facilities teams will capture micro-events, like completion of a work order or the occurrence of a widely reported issue, and use it to get a pulse on employee happiness. If the work order was not completed to satisfaction or nobody is addressing the issue, the teams will mobilize in real time. In today’s reality, they may learn about dissatisfaction weeks later. Employees will be able to offer detailed feedback, and building services will be able to constantly monitor their success through employee feedback.

Healthcare - Led by Stephan Herzberg @ Florida Hospital Innovation Lab

A high functioning hospital has thousands of constant moving parts, but there is no equally flexible communication tool to match. Nurses, doctors and other employees are required to use antiquated communication methods like phone, email or talking to a receptionist. This jeopardizes the fast pace and threatens patient experience. Up to 5 channels have little live accountability- drugs, inventory, assets, communication and facility services. Although there are strict protocols that generally keep everything in working order, the price of a missed order could be steep in terms of dollars and cents as well as patient well-being.

With a human sensor network, all employees will be perfectly in sync without phone calls or bothering receptionists. It will be perfectly clear where different assets are located, and what drugs are running low. Facilities teams will be able to instantly respond to urgent issues. Nurses and doctors will not need to interrupt their daily lives and waste precious cognitive resources on reporting issues with assets. Simple reports will mean precious resources are always in the right place at the right time.

Conclusion

Early versions of these solutions have already been commercialized in some cases. In other cases, researchers are actively working on developing them. One golden question remains: who will push the industry forwards? 60 people attend the HSN conference. Who will join them? These early adopters are the key to the success of any of the technologies listed above. Only these innovators will push the industry forwards.

We also wanted to extend thanks to EYP, Beco, HYFN and Rifiniti for sharing their space analytics technology and the Florida Hospital Innovation Lab for leading our healthcare group.

Join us next year!

Make “sense” of building performance with CrowdSense

CrowdSense


We are excited to launch the arrival of our new informational tool called CrowdSense! The tool was built from an interactive visualization of 200+ smartphone reports sourced from one anonymous enterprise customer. In just a three-month sample, CrowdSense shows two previously unknown HVAC problems that the BMS (Building Management System) was unable to find.


“No facility has enough guys to cover every square foot. But with CrowdComfort’s technology in the hands of our students, it’s like having two thousand sets of eyes and ears out in the field,”
says Howie LaRosse, the Executive Director of Facilities Planning at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. LaRosse is describing CrowdComfort’s end-user app.

Smartphones users (students, office employees, etc.) submit reports that go straight to a facility, property, or real-estate manager. The managers also use the app to address concerns and reports in real-time. These reports are also geolocated, the same technology seen in popular apps like Instagram.

 

CrowdSense offers a way to understand the data that CrowdComfort’s “two-thousand sets of eyes and ears” provide. Facility Managers can view specific details of a maintenance report and thermal report including time submitted, photo included and location down to the nearest square foot. It gets as granular as a specific floor’s coffee maker overheating. These detailed reports are highly actionable: we were able to identify two HVAC issues that were causing employee discomfort in 2 separate parts of the building.

 

Currently, CrowdSense is viewable (http://www.crowdcomfort.com/crowdsense/) as a demo and requires no external software as it is web-hosted.