Internet Of Things

Connected devices present huge opportunities for real estate

Put simply, Internet of Things (IoT) is the collective term for all devices or objects that are connected to the internet. Increasingly, IoT is thought of as a network of ‘things’ that enables the aggregation of data at a hyper-personal level. The outcome is the ability to fine-tune processes to deliver more tailored, and increasingly automated outcomes. IoT is also the term used to describe the connection between devices, for example, between your smart phone and your smart thermometer at home. In 2016, roughly 17.6 billion devices were connected to the internet. This could jump to roughly 80 billion internet connected devices by 2025.

One of the key attributes of IoT that often gets overlooked is that with more ’sensors’ / devices / things connected to the internet, the more diverse the dataset that’s produced. This is important in relation to robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) – IoT has the ability to produce the data that fuels RPA and improves the artificial intelligence of machines and computers.

In a commercial real estate context, IoT is often thought of in the context of Smart Buildings and Smart Cities but the opportunities of IoT extend far beyond these concepts.

Lisa Seacat DeLuca is a Technology Strategist for IBM Commerce. She is the most prolific female inventor in IBM history, her innovation portfolio includes over 700 patent applications filed within the US and abroad, of which, 250 have been granted, to date.

We asked Lisa what impact IoT will have on our future - from buildings to Rhinos, Lisa shares some thought provoking insights.

Benefits of the IoT

  • Producing more data from diverse data sets: Deploying more sensors across assets and portfolios can generate an exponential increase in the amount of data at investor and occupier disposal
  • Personalising end-user experiences: Connecting end-user devices (e.g. smart phones, wearable technology) to asset or portfolio infrastructure enables the ability to tailor personal experiences for employees and customers
  • Ability for more granular automation: At the moment, automation is possible at reasonably broad and unspecific levels. With more data generated and integrated by IoT, the ability to automate at a hyper-personal level is possible
  • Ability to fine-tune the accuracy and efficiency of building and portfolio processes: Sensors on building equipment and facilities (especially when deployed at portfolio level) gives asset and facilities managers greater control of operations, reducing delayed decision-making and enabling more specific action

How IoT enhances productivity

In the long-run, an asset filled with IoT sensors will be able to achieve more accurate valuations, as the history of how buildings have been used is documented far more precisely and in real time. This is part of the transition from traditional to modern valuation methods.

IoT data that’s aggregated into a portfolio level, will give landlord and occupier portfolio managers a lot more granular view of all of the assets that they own. The benefit of this is greater visibility of the true performance of their assets which can drive more insight-led action.

Josh Artus Consultancy Director of CentricLab shares his thoughts on the interaction of people, spaces, services and technology, and how end users are impacting real estate like never before.

CentricLab is a life sciences company using neuroscience to understand people in their environments.

How IoT enhances efficiency

IoT’s greatest immediate benefit is in the operation of buildings. If IoT sensors installed in buildings feed data into a data lake, then the possibility for making more efficient operational decisions is clear. In partnership with RPA or even AI, buildings can become more self-sufficient in the intelligent insights they deliver.

IoT can transform and optimise your facilities management schedule. 76% of COOs have reported that increasing automation in facility and asset management will help optimise operational efficiency.  

How IoT enhances experience

IoT connected devices and objects can enable more tailored end-user experiences, which is important in the context of the flexible, agile workplace of the future. These products will range from occupant navigation apps to tailored food and beverage recommendations. The aims this satisfies are improving the tenant attraction of assets, and helping people be more productive and effective.

In the more immediate future, consumer spending on IoT will still dominate other market sectors, so end-users need to be considered in that context. If employees will increasingly be buying their own wearable devices (indeed many already have smartphones that connect to the IoT) then this could limit the need for capex for IoT initiatives from occupiers and investors alike.

What you need to consider

  • The security issues are real, so plan and execute proper protocols: With more devices connected to the internet, this opens up the potential for security breaches. Developing business cases for IoT has to be done in tandem with developing proper security protocols.
  • Who owns the sensors, who owns the data? There are still big questions as to who, investors or occupiers, should be installing IoT programmes, and who as a consequence owns the data IoT produces. 
  • IoT can produce lots of data, but you still need technical expertise to draw conclusions: IoT is only useful if the data it can generate is used to develop real insight. IoT initiatives therefore must build in the right data infrastructure for technical analysis to be carried out.
  • It’s not all about technology, you must have people too for great experiences: Even though IoT consumer apps can deliver more tailored experiences, they can’t do it all on their own. If wayfinding and workplace apps can automate recommendations for much of an employee’s day, the human ‘concierge’ style service is also critical to developing a well-rounded experience.
  • Be aggressive in number of IoT applications: Don’t be afraid to test IoT initiatives! Research has shown that greater financial impact is achieved with an increasing number of IoT use cases. Too little, and there’ll be no financial impact.

What CBRE has been reading

  • 85% of firms plan to implement IoT solutions, proving that B2B business case is easier to prove than the B2C one Forrester, 2018
  • The growth in the number of connected ‘cellular’ devices has grown at a compound rate of 33% since 2013. This continued growth requires new types of telecoms infrastructure Ericsson, 2019
  • What’s the potential for smart buildings and why are they so important for the future of our cities? Forbes, 2018
  • How does your industry compare to others in their attitude towards AI? Forbes, 2018
  • “Data is the fuel that powers the IoT and the organization’s ability to derive meaning from it will define their long-term success” Gartner, 2018
  • Three case studies for IoT deployment across facilities management, real estate and asset management, IBM, 2018

Find out more - contact us To find out how CBRE can help you identify IOT opportunities, contact CBRE's James Pearson – or call +44 7880 054 252