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Microsoft is committed to building the most innovative workplaces in the world, and company employees are often the first, best, and at scale users of the company’s tools and technology.
“We're at the bleeding edge of where human interaction meets built spaces, and we’re doing it at a massive sale” says Bill O’Brien, a principal PM manager in Microsoft Digital.
COVID-19 has brought a shift to remote and hybrid work, which ushered in the opportunity to re-imagine what the company can do with its over 650 buildings. This is made possible by Internet of Things (IoT) technology and Microsoft Azure Digital Twins, a platform that enables developers to create a digital replica of physical environments in real time.
Most Microsoft buildings now have hundreds if not thousands of IoT sensors that are typically used to monitor things like temperature and air quality or functionality of machinery and equipment. Now, Microsoft is finding new ways to use those sensors to improve the experience its employees will have as they return to their offices. Thanks to Azure Digital Twins and IoT technology, the team is using information from space usage and reservation information in tandem with real-time sensor information so they can track building usage and save time for employees.
Microsoft is a global company with over 165,000 employees across 120 countries and regions, meaning the team had to look beyond the company headquarters in Redmond and learn the different ways people work and interact with their workspaces. This is why the team worked with Microsoft Digital’s UX Studio team early in the process of creating models for Microsoft's new buildings. The in-house researchers on this team conducted surveys with employees and showed them samples of the capabilities being built so they get feedback and iterate.
Ultimately, the team is proud of their work to usher in a new wave of Microsoft buildings and create experiences that will impact employees for a long time.
“IoT software devices are advancing at dizzying speeds, but concrete isn't curing any faster,” says Eric Slippern, a principal software architect in Microsoft Digital. “The best advice I have is to prioritize, and pilot the experiences that are the most important.”
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