The "Network of Space" is the Real Estate Equivalent to the Internet. No Single Point of Failure can Disable the System and Nodes can be Added or Removed with Ease.

By John H. Vivadelli, President & CEO, AgilQuest

A leading concern of business executives in a real estate environment is the development of plans and infrastructure to ensure business continuity. Many thought leaders are beginning to look at managing an organization's real estate portfolio as an interconnected network of workspaces and buildings rather than the traditional treatment as individual discrete units. AgilQuest calls this integrated portfolio a Network of Space and presents this model as a vehicle to promote business resiliency and improved business continuity.

Much like the Internet, the Network of Space is designed so that no single point of failure can disable the entire network. Additionally, nodes can be added or removed from the system with ease, providing unmatched operational flexibility. In order to create a Network of Space, companies need to think differently about their real estate portfolios and the technologies that tie their facilities together.

The Only Certain Thing is Uncertainty

In today's environment, business executives face unprecedented change and challenges. Market opportunities appear and disappear in moments. Facilities in major cities can be disrupted by disasters, both natural and man-made. Traditional real estate plans, typically involving large, single facilities under long-term leases do not match today's business realities. A new system is needed. In order to meet these challenges, many leading companies are turning to the Network of Space.

The Network of Space is a new way of thinking about real estate. Instead of a single concentrated facility or campus, the Network of Space consists of smaller, geographically disbursed facilities. Instead of a portfolio of owned or leased space, the Network of Space includes temporary office suites, telework centers, virtual offices, and home offices. Instead of dedicated space, the Network of Space allows employees the flexibility to go to work wherever and whenever they need to work.

With the use of advanced information and telecommunication technologies, the Network of Space can be consolidated into a single, seamless operational structure.

Unmatched Operational Flexibility

With its decentralized structure, the Network of Space is ideally suited to help companies manage two important business resiliency concerns-

  • Business Continuity - How can a company react, respond and restructure due to a major disaster?
  • Market Volatility - How can a company react, respond and restructure to take advantage of market opportunities that are measured in months and not years?

Fortunately, the answer to both of these challenges can be addressed within the operating structure of the Network of Space. As it is constructed with multiple operating points, the loss of a single point would not prevent the remaining system, and company, to function. Accordingly, space can be added or downsized based on market demands without disrupting the overall operating structure.

Technologies Needed

In order to be effective, the elements of the Network of Space need to be "tied together" into a single seamless operating entity through the use of technology.

As the Network of Space becomes the preferred operating model, we see two innovative technologies becoming more mainstream:

  • Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) - VOIP Phone Network providers, led by Cisco Systems┬«, have greatly improved call qualify and network reliability in recent years. VOIP's internet-archtecture also is designed for redundancy and greater flexibility.
  • Resource Reservation Systems - By its very nature, the Network of Space is a shared resource structure. In order to allocate and manage these resources effectively, a Resource Reservation system is needed. The most modern of these are web-based and allow for a full enterprise-wide deployment.

The Network of Space can Answer the Key Business Continuity Questions

By employing a business infrastructure managed with a reservation system, companies can answer the key questions that arise during the disaster recovery phase of business continuity:

  • Where is my unused office space on any given day and how can I absorb displaced people into it easily...NOW?
  • How do people get their phone extensions when they need to move without notice?
  • Where are all my people located...today...NOW? Are they in the building where the disaster occurred?
  • How can I add new facilities quickly and provide a means for my people to find available conference rooms, offices, cubicles or equipment in an unfamiliar facility?

The Network of Space can Answer the Key Market Volatility Questions

The Network of Space can also help companies address issues related to the market volatility aspect of business continuity.

  • What facilities are being fully utilized? How much, when and by whom?
  • Where can I expand without requiring additional real estate?
  • Where can I downsize with minimal operational impact?
  • How can I ensure that my employees get access to the resources they need, when they need them?

Change Management

Although the benefits of a Network of Space model are very clear to most companies, there are change management issues that a company will need to address.

These issues can come in a variety of formats from a variety of different sources within an organizations. These can range from concerns over a loss of dedicated space and a culture of entitlement to general concerns over change.

Regardless of the form of the concern, it is very important that companies consider these issues in advance and how they will be addressed. Change management can be the difference between a successful implementation and just another failed initiative.

Conclusion

Today's new business environment requires new ways of thinking about real estate and its place within the corporation. As business continuity, in both of its primary forms, becomes a major issue, companies will need to review the Network of Space. By its very nature, the Network of Space provides for unparalleled operational stability and flexibility. These qualities enable it to adapt to catastrophic situations and economic challenges.

Powering the Network of Space will be advance technologies such as VOIP and resource reservation systems. It is these types of applications that will enable companies to realize the benefits envisioned by the Network of Space.

Like any other major initiative, companies need to have a solid business and change management plan in place. However, unlike other projects, companies cannot afford to have business continuity fail. The very existence of the company may be at stake.

 

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