Commercial building developers need to consider all of the factors that make a building attractive to potential tenants, and one of the most overlooked areas is the infrastructure required to support today’s technologies. From Internet connectivity, to cloud computing, to wireless printing, technology is crucial to running a business. Just about every company that we help move into a new office space complains about the cost and expense of installing the infrastructure they need to run their business. It’s a shame, because much of this infrastructure is so easy to install and costs so much less when done during construction. Tenants definitely favor sites that are move-in ready, and may even pay a premium for those with the right infrastructure in place.
Despite the advances made in wireless technologies, the biggest issue today is the same that it has been since the advent of desktop computing: cabling. The good news is that every device – computers, printers, security cameras, etc. -- no longer needs a specialized cable. Almost all of today’s networked devices have standardized on the Internet Protocol (IP) for connectivity, which means they all can use the same cabling infrastructure to support the wireless network. However, there are a lot more network-enabled devices now than ever before: mobile phones, multifunction printers/copiers/scanners, ID badges and door key fobs, audio equipment, and tablets have joined laptops in their need for wireless connectivity, with more announced every day. This means that office suites need lots of overhead “runs” for wireless access points. And they need to be on CAT 6 cabling to support the latest equipment.
Installing that cable after a space has been built-out or renovated is a lot more expensive than doing it during construction – up to three times more expensive, in our work with companies throughout Maine. The old rule of thumb was to put one “drop” into each defined space or office suite; today it’s much safer to triple or even quadruple that. It is easy for the construction crew to lay them in place while they’re building, and eliminate much of the hassle and expense for the tenant.
For offices that plan to build out a data center, HVAC is another issue to consider. Most buildings have a central air conditioning unit, and the developer usually adds a vent into the room designated for the data center. The problem is, these vents rarely provide enough cooling capacity, and most tenants need to install an additional, dedicated air conditioning unit. Planning for that during the design phase by adding the right power and venting is a huge help for tenants, and can save them significant expense.
Another overlooked area is Internet connectivity – most customers prefer to have options for Internet service providers (ISPs), and offering them a choice of vendors is very attractive. Even if tenants don’t necessarily have a preference, they can choose services from multiple vendors to support business continuity. If one vendor’s service goes down, the tenant has protection from the alternate, and can continue operating. Some building owners establish a referral program with the ISP to aid the relationship on both sides.
When should all of these decisions be made? In our experience, the best time to call in a technology provider to discuss power points, cabling, cooling, and network options is during the design phase. That’s when the technology provider can give insight into overall building issues as well as options that can make the move-in ready offices and suites that attract customers. It’s a cost-effective way to make your building stand out from other choices, and to get off on the right foot with your new tenants.
Matt Eaton is IT Service Consultant for WGTECH, a Westbrook-based provider of advanced information technology solutions and services. WGTECH has served Maine and Northern New England businesses for more than 15 years with custom-tailored solutions and flexible support services, and focuses on finding the right technologies to help each customer succeed. Reach Matt at MEaton@WGTECH.com, or visit the company online at www.WGTECH.com