Bringing PropTech to SMEs

by | 26 Feb 2021

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking at the round table for SMEs, a regular thought exchange session for members of the Advanced Services Group. The ASG run a centre of excellence on advanced services producing research and providing education for companies of all sizes. As part of their regular SME roundtable, I was able to impart my knowledge on the topic of Leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) for Servitization. 

That is a lot of technical speak for one sentence right, let’s break it down. 

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? 

This is the network of objects that exchange information over the internet through the use of technology like sensors and software. 

What is Servitization? 

Servitization is where companies can sell an, often digitally enhanced, service around their products and frequently comes as part of a new business model focused on outcome as a service.  

How Spica developed our advanced services 

At Spica we have seen a lot of our customers put this into action over the last few years, using our GemEx and Luna products and their integrations to new hardware and software technologies to provide new innovative digitally enabled services. This includes new services around things like environment management, cleaning and even IoT network management.  

I talked with the attendees about some of our experiences in setting up and running these kinds of transformation projects, using our experience developing our focused Smart Cleaning solution as an example, for which we were really proud to win the Best International Impact in Services award last year

We developed the smart cleaning solution in tandem with our customers, following an interactive improvement project approach.  

Smart Cleaning Solution in GemEx Engine workplace experience platform using IoT

What is Smart Cleaning? 

Smart cleaning takes data from sensors in spaces such as rooms, bins, dispensers and applies them to your building’s digital twin in GemEx. Cleaning staff are alerted to areas that need attention through a dedicated app. This digitally aided demand-based cleaning increases service efficiency but also gives reports to evidence improvements in service quality for contract obligations and reassurance.

What we learned 

There were definitely a lot of new insights and interesting findings along the way: 

Finding the right IoT tech 

When starting the project we needed to identify the right technology that would support the solution, we knew we wanted to use IoT hardware to gain a real-time understanding of how the workspace was being used, so we could feed that information directly to cleaning staff, allowing them to deliver a dynamic service.  

Further considerations 

We had a consider a number of things as part of this evaluation: 

  • Supplier status: IoT is a fairly new industry with a lot of new players, having a supplier we trusted and could meet our supply requirements was key. 
  • Installation: As we were working in an existing space we needed retro-fit devices that from a look & feel perspective fit into the environment. 
  • Quality levels: We tested everything from security and connectivity to robustness and ease of use. 
  • Accuracy: Lab testing is never an adequate substitute for real world testing and it’s always a challenge to predict how people will really interact with things. For example, we had buttons for employees to report a problem which functioned really well but because they couldn’t provide real-time feedback that the problem was addressed, employees didn’t have confidence in using them. 

Implementing it right 

After identifying the core components of the solution we had to work through what a digitally enhanced service really looked like and how best to implement it. There was just as much time spent on the project correctly implementing the solution as developing it. We found it was helpful to: 

  • Build this into the way the project was run, doing early trials and making iterative improvements to optimise on the best outcomes. 
  • Ensure we had clearly defined KPIs from the start, so we could track and demonstrate success across all stakeholders, hearts and minds are always important when implementing change. 
  • Choose the right scaling at each stage of the trials, too small and we wouldn’t be able to demonstrate success, too large and we introduce risk early and find it hard to focus in on the right learnings. 

Bringing PropTech to SMEs 

It was a great interactive session with the attendees and really interesting to hear some of their thoughts on where digital servitisation projects might take them. We also touched on everything from new business models to growth opportunities and I hope providing some of our insights from similar projects will really help them taking the next steps. Alongside the ASG it was a fantastic opportunity to break down the barriers to understanding PropTech and the Internet of Things for SMEs.  

We work with companies from all sectors and are developing solutions for organisations of different sizes. If you want to find out more about PropTech and bringing digital solutions to your workplace, visit our contact page to book a demo or no obligation consultation with our Digital Workplace Consultants