Many property managers mistakenly assume that:
Installing so-called smart devices in their commercial buildings can optimize everything from HVAC to lighting to spacing.
There are a few reasons why they have this defeatist view of IoT devices:
From our experience, we observed that these misconceptions about the actual impact of IoT on building operations cost property managers millions of dollars.
In this article, we will share the most common misconceptions about smart devices in commercial buildings and how you can use IoT to optimize your property management.
Note: If you’re looking for an IoT vendor that can help you optimize your commercial cleaning and save up to 35% on consumable costs, Mero is the tool you’re looking for. Book a meeting with us to learn more.
There are several ways a property management firm can waste money investing in IoT.
But most of them come down to having unrealistic expectations about what IoT can do and choosing the wrong IoT solution.
In a moment, we’ll walk through how to ensure that the tool/solution you use is practical and tailored to your needs and helps you achieve your optimization goals.
But before we do that, let’s look at some of the common mistakes property management firms make when choosing IoT solutions to work with.
This is the biggest misconception about IoT and all things “smart building.”
Most property managers think a single IoT solution can actually help save energy, automate HVAC and lighting, manage unused space and do a gazillion other things.
The result: companies get burned by spending a lot of money on general-purpose sensors that provide fancy dashboards but have no real use case.
One reason for this is that general-purpose IoT devices lack the intelligence to operate with the precision of a single-purpose IoT sensor.
To be more specific, for an IoT to be deemed useful, it must have the following four traits:
Unfortunately, most IoT sensors fail to deliver on these four tenets from the get-go.
They miss out on the data that matter, resulting in high turnover, wasted time and resources, and many other indirect consequences.
We’ve noticed that by throwing around buzzwords like smart buildings, sustainable spaces, and single pane of glass... smart building vendors have convinced most property managers that IoT is the silver bullet to all their problems.
The typical scenario is that vendors install the devices and leave property managers stranded—making them believe results will happen overnight.
The caveat, though, is that IoT per se won’t magically optimize everything in a building. Likewise, the outputs of IoT devices do not directly optimize anything in the building.
IoT sensors only provide aggregated data—and if that data is misused or misinterpreted, it can lead to huge confusion.
Let’s explain this with a straightforward example. Let’s say you decide to calculate the average number of times you need to mop your building per day to keep it clean and attractive.
You install a single pane of glass, and it stores data from all the sensors on all 25 floors of the building. The data aggregator doesn’t make any distinction between floors where there are more people—and therefore more activity—and floors where there are only 4 people.
It simply counts the traffic and steps on all floors, adds up the total steps, and divides by the number of floors.
And the self-proclaimed data expert in your office proudly announces that each floor receives an average of 1500 steps and therefore needs to be cleaned twice a day.
You’ve probably already figured out what’s wrong here.
What we’ve learned is that customers who are successful with their IoT initiatives take the output from IoT devices, work with specially trained people to take that output, and distill it into information for their building.
So, no, IoT is not going to magically transform the way you and your staff work in buildings.
You need someone who can crunch the numbers and translate them into meaningful insights that bring optimal results instead of draining more resources from you.
Anyone, anywhere, can install a sensor and get an output. However, that output is only a subset of what you need to get your desired result.
A significant amount of your desired results depend on how the output is processed and interpreted—and this is where niche expertise is key.
To be specific, not all data is created equal.
There are four layers of data that IoT sensors output, and analyzing that data requires years of accumulated experience and niche expertise.
Here is how these layers of data are utilized:
1 - Descriptive Analytics
This data type is oriented toward what is happening. It lets specialists determine if things are going as planned and alerts them if certain events occur.
It helps them address questions such as:
2 - Diagnostic Analytics
This data type helps justify why something is happening. Specialists use it to identify deep-seated problems and fix processes.
It helps answer questions such as:
3 - Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics helps predict with accuracy what is going to happen.
Specialists use it to answer questions like:
4 - Prescriptive analytics
This data helps determine what actions should be taken to avoid or solve a problem in the building.
It makes it easy to answer questions such as :
It takes more than just knowing how to manipulate data to make good use of your IoT devices.
At Mero, we’ve noticed that to get to this advanced level of insight, you need:
That’s why, from the outset, we have built a team of experts in the sector. We are not just a technology company, and our team has specialized knowledge in the real estate, commercial cleaning, and cleaning sectors.
This knowledge is put to good use when it comes to presenting data in a way that is both comfortable and clear for every property manager.
Note that this process may differ depending on the type of sensor or department you want to optimize.
In this typical case, this step-by-step guide just covers how Mero’s sensors can be used to optimize the cleaning process in commercial buildings.
In commercial real estate, no two things are ever the same:
So, it would just be inappropriate to implement an IoT initiative in your properties just because you read on the internet that it can help optimize your costs.
A good rule is to define the status quo and determine the state of play.
For example, when global real estate investment firm QuadReal wanted to identify areas to optimize its properties, we didn’t rush to install sensors and leave them on their own.
We installed a sensor for a few months to monitor a baseline of what their cleaners were doing without the Mero alert system.
This gave us historical data on how things were working and guided us on areas that could use optimization.
You may be somewhat shocked that we list this as one of the steps you need to take to get a positive ROI from your IoT initiative.
Well, that’s because most property managers get this part wrong.
For example, if you are asked about your goal with this IoT initiative, would you say:
2. “We want to optimize our cleaning process”.
In either case, there's something missing.
In fact, “optimize your cleaning process” can mean many things:
That’s why using historical data from the previous step is crucial.
It actually gives you a holistic view of the current state of things. Then you can use that data to improve your process and align it with your company’s business objectives.
Going back to our example with Quadreal... we found that cleaners often threw away 50 or even 60% of a roll every time they entered the restroom. Because the restrooms were so busy at the time, they never really knew the best time to enter.
By using this routine cleaning, they were focused solely on making sure the tenants didn’t find anything empty by preemptively throwing away excellent supplies.
As a result, they were wasting a lot of money and usable supplies.
So, once we had this data, our goal was to:
(Notice how specific these goals are. )
We can’t overstate this:
In other words, data is only useful if it solves real-world problems.
And that’s where Mero makes the difference.
From day one, we made it our business goal to help property managers achieve supply savings.
The one metric you should be interested in is that we’ll help you save up to 35% on cleaning supplies (paper rolls, soap, etc.).
So, after identifying areas that need improvement, we use historical data from our IoT devices to guide you on what actions to implement to achieve better results.
For example, almost immediately after activating Mero’s alert system, QuadReal routed out cleaners on a just-in-time basis.
They were able to save a 35-40% difference on consumables that would otherwise go to landfills. The cost-benefit ratio can be as high as $350,000 for the entire building.
If your goal is to streamline your processes and costs across all departments all at once, then you’re better off with a general-purpose IoT device.
But if you’re looking for an IoT solution that:
Mero is what you are looking for. We have over 10,000+ sensors installed across 100+ buildings, and we pride ourselves on helping our clients save $100k+ per building.
Want to know more? Book a meeting with us today.