Cost Cutting Through Technology

Q:  How can technology in my building save me money?A: Technology can save money in quite a few ways. First, if you’re using traditional phone service (Private Branch Exchange, T1s, Primary Rate Interface), then switching to Voice over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, with good providers can significantly lower costs. In addition, VOIP makes it easy to move people: Unplug phone, move to new desk/office/location, plug phone in.  Voila–instant change of location!In addition, if you haven’t already switched to electronic billing or e-statements, now is the time. Most billing and accounting systems support e-billing or e-statements. E-billing is fast, cuts costs by eliminating printing, postage and handling–and it’s green!If you’re managing more than one building or location, a centralized network operations center can enable your staff to monitor and manage multiple locations cost effectively.And then there is power, which constitutes a growing cost. Power is needed to run the elevators and lights, as well as to heat and cool. Using smart electrical meters, you can monitor and manage real-time usage of electricity. Furthermore, you can deploy smart submeters and let your tenants monitor and manage their electrical usage. In the long run, users will shift power consumption to off-peak hours or reduce their heating and cooling costs, thereby lowering costs and greening the building.Speaking of green, whether in new construction or a retrofit, using smart sensors, LEED-approved techniques and new technologies can significantly cut heating and cooling costs utilizing existing resources. High-rises and buildings in windy or coastal locations can use existing wind flows and thermal patterns to reduce active cooling days by 10 to 50 percent. And if you’re on the water, why not use the river, lake or ocean as a heat sinkor thermal reservoir?You can also install motion-sensitive lights. They are low cost, effective, efficient and woefully underused in most buildings. And talk to the local power authority or utility about replacing incandescent lighting with low-cost, subsidized or free light-emitting diode and compact fluorescent bulbs Several utilities and communities are offering great incentives to reduce your power costs.Another area where cost savings are possible is reduction in paper. Still using manuals, books and printed materials for your staff communications?  Use a wiki instead.  It eliminates printing and storage costs, while keeping knowledge current. Taking that a step further, instead of or in addition to “comments to staff” forms or a support phone number, you can set up a password-protected wiki or a forum where clients and staff can interact while providing an audit trail.Don’t forget to periodically review your technology platform. The cost of Internet access has gone down significantly, as have the costs of servers and computers. Consolidating servers, moving to virtual desktops and shifting some staff to Mac OSX, Linux or purpose-built devices can significantly lower the total operational costs of running a business.Finally, use technology to lower your legal costs. Perform an annual information technology and information security check so you know what systems you have, what practices your staff follows and what the law requires you to have. Costs of compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, privacy breach laws and the new FACTA Red Flag identity theft rules are significantly lower than the cost of litigation and settlement.Send your technology questions to Rajesh Goel, chief technology officer at Brainlink International Inc., via Suzann.silverman@nielsen.com.