Meet The Minds – TECHNOLOGY, BUILDING, BIG DATA, IoT…. Wait a second, it is about people – By Martijn Traa

It’s no longer a nicety to have a random set of smart building applications.
A smart environment is one where technology works in tandem with people and continues to evolve in line with their needs. 


Let’s take a look at IoT, a hot topic among the smart building community. The Internet of Things “IoT”, allows employees to connect to each other and to their surroundings easily. As a result, employees’ collaboration and productivity increases. Simultaneously, all facets of the buildings the employees occupy are readied for reconfiguration in order to generate a more relevant and effective workspace. This, in the end then leads to significant cost-savings. Sounds pretty sophisticated and yet perhaps a little “Big Brother is Watching You” ish, we understand.

Of course, the above-described scenario is the ideal. Some people may say that we’re all dreamers, and critiques may hold the opinion that this kind of holistic approach where everything is integrated and connected, which is redefining what we mean with a smart space, is long overdue. The biggest problem, however, is that over the course of prior years the “smart” label has been used loosely and carelessly just to enhance any business narrative and therefore has lost its true meaning.

Many organizations forget to look at “smart” technologies as a complex technology that functions almost like an ecosystem with human functioning at the centre of this intricate system. And so, despite good intentions and generous budgets, the focus when trying to evolve into a smart building becomes too narrow, pressure is put on the organisation to get along on this trend of digitalization and as a result key errors are made around basic implementation which ultimately thwarts success.


Don’t get me wrong. The concept “smart building” is about technologies and software first and foremost. Yet, the key component to making smart building technologies work together effectively is the ability of technology to understand human behaviour. Almost like a form of empathy. Today, applying a piecemeal, ad hoc approach to smart technology is a common pitfall. The critical element that is missing is an overarching system which is able to make sense of the way that the end-user engages and interacts with the building.

Many organisations deploy truly intelligent systems placed into discreet silos where no one can find them, solely functioning at an infrastructure or even just an operational level. This results in critical data being collected in a singular fashion to resolve singular issues causing them to become redundant. Why? Well because data does not mean anything when it is viewed individually instead of in the context of a whole building “ecosystem”. Think of it as baking a cake, if you take away the eggs and put in solely the milk flour and sugar you will never end up with a nice dessert  And so again, More often than not, the humanistic element that is absolutely essential to creating a truly smart, engaging environments is seen as the lowest priority or in some instances even as an ingrediënt that can just be skipped.

A building is only able to become really smart when all data works in collaboration to make the environment more engaging, employees more productive and work more efficiently. This requires continual two-way interactivity and an overarching system to make sense of the dispersed data input. At the heart of true smart-technology, we find a connected human-centric strategy.

A Smart environment, a human-centric environment

The “smart” arena can come to feel as a hard to cross minefield for time-strapped and cost-conscious businesses trying to implement smart technologies. With the increasing number of organisations that are looking to maximise their office spaces more effectively, to increase efficiencies, and to foster workforce productivity and retention, causes the need to transform business practices. The need for transformation is becoming paramount.

The Smart thinkers can no longer be confined to energy efficiencies, lighting and security; detailed knowledge and strategy is critical to creating a functional smart ecosystem.

A smart environment is one where technology works in tandem with people and continues to evolve in line with their needs. Notably, a human-centric ethos permeates all propositions. Only with this synergy does our own 12CU software have the foundations to cause broader organizational change and the means to affect the way that people work.

By creating a sustainable Smart eco-system you do not only bring greater efficiency and convenience to your working place, but it can even have a great impact on your employee’s overall well-being. The “Smart” will become a central tool in the retention and productivity of talent because people will be working in a human-centric environment supported by technology.

If you could describe a truly connected, smart environment as a sum of parts, making the initially described vision work in practice involves addressing the challenge of integrating all elements into one cohesive, single software platform. Drawing and integrating information from a variety of Big Data sources, while making sure stringent security controls are in place, requires a scalable underlying architecture that is agile and ready to adapt to the changing behaviours of human beings.

The solution to meeting these growing demands is found in software solutions such as our own. Organisations that want to take control of their real estate, while supporting their connected employees, and attracting and retaining the best talent, need to have holistic smart technologies and strategies in place for their buildings. It’s no longer a nicety to have a random set of smart building applications. A sustainable, human-centric It has become a necessity in today’s business world.

Meet the Minds – Digital Natives are changing the way we work, NOW WHAT? – By Ed Kooijman

If you are the leader of a company, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: your ability to attract and retaining Digital Natives is critical for the survival of your company.


This week was my turn to write a Meet the Minds article. So let me start by introducing myself! My name is Ed Kooijman, head of operations ar 12CU. The reason why I am so interested in Smart Building Technologies is that Smart Building Technologies is all about developing tools that help us understand human behaviour and the way we work and as individuals and as a whole ecosystem in offices. I have worked in IT and Supply Chain for over 25 years internationally. I guess you could say I am a veteran in the IT sector. Above all I am future-oriented and so my choice for the subject of this article was simple. Always, when something new makes its appearance, my first question is: can you show me?!

I wanted to write a response to our own Digital Native’s piece by posing the following question:


In order to avoid the discussion whether the generation entering our corporations qualifies exactly as a Digital Native, the least can agree on is that the generation now entering our corporations, workspaces and teams is the generation who consider online media as their main source for information, they see new media as a perfectly normal channel to build relationships on and their tech Saffy workstyle allows for virtual teamwork easily. Ten years from now, Digital Natives will form the backbone of our organizations and many traditional organizations will have digitally native leaders.


In what type of companies will these employees be working anyway? Nearly three out of four of the Fortune 1,000 companies have been replaced in the last 10 years, and more than half of the Fortune 500 will cease to exist in the next decade.

Future-oriented organizations are trying to get nimbler, increasingly turning to on-demand workers to fulfil specific needs. Future-oriented organizations have increasingly prioritized designing entrepreneurial and flexible cultures that empower employees with more autonomy and more freedom of choice in order to attract and retaining the right talent (JLL, 2018 World Forum). Who do we mean when we say “The right talent”, well that’s simple: we are talking about the Digital Natives.


If you are the leader of a company, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: your ability to attract and retaining Digital Natives is critical for the survival of your company.  My guess is that you better get prepared early rather than late when it comes to adopting your company to these new entrepreneurial and flexible cultures.

Already in 2012, Marie Puybaraud from JLL’s research identified the needs of this new generation of workers :

  1. BYOT – Bring your own technology: Digital Natives are comfortable bringing their personal equipment to the office, such as laptops, iPads, and smartphones.
  2. Always connected: The use of light portable and mobile technologies allows for a high level of mobility and efficiency in the workplace.
  3. No loss of transition from home to work: The smooth integration of technologies while in the office, such as WiFi access, booking systems, and 3G video conferencing, will allow workers to easily transition work from the office to their homes.
  4. Consumer technologies in the office: Where possible, organizations should move away from corporate IT solutions to consumer-friendly ones to adapt to the use of employees’ personal technologies and devices in the workplace.
  5. Social networking-friendly solutions: Allow workers to build and maintain a social network while at work to share knowledge and foster communities.
  6. Collaborative solutions: Provide solutions that allow workers to collaborate with one another wherever they are, at any time.


How can we implement this in such a way you can build it into your company’s culture, office and working environments. Let’s brainstorm for a bit, by looking at some extremes.

One extreme: having no office at all. You work where best suits you and your team, this could literally be any location. Already today, some software development teams or product development teams go to (sometimes exotic) locations to develop a product in a pressure cooker type environment. Great fun and hard work.

Another extreme: create a 100% versatile office. The office has a fixed location but is adjusted permanently, depending on need. Month by month, size, zoning and services adapt to needs. You still have the benefits of strong (corporate) IT infrastructure, e.g. for secure data access. Traditional offices of many corporations are gradually transitioning in this direction.

Or how about this one: Lets mix and match Office and public space. Parts of the building are for public use, eg. shops, childcare, coffee bars. Other parts are for employees only, or mixed zones where guests are able to work in a more formal environment with more advanced services. You already see examples of this in the newly designed head-offices of organizations opening their doors in downtown areas.


The common issue in all these situations is planning. All this flexibility increases the need to have the predictive capability for (a type of) office use. Traditionally we plan using spreadsheets and have facility managers work out future office needs. That won’t suffice here. We will have to predict office needs based on behavioural patterns. The best prediction of how we behave in the future is how we behave in the present.   For example, the question: when do we go to work? The answer depends on whether we have young children or not, whether we live nearby, our hobbies, type of work, age, means of transportation, weather and so on.  

When you understand how behaviour translates to office use, you can start building the predictive models linking those triggers to workspace needs. This is a complex task but fortunately, these models are now constructed using machine learning. In practice, 12CU software is already doing this for you. You install the machine learning algorithms. Day by day, 12CU Office Analyzer will gather office traffic data and built a predictive model matching the behaviour of the buildingś occupants. Sounds like a far in the future type of scenario? Well, It has just begun.

12CU Office Analytics. Real-time. Big Data. Simple.