There is a hot new technology buzzword being talked about these days: the “Internet of Things.” Maybe you’ve heard of it?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been mentioned in articles within almost every industry imaginable, and it is picking up steam within our magical world of commercial real estate. In fact, it was said that “IoT deployment in commercial buildings will continue to grow at a rapid pace over the next few years, and is on pace to reach just over 1 billion in 2018,” in a Gartner press release published late last year.

Sounds great! But if someone were to stop and ask you what the Internet of Things is, and how it could help your property management team, would you be able to answer?

Probably not. (And that’s not your fault!) If we have learned anything from the slow tech adoption rate in CRE, it is that communicating the benefits (and risks) of technology is crucial to adoption.

The fact is, it is difficult to communicate the benefits of the IoT because it isn’t a tangible technology – it is a concept. So let’s start from there.

Breaking down the concept of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a series of internet-connected devices that can collect and exchange data.

You’ve likely already encountered some of these devices and didn’t even know it! Have you heard of Philips Hue? Nest? Fitbit? How about AppLink for Ford vehicles? Each of these is an example of a consumer IoT device.

Why? They’re all ways of connecting “dumb” everyday objects to the internet, while giving you new ways to interact with them.

The Internet of Things + CRE

The heart of the Internet of Things is connection, and the majority of IoT implementations already in place within commercial buildings typically aim to connect property owners, managers (and sometimes even tenants) to data insights generated from routine everyday activities.

These activities might include interactions with building HVAC, office lights and electrical systems, determining whether there are open spaces in your parking garage, elevator use, security devices for guest management…the list goes on and on.

For property managers and property management teams, building-based Internet of Things devices might help you identify performance trends and directly connect them to actions that help you achieve tenant service delivery goals in new, innovative ways. The IoT can connect you to data-driven, performance-based insights into aspects of your property that you have traditionally had little to no data on.

You can think of it as an actionable insight generator, not too much unlike other established CRE tech (like Building Engines Property Management Software). The difference being that they hone in on performance data that is very specific to the “dumb” device that they are connected to.

Does that mean that IoT devices will replace traditional CRE tech? No, that is unlikely.

If anything, it adds value to the tools you already use. In fact, integrations between the IoT and platforms like Building Engines are already happening to do things like manage visitor access.

Here is a great quote from an early CRE Tech Talks podcast we did on the IoT with Tom Shircliff and Rob Murchison of Intelligent Buildings:

“When there’s change, it requires a response, or you continue to build up risk.”

We’ll be continuing to dive deep into how the Internet of Things will affect commercial property management, but maybe now is the time to start thinking about how you’ll respond to this new wave of CRE technology and integrations.

Are you excited about the prospect of the IoT in CRE?

Let us know, by tweeting us @BuildingEngines, and stay tuned for more investigation into how the Internet of Things relates to property managers and property management!