IBC: whose line problem is it anyway?

In my last blog I discussed the drivers for inbuilding cellular (IBC).

I want to reiterate one important statistic: in an ExcelRedstone survey of facility managers, 31% said mobile coverage was “poor” or worse. Think about it…. if a third of all businesses has staff running around the office looking for signal, missing phone calls or going outside to make a call, it has to have a massive impact on business productivity.

It also can’t be viewed just from a business perspective. We employ human beings who don’t simply disconnect from the outside world the moment they enter the office doors. Whether waiting for a call from their bank or being contactable by a babysitter, it can cause undue stress if staff are unable to keep in contact for personal reasons too.

With this problem clearly prevalent and the issues known within businesses, who is responsible for trying to address the problem? This is where lack of market education doesn’t help. Awareness of IBC could be better, and as a result, there’s a lack of ownership as to who should take charge of improving connectivity.

Who’s who?

First of all don’t expect network operators to solve the issue. They are already overstretched and have a 5G rollout to contend with soon. Their job is to deliver maximum bang for their buck – getting involved in the minutiae of specific buildings isn’t in their interest. They will also only deal with their own network, whereas your building will need to cater for multiple networks. IBC may operate on the network when in the building, but is it IT’s problem? Certainly they don’t necessarily have the skills in-house to deploy such a solution, although they do have a part to play.
Facilities managers were highly aware of the problem, but just 11% in our survey thought it should be their responsibility to tackle.

Is it the real estate company’s job? Probably not, in their eyes. One real estate company said education is important, noting “We’re a real estate company, not an IT company” firmly batting it back as an IT problem.

What’s interesting in our research is that 31% of connectivity concerns are raised by senior management, and I feel that’s where the decision and drive must ultimately fall. As I mentioned, lack of good connectivity can have a real impact on workplace productivity, which affects many departments. If you have customers on site, it could damage your brand. It’s a topic that touches many areas, and it’s up to the board to give it the importance it needs on the agenda.

It starts at the top

Business leaders need to make this a priority. They should move to create a cross-functional project team, composed of a combination of IT and facility managers as well as external suppliers who understand and can deliver IBC. But they must have the board’s support behind them, otherwise it will fall through the boardroom cracks as is often the case now.

IT are integral to providing the backbone infrastructure that will likely fuel an IBC solution, so they need to be on board. Facilities managers need to step up and work with an IBC provider to ensure the project is a success. Just ‘plugging in’ technology is not the solution and in fact, may make things worse. No two buildings are alike, and it’s important to assess the current performance and truly tailor and In Building Cellular solution to meet the needs of the building and its users.

In my next blog I’ll give advice on how to get an IBC project off the ground, factors to consider and discuss the important of a technology partner that understands IBC.