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11 May 2021
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Haran Shivanan

11 May 2021

The Composable Workplace

What is a composable workplace?

Suppose you have invested in some software to let your staff schedule meetings and utilize meeting rooms easily.

Maybe you have Office365 and use Exchange for booking resources. Or maybe your company runs on G-Suite and you use Google Calendar. Everyone can now book meetings and see when the room is free. No more fighting for rooms or marking them with paper on the door. Maybe you have gone a step further and invested in a more sophisticated meeting system – Robinpowered or Condeco.

You have a nice tablet outside the room and a mobile app for people to use. You can get some good reports on your room utilization. This is useful because rooms are expensive and you need to know how well they are used. It shows you that the room near the lobby is almost completely utilized – great! But every time you walk by you can see that it’s empty. You stop to check out the calendar and see that it is indeed booked. But nobody’s inside. You check with the host and he says he had to cancel since a few people couldn’t come.

Why wasn’t the room booking canceled? Well, it was a last-minute thing and he had another presentation to attend to. So nobody else can use the room since it’s booked, but not really booked, so it’s essentially wasted space.

You can also see that some rooms can hold 20 people but only 5 are present. Your room booking system isn’t going to give you any information to help you find this out.

The next logical thing to do is to install occupancy sensors., so now you know how many people actually came for meetings, or whether the room is actually booked or not. Your occupancy sensor came with a nice fancy dashboard to show you visually how areas are occupied. But it doesn’t tell you about your room bookings., and your booking system doesn’t know anything about sensors.

You could alternatively use access card data to determine how many people came and went. But that system doesn’t talk to your meeting room system either.

You have all these nice systems in place but they can’t talk to each other. Maybe your booking system has an out-of-the-box integration to a specific set of access card systems, but not the one you have, or it does but doesn’t give you the reports you want – it only lets you provision cards based on who’s invited for meetings.

Your only solution is to build some kind of integration that combines data from these three systems together.

While you’re at it – maybe you can eliminate last-minute cancellations by asking the host to confirm a booking a little while before it’s scheduled. And maybe you can turn off the ACs if nobody is actually in the room so you can save energy.

To get these integrations running you need:

  • APIs and developer credentials from the systems you are connecting to
  • Time from a developer (if you have an in-house team you need to find someone you can pull out of something else, or you need to outsource it)
  • Infrastructure to run these integrations – probably running on cloud somewhere
  • Maybe you need to get additional systems connected like a messaging system to let hosts confirm meetings and connectors to your building system to control the ACs and lights.
  • And finally you need to build the reports and dashboards you need to see exactly what’s going on.

And if you decide to update your scheduling system to something else you may have to redo these steps again.
That’s a lot of time and effort in maintaining a smart solution for your meeting rooms.

Composability

Let’s talk about composability. This is a pretty powerful concept and you see it in many places without realizing it.

What makes Legos so addictive? It gives you some basic building blocks and the mechanism to join them together in many ways and combinations. Minecraft is the world’s most popular game because of its composability. It gives you the basic building blocks and lets you build entire worlds, limited by only your creativity.

Unix is the world’s most powerful operating system because of its composability. It’s made up of an ecosystem of small modular programs that do one thing well and let you chain them together to create powerful solutions.

The Composable Workplace

What if your workplace could also be composable? If it could be broken down into modular bits, and more importantly, can be easily combined in different ways to produce useful outcomes?
If this were possible, it would be unlock the following:

  • The ability to swap out components easily so you can upgrade different parts of your workplace at different points in time. Your ‘smart cooling’ system may currently just send a reminder to someone to turn on the AC. Tomorrow it can automatically turn on and off the chillers on an optimized schedule.
  • The ability to introduce new ideas and tear down old ones. Because you have some basic building blocks to play with – it becomes straightforward to connect them together in new ways and experiment with new solutions and new user experiences.

Finding the right technology to enable composability

This all sounds good in theory. But if this was so simple why hasn’t it already been done?

Turns out – there are a lot of roadblocks to achieving this kind of composable ecosystem. You need to know how to be able to integrate different kinds of systems together, not just different products.

You need expertise in enterprise applications, cloud services, control systems and IoT devices because your workplace will cut across all of these. Most solution providers only have experience in one or two of these.

Apart from having the knowledge on how to properly integrate these kinds of systems, you also need a healthy ecosystem of connectors.

Connectors are the magic glue that lets you snap these blocks together to create the solutions. Creating connectors for popular cloud services is the easy part. Everyone can do that. But you also need connectors to legacy applications, to your room booking tablet, space management system that is deployed on-premise, to legacy SCADA protocols because that’s probably what your building uses.

And finally, to wrap it all together, you need provide a good user experience on top of all of this. Integrations aren’t useful unless you can surface them up to the users in a way that is meaningful and easy for them to use

You could probably stitch together a solution by taking bits from different places and getting the right people on board and putting together a bespoke solution – But you lose the composability and ability to re-compose these on your own.

What you really want is a platform that encompasses all of these things and makes it easy.

This is why we built Lucy. Lucy is the world’s first platform for composable workplaces.

Take it for a spin or call us on for a demo.

Recent Blog Post

11 May 2021

The Composable Workplace