Making “Cents” of IoT Sensors: Are They Worth The Investment?

by Glenn Hicks on October 16, 2018

The Internet of Things is everywhere, and IoT sensors are the next evolution.

But for many companies, it’s still not clear where IoT sensors should fall within their workplace strategy and whether they’re worth the investment.

Ultimately, whether to invest in IoT sensors is a decision only your organization can make. Here are some statistics to consider and some important questions to ask as you think about the impact sensors can have on your bottom line.

The Business Case For IoT Sensors

The way we work has clearly changed.

More employees are working remotely, whether at home or in co-working environments. We’re moving toward a “gig economy,” with more people coming and going as independent consultants or contractors.

As real estate costs continue to rise, it’s more important than ever for organizations to maximize space utilization—yet more difficult to keep track of it in real time.

Consider these workplace statistics:

Sensors can bring value by offering the most accurate space utilization data. And when they’re paired with space management software, they allow workplace leaders to get a clear picture of which spaces are underused so they can make adjustments to save money.

Considering how much a single vacant workstation can cost your organization, the amount you can save by consolidating or sharing spaces can be tens of thousands of dollars.

IoT sensors can add value in other ways as well. For instance, they can reduce maintenance costs by monitoring room activity so facilities management teams can clean as needed, rather than on a set schedule.

They can also predict and prevent equipment breakdowns, potentially reducing downtime by 50 percent, according to a study by McKinsey Global Institute.

Using sensor technology to monitor energy usage in office buildings can reduce energy costs by as much as 20 percent, according to the same report.

Before You Invest: 3 Key Questions to Consider

The cost of IoT sensors has dropped significantly in recent years and continues to decline.

Although some sensors are more expensive, the smallest ones are expected to cost less than 50 cents by 2020. Still, the investment can be considerable if you’re adding one to every workstation. Make sure you’re getting the best return on your investment by asking these key questions:

  1. What do we want to accomplish with IoT sensors? (Better space utilization? Better energy efficiency?)
  2. How will we use the data we collect? Do we have an easy way to integrate with other data from our workplace, such as reservations for rooms and workstations?
  3. How will we measure success? What metrics will be most important?

The Infinite Loop of Value

The Internet of Things offers us a wealth of data, but the data itself can only tell us so much. To get the best value from IoT sensor data, you need to use it in conjunction with other digital workplace technologies. Sensors collects valuable real-time data about how employees use the workplace. That’s the first step.

When you can see sensor data within the context of physical workspaces, you can have better visibility into trends related to space utilization, room reservation, service requests and more. And workplace leaders can respond by fulfilling immediate requests and even anticipating future ones.

This requires connecting IoT sensors to an integrated workplace management system (IWMS). That’s the second step.

Finally, with employee apps and kiosks enabled by iOFFICE Hummingbird, employees can make requests that further inform decision-making. For instance, they can reserve a room wherever they happen to be working, and workplace leaders can see which rooms are being used in real time and recognize usage patterns over time.

And therein lies the greatest value—a more efficient, responsive workplace.


Glenn Hicks

A member of the Business Development team, Glenn has years of experience with business process improvement on the Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Management sides.

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