When Cloud Companies Build Towers, Tech Transfers into Real Estate

Salesforce Tower is expected to be the tallest U.S. building west of Chicago when completed in 2017.

Salesforce Tower, a new, 61-story project at 415 Mission Street in San Francisco, won’t be open and occupied until sometime in 2017, but its influence on top-end office properties is already being felt.  Jim Whalen SVP & CIO of Boston Properties, co-developer of the tower, explained the tech transfer phenomena in a RealComm panel discussion yesterday: You can replay the event by following this link.

“Our building of the Salesforce Tower has been an extraordinary opportunity to integrate and take in innovations. When you operate within tech-minded metro markets like San Francisco, Boston, Manhattan, your IT strategy has to be aligned with real-estate expectations there.  You need to stay ahead of that curve. Then as an IT leader, you take that IT discipline into the facilities culture.  The earlier you embrace it, the more ahead of the curve you’ll be.

“The move to IP is dynamic, and IoT is not stopping. The movement to a data culture is a journey. I see it as a stack. The enablers are mobile telecom, analytics, the consumerization of technology. We’re able to influence and drive that stack across our properties.  We didn’t see this in the last cycle. We’re always pushing our partners to embrace these innovations too. We want our partners to think about the technology stack in the earliest phases of design of a building, and we’re looking for that know-how in our system integration partners too.

“In office real estate, talent is the driver. Space has to attract and retain that talent, and people want connectivity and other amenities—all delivered in a sustainable way. NextGen Space is elastic. This means that you are expected to hold a phone call from the moment a person drives into a building all the way up to the 50th floor. Carrier service coming into our buildings has to deliver a consistently strong signal, and Wi-Fi is expected in any common space. To further leverage the bandwidth, we are creating collaborative spaces both indoors and out.  In these spaces we’re providing dynamic access via mobile app to digital signage, some energy controls and other utilities. We play in lots of different ways.

“The move to new mobile apps is a natural next step, building upon the integrated IT suite for workplace business functions we implemented in previous years. We recognized that in the future we’d need that foundational IT architecture. In building mobile apps, a single data base allows you to move much faster than if you had to integrate from multiple silos. Now we can move ahead with light mobile apps that put data visualizations and different types of dashboards at the fingertips of our tenants and staff. We’re able to focus on each touch point and ask ‘How do we make that a better experience?’

“Security is a continuous story. IT security discipline needs to extend to facilities. It’s a matter of tools, policies and procedures, awareness and education. In contracts, security expectations need to be written into the specs we put in place for the integrators. We look for partners that know how to define what the staff should check to review our security.

“Overall, organizational alignment is needed before you attempt to deploy any emerging technology. IT and Facilities people need a common language and common goals. Building those bridges is fundamental.”

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