The Leader Magazine

MAR 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 55

solution – the tool we developed to allow us to actively see the utilization of every site across our 45-million- square-foot (4.2-million-sq.-m.) portfolio. What began with gathering simple badge data in 2015 evolved to include a constellation of technologies that gathered information with more precision than had been achieved to date. The outcome? From the data, we concluded that the building could serve 700 employees at 400 work- stations. We moderated the size of the new building, known as Microsoft House, from 16,000 to 7,000 square meters (172,223 to 75,348 sq. ft.), while main- taining its striking glass structure in the heart of Milan. We designed spaces within the building tailored to the group sizes the employees most often gathered in. Almost at once, the vibe in the building became more energized. Following this project, we applied the new technology to the new Microsoft office in Nashville, re- ducing employee space and enlarging customer space, just like the data told us. We discovered many things from these projects – among them, that we had historically built our workplaces an average of 20 percent larger than nec- essary. We also found that this type of data gathering is not cost prohibitive. In the past, the only way to gather information about employee space usage was to flood buildings with sensors, which starts to get very expen- sive on large corporate portfolios. By contrast, space utilization operates on technologies most companies already have in place: an Internet connection, a wire- less infrastructure, a security system, an application with data on employee names and organizational affili- ation, and a building-management system that knows how many employees are assigned to a space. How does it work? Through an intricate choreog- raphy involving the cloud, machine learning, analytics, and sociometric data. From the moment an employee swipes a security badge to enter a building, the data gathering begins. That employee's phone or other devices – the average Microsoft employee carries 2.8 devices, from phones to laptops to wearables – con- nect to the network multiple times, thereby providing multiple data points on which areas are being used, and for how long. Microsoft Azure cloud comput- ing processes hundreds of millions of data points per week. Machine learning, over time, enables a more precise detailed overview of building usage than other methods have provided. We can learn the peak numbers of people in a given building, the most densely populated areas, even employees' aggregated movement through the space. Privacy, of course, is a real concern. That's why the European Union's governance model, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), effectively mandates complete data transparency worldwide. So when our harvested data are aggregated at group level, it is deidentified and obscured to protect privacy. Groups that have low numbers of employees are further aggregated together to ensure employee information t H e le A de R MARCH 2018 29

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Leader Magazine - MAR 2018