One System for All: How an OS Manages Complexity for CRE

How a CRE Operating System Manages Building Complexity | HqO
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ever since the onset of the digital revolution — which began with the invention of the Internet, various mobile devices, social networking, big data, and computing clouds — technology experts across the world have been working towards the next big digital breakthrough. We’ve seen this play out in a variety of industries; healthcare has been completely revolutionized through state-of-the-art technologies and refined work practices, personal communication devices have evolved to the point where we all carry high-tech computers in the palm of our hands, and even retail experiences have witnessed a complete overturn in how and where we shop. 

Such drastic changes, which occurred over a relatively short period of time, now seem easy and seamless to the public eye. Consumers never needed to think about how things worked, they just did. However, behind every great innovation was a group of people who had to adapt to a changing landscape and learn through trial and error to launch and carry their product’s success.

We’re now looking at a similar digital revolution in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry — office buildings are steadily becoming the next great computing platform. With growing numbers of proptech partners and services available in the market, it’s important that we reflect on what this means for the corporate CIOs and CTOs who are suddenly facing an advanced technology landscape. What matters most when it comes to navigating the uncertain waters of new technology partners, and how can we streamline these processes to alleviate the burdens associated with procurement and implementation?

Extending the Building Computer

In addition to business IT, we’ve seen a steady influx of technology solutions for CRE operational areas such as security, transportation, communications, commerce, amenities management, energy, logistics, health, and maintenance.

Most importantly, thousands of people come together to interact with these systems and one another each day, all carrying highly-advanced mobile computing devices. Because of this, tenant experience technologies are providing a bridge through which people in the built world are digitally connected to their physical office environment — a fluid and demanding extension to the “building computer.”

As proptech trends and needs continue to expand, property teams face increasing workloads to manage the complexities of these technologies and the inevitability of rising consumer expectations. Just some of the exciting adventures that await include vendor selection, licensing and renewals, configuration, user management, consumer privacy, data leakage, SLA management, support variations, compliance reviews, and at some point the cost and disruption of vendor switching.

Now re-enter the thousands of mobile tech-enabled consumers. Many human-to-building system interactions are not naturally siloed. Consider the following experience:

A tenant registers a group of visitors who will attend a meeting in a shared conference room provided by the building and reserved for the host. The visitors may be granted temporary restricted digital access and wayfinding will guide them to the conference room. They will arrive to meet their host and find that the room’s lighting and temperature controls have been engaged and pre-ordered snacks and beverages have been delivered.

We’ve now entered the realm of the integrated and interoperable, where complexities don’t add — they multiply. Some example implications are as follows:

  • User management now becomes a cross-system issue. Single Sign-On (SSO) products can standardize authentication, but each vendor will have its own proprietary authorization scheme (i.e., roles and permissions).
  • Integrations may form multi-way dependencies; bonds that are much harder to break and replace thereby drive up vendor switching costs.
  • Holistic analytics requires data to not only be format-standardized, but transformed for semantic equivalence (e.g., “my X means the same as your Y”).

The key to getting this under control is complexity management. There is a ubiquitous concept in computing that speaks directly to this goal: the operating system (OS). Whether it powers a mobile device, a laptop, or a server, the prime directive of any OS is to abstract away the enormous complexities of the underlying system and provide standard and streamlined methods of user security, user interface, data storage, communications, resource sharing, and most importantly, application execution.

Leveraging HqOS™: CRE’s First Operating System

The OS concept has always guided HqO’s unique approach to tenant experience. From our earliest days, HqO developed a platform for its functional ecosystem eschewing any resemblance to simple navigation apps in favor of deep integrations with leading solutions providers. These require standards-based methods that compress activation times, normalize user experiences, avoid multi-way dependencies, minimize switching costs, and enable the capture of rich data for building use analytics.

Our platform and mobile app model, alongside a marketplace for finding and configuring these apps into white-labeled tenant experience products, an enterprise-grade user authorization model, and a cadre of analytics tools, all coalesce into our recently announced HqOS — the first end-to-end operating system for office buildings. Property teams can now manage all customer-facing technology tools within their buildings, while remaining empowered to activate real connections between people and their properties with digital-to-physical experiences, data-driven decision making, and fast implementation of innovative asset strategies.

To make the user-experience even easier, these layers connect seamlessly within our HqOS Headquarters, a desktop command center where property teams can do everything from daily content creation to strategic technology planning. Property teams can now rapidly deploy and configure data-driven tenant engagement strategies across their portfolio — with absolutely no coding required. Together, these features expand on our goal to provide CRE leaders with the flexibility, efficiency, and intelligence required to operate a modern portfolio. 

Ultimately, this type of approach proves critical to addressing the mounting complexities brought on by ever-increasing consumer expectations, as the sophistication of buildings continues to expand in CRE’s new digital era.

For more information about how an OS can manage complexity for your portfolio, schedule a demo today.


About the Author: Dr. Jim Butler serves as Chief Technology Officer of HqO; the tenant experience operating system for commercial office buildings. Prior to HqO, Jim was CTO of Global Supply Platforms for Verizon Media, stemming from the acquisitions of Millennial Media and Nexage, and as Co-Chair of the IAB/OpenRTB standards body for real-time digital media commerce. Prior to Nexage, Jim held various CTO and architecture roles at matchmine, eCredit, EC Cubed, Americal Management Systems, and Raytheon Company, in addition to a wide range of consulting activities. He is the author of numerous technical publications and two granted patents in the area of reliable web service architecture. Jim holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, a Masters in Computer Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a BSEE Magna Cum Laude from the University of Lowell.

Enjoy the article? Feel free to share it.