Category: innovation

We are proud to share a new product offering from your friends at CrowdComfort: COVID-19 Cleaning Maps.

A top priority for organizational leadership is instilling confidence that employees are returning to a safe and clean workplace

The Product

CrowdComfort COVID-19 Cleaning Maps show a livestream data visualization of what’s been cleaned and what hasn’t – it’s really that simple.  Cleaning visualizations can be used internally to manage staff or presented on digital signage around the building.  Key product takeaways include

  • No hardware, integration, or existing data source required
  • Enables employees to easily see what spaces have been cleaned
  • Demonstrates that safety and cleanliness are top priority for management
  • Unlocks better management of cleaning crews

Learn more here

Sanitation Map II4.3020v2

The Backstory

In early March impact of the pandemic began to sink in as conferences were canceled, restaurants were closed, and many businesses told their employees to stay home.  These first few weeks were filled with chaos and uncertainty as everyone was trying to figure out where this was all going.  Towards the end of March we reached out to our customers, partners, and community members to ask two simple questions: how are you and how can we be helpful?

These conversations painted an inspiring picture of adaptability, resilience, and fortitude.  For the most part people at these companies boldly managed through the peak of uncertainty, communicated honestly to employees, facilitated a seamless transition to remote work, and were already in re-entry planning mode before the end of April. 

The top priority for all stakeholders we spoke to is ensuring that employees return to a safe, clean, and productive work environment.  Specific areas of focus are on an enhanced cleaning/sanitization plan, social distancing, and low-touch/no-touch surfaces.  During these conversations, we realized that we’re uniquely positioned to assist with enhanced cleaning strategies.  We already capture real-time geo-located reports in the workplace.  And we already map that into data visualizations about workplace trends.  The one piece we were missing is the live feed from the input (reporting) to the output (visualizations).  A few internal conversations and scoping meetings later COVID-19 Cleaning Maps were born.   

How It Works

Three simple steps

1. We digitize floor plans and work with clients to identify cleaning locations (zones, rooms, desks) that are tied to virtual pin drops on floor plan and tied to GPS coordinates and stored in cloud

2. Cleaning crews use CrowdComfort app to confirm their work at each zone with location, text, and a picture

3. CrowdComfort feeds reporting data to a live map clearly presenting the real time status of workplace cleanliness

Sign up for a demo heresample-dashboard-laptop

We hope this can be a helpful solution for you and your team.  To learn more, visit our website or schedule a demo today.

Best,

Kevin

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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

Read more…. 

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 

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Three ways Fortune 500 real estate teams can overcome bureaucracy, uncertainty, and risk aversion to launch a successful technology pilot at a large corporation.

This is the first piece of a 2-part series.  In this part we focus on the corporate real estate leaders and the things they can do to accelerate innovation.

The rapid evolution of real estate technology is transforming the physical workplace into a digital experience.  Companies that don’t offer the most advanced and innovative workplace will be at a competitive disadvantage within their market.  Compared to the companies that embrace, adopt, and scale these technologies, the laggards will be challenged to 1) keep their employees engaged and productive, 2) attract and retain top talent, and 3) miss out on the efficiency and cost savings these new technologies can offer.

Despite this set of compelling incentives to accelerate innovation, the corporate real estate market has been a laggard in the adoption of modern mobile technology.  This seems to be changing as more companies become educated on the benefits, yet the process to research, vet, and pilot technologies can still take up to 12 months.  Based off our research at CrowdComfort the leading reasons for delays include bureaucracy, uncertainty, and risk aversion.  Through 5+ years of experience on 100+ projects we’ve identified three key factors that can mitigate these forces and accelerate the innovation process within large companies, ultimately shrinking the time-to-deployment of a new project o 3 months.    

1) Define and document the specific pain point you are solving 

2) Assign a champion early on in the process.

3) Set a cadence.

1) Define and document the specific pain point you are solving.  Too often, what starts off as a simple and well-defined project, snowballs into a significantly larger and more complicated endeavor that ends up watering down the original purpose of the initiative.  Defining and documenting the pain point you are solving provides an anchor when the project becomes noisy. 

An example:  You have a team that is tasked with deploying a room-booking technology.  As you do research you discover that some room-booking companies also offer a service request category.  You loop in facility teams to include them in the process.  As you work out the details, someone suggests that if you are already deploying an app that will do room booking and service requests, you should also think about adding other services like badging in, food orders, and wayfinding.  Before you know it you are coordinating the interests and requirements of 5 different departments only to discover that there are no off-the-shelf apps that can do all of these things well.  It is decided that the project will need to be completed by either the in-house IT or an outsourced custom development shops.  By this time 12 months have gone by, the budget has ballooned to $1M+, and there isn’t even a working prototype.  

Stick to solving the original pain point.  Deploy the standalone room booking app recognizing that it may not be perfect, but at least you can get something delivered on-time and on-budget that will create a foundation of which you can build upon.  Rapid iteration and a Lean approach are critical to execution of an agile innovation strategy

2) Assign a champion early on in the process. A technology provider cannot be expected to navigate the corporate waters efficiently or effectively without a champion.  If the technology provider is leading efforts to engage with IT, Security or procurement, they will likely be deprioritized because there is no sense of urgency since they lack the authority to enforce the completion of certain tasks.    A big reason that CREtech project can take 12+ months to launch is because they get held up in one of the “approval gates” and can spend 3+ months on the shelf, often time forgotten.  

A true champion is a business leader who will advocate for the technology and your team throughout the project ensuring the initiative doesn’t fall victim to inertia.   This person will guide the technology provider through this process and will be by their side from the initial introduction to procurement, then through the launch and evaluation period.   Some specific responsibilities of the champion include

  • Intimately understand the organizational culture and process and “approval gates”.  It’s important that the champion has the knowledge of who needs to review and eventually approve each part of a new technology.  
  • Communicate the importance of the project to relevant stakeholders across the organizations.  If the IT doesn’t understand the purpose of context of the project, they can often misunderstand or mismanage the review of the technology leading to unnecessary delays.
  • Collaboratively build a business case with technology provider.  There will be many objections throughout the process that will create delays, often ending with the question “why are we doing this?”  While articulating the reasons is helpful, it is essential to have a business case that is data driven and demonstrates an ROI.  
  • Be a squeaky wheel.  Most people don’t like to be this person, but the champion needs to be vocal and persistent in order to keep process moving.
  • Creatively overcome barriers presented by bureaucracy.  Many companies have outdated review process of technology requirements.  A champion will work with the necessary stakeholders to appropriately overcome these challenges, whether that is modifying specific language, creating new forms, or getting buy-in from the higher-ups on signing off on an exception.  
  • Manage expectations of the technology provider.  Technology providers will not be as familiar with your organizational culture or process, as you are.  It’s important for a champion to communicate the process and manage expectations of the provider.  The sooner a provider understands the journey that lies ahead the better they can prepare to execute.

Real disruption and innovation isn’t easy.  Most people don’t like change and there will be many who push back on any new way of doing things.  A champion is the person who embraces the challenge with enthusiasm, energizes the community with a vision, and ensures that a project will be delivered on-time and on-budget.  

3) Set a weekly cadence.  Time kills all projects.  The longer a project takes to execute, the greater the likelihood a showstopper will emerge, whether it is a sudden change in budgets, priorities, or leadership change.   We all know that when someone suggests to “table the conversation for 2 months” what they really mean (80% of the time) is that the project is being put on the shelf indefinitely.  An effective way to overcome this is to set a weekly cadence with the relevant stakeholders.  

A weekly 30-minute check-in should be structured and consistent each session.  While each project will be unique, a general framework for this check-in is outlined below:

  • What we did last week, current status, and what we are doing next week
  • Review the project goals and determine if you are on track to hit them
    •  If you are, great, share the success with the team to keep them engaged and enthused.  
    • If you aren’t, acknowledge that and determine ways to get the project back on track.  
  • Leave time for open questions, objections, and organic discussion.  This is an opportunity to weed out any new objections, ulterior motives, or hidden opportunities 

This cadence keeps the project top-of-mind and acts as a forcing function to complete all the seemingly small tasks that can accumulate and fester over time if left unaddressed.  Also important to document many of these check-in with email summaries or minutes afterward to ensure everyone is on the same page and has ownership of certain action items.   This consistency, transparency, and accountability will prevent delays and keep a project moving along efficiently.  

Summary

Innovation is hard.  This is especially true when working with emerging CREtech within a large corporate environment.  There will be objections, delays, and stakeholders with incentives to derail certain projects.  There will be ambiguity, uncertainty, and a handful of risk factors lurking around every corner.  It’s important to recognize these obstacles and proactively implement the appropriate infrastructure that will position the project for success.  Specifically, defining a specific pain point to solve, assigning a champion, and setting a weekly cadence.  At CrowdComfort we’ve completed over 100 projects many that were successful and some that were not.  The successes always included at least two of these factors.  The failures lacked all three.  

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