As corporate real estate leaders and IT professionals face the unprecedented challenges of redefining their workplaces and planning for an uncertain future, they’re finally learning to speak each other's language through a common thread—business intelligence.
The need for real-time, actionable workplace data has become even more evident as leaders make difficult decisions related to real estate, space planning and technology.
As we forge ahead, this alliance between IT and business leaders will likely grow even stronger. In fact, half of organizations will experience increased collaboration between IT and business teams by 2022, according to Gartner.
As an IT leader, much of the burden of marrying technology and business intelligence rests on your capable shoulders. Your ability to gather workplace analytics and present them to the C-suite with recommendations will make you even more valuable to your organization in the coming months and years.
Here’s a closer look at what a successful collaboration should look like, plus five business intelligence metrics you should be measuring.
Walk into any organization in the world, and you’ll probably find some level of friction between business decision-makers and IT leaders.
IT leaders often feel like business leaders expect them to work magic — to achieve impossible tasks on ever-shrinking budgets. Meanwhile, business leaders often feel like the IT department wants to control all workplace technology without any outside input. In reality, business and IT usually work behind separate curtains and forget to share their data and ideas.
To survive this challenging business climate and outpace the competition, this has to change.
“Business units and IT teams can no longer function in silos, as distant teams can cause chaos,” said Keith Mann, senior research director at Gartner, in the recent report. “Organizations now understand that a unified objective is essential to ensure the integrity and stability of core business. As a result, individuals stay aligned with a common goal, work more collaboratively, and implement new technologies effectively across the business.”
There are three elements to successful collaboration:
Uniting IT teams and business teams around a common goal is the key to breaking down silos and fostering more effective communication. While you may already identify with the same greater organizational objectives — like enhancing efficiency, increasing workplace output, and reducing operational costs, that’s not always enough. To truly come together, your goals must be more personal with mutually beneficial outcomes.
For example, business teams are increasingly turning to AI-powered applications to improve productivity and achieve their revenue targets. But, as an IT leader, much of the burden to implement these technologies falls to you and your team. (And you already have a lot on your plate.)
To ensure sustainable success with these new applications, business professionals must develop the right skills. With this overlap, both the revenue target and the correct management of the technology will become shared missions.
When it comes to investing in new technology, it’s crucial IT and business pros make decisions together. After all, while the business team may be using the technology for their daily efforts, the IT team will be responsible for integrating the new technology into the existing infrastructure and keeping it running.
For example, if a business leader wants to invest in a new visitor management system, the IT leader needs to ensure the solution will work within the current IT environment and integrate with the company’s chat client, email solution, and lobby hardware.
Any relationship without mutual respect is doomed to fail, and the same holds true for IT and business leaders. It’s essential you take time to learn the other teams’ challenges, needs and objectives. Get to understand each other’s day-to-day, and recognize the value you each bring to the table.
Business intelligence is one of the greatest unifying elements for IT and business leaders. Business execs rely on data to inform their decisions, and IT teams can produce a lot of it — specifically when it comes to the workspace.
And as we move forward reopening workspaces, it’s going to become even more critical for leaders to amass and analyze workplace data.
Here are five metrics you should be measuring and sharing with business leaders:
Over the past several months, most employees have been working remotely, and returning to the workplace after a pandemic can be nerve-wracking. It’s important you prepare for these new behaviors and expectations, especially since some elements of physical distancing will likely remain in effect for the foreseeable future.
Space utilization gives you insight into how your space is used, including occupancy and square footage per employee. It can help you determine how you can reconfigure your floor plan for safe distancing and an increase in remote working, for instance.
Just as everyone has a “favorite” conference room (usually the one with the most natural light and reliable connection), people often have a least-favorite, too. In many cases, it’s just that the room isn’t designed to meet their needs. It might be large enough for 20 people when the majority of your workforce only needs to meet with a few people.
In fact, an analysis by architecture-engineering firm HOK found the average conference room was sitting empty for over 70% of the day. That was in 2014—long before the coronavirus pandemic forced the majority of employees to work from home. Now that many have grown accustomed to working this way, they’re not likely to return to the office in full force. They’re more likely to come in a few days a week, specifically for meetings and collaborative projects that are easier to do in person.
Gathering data on your true conference room utilization can help you better design your workplace to accommodate the changing needs of your workforce.
What is your average meeting size? How often do people reserve rooms and then cancel those reservations or forget about them entirely?
Gathering data on meeting habits will help you make sure you’re providing the right types of meeting spaces and equipment.
For example, knowing the average meeting size may help you realize you need to slice some larger conference rooms into smaller rooms to make the best use of your available space.
Pay attention to the number of meetings booked and the number of meeting cancellations, too. Although it may seem like you need additional rooms given the number of meetings scheduled each day, analyzing meeting cancellations will give you a clearer picture.
If you’re using Teem’s room scheduling software, the system will automatically make the room available again if no one checks in after a certain period of time. Your room recapture rate reflects the number of times someone else claimed that room when it would have otherwise sat empty.
This gives you more insights into your meeting habits. It’s also a simple way to measure the ROI on your software.
You know those meetings someone set up earlier this year that no one attends anymore? We call those zombie meetings—and at this point, you probably have a lot of them.
Like a zombie feeds on brains, these recurring meetings also leech valuable resources — and they can skew your space utilization data. By identifying these undead meetings, you can banish them and reclaim time and space for your workforce.
Business intelligence data is vital for both IT and business leaders. Having shared access to this data can foster more effective collaboration.
The deeper you dive into these workplace analytics, the better you can support your workforce and your corporate real estate leaders.