What is system integration and architecture? And why your business needs an IT systems integration strategy

What is system integration and architecture? And why your business needs an IT systems integration strategy

Digital transformation is no longer nice to have, it is essential for successful business operations. A key component is the integration of business wide systems to create a seamless customer experience and journey.

We are the experts in both traditional and modern microservice integration, and manage all projects with a SAFe Agile lens ensuring they are delivered to requirements and on time

What is system integration and architecture?

IT systems integration is the introduction of new applications into an existing IT landscape and architecture to make your IT infrastructure work better as a whole. This means your systems work more seamlessly together, delivering a better user experience and improved business efficiency.

It involves understanding business processes and how multiple sub-systems need to be orchestrated to achieve an interconnected, frictionless experience using technology or IT platforms.

Simply, it is the process of linking IT systems, software, and technologies so that they function better together.

But why is system integration important? Why should your organisation care? Do you really need a strategy built around it?

To answer these questions here are 4 reasons your organisation needs an IT systems integration strategy.

1. Employees need their systems to be accessible, easy to use & reliable

The modern workforce expects IT applications to be able to support them effectively perform their duties and satisfy customers.

This works best when a business’ wide range of IT systems speak to each other. Access to information and data needs to flow freely through them to avoid the perpetual bottlenecks and operational failures that can come from systems operating independently from each other.

For example, disconnected HR and Finance systems could result in payroll being inaccurate. Poor data mapping (integration) between pay type fields and the type of employment  (contractor, permanent etc.) in your HR system could result in staff receiving an incorrect payment.

Although these errors would likely be picked up, it’s a huge waste of resources and time to to remedy a problem that could have been prevented through properly integrating a businesses HR and Finance systems.

Furthermore, issues such as these become more common as IT systems age.

As systems become outdated, they become harder to maintain, application upgrades or replacements can flow on and negatively impact multiple parts of your business. This not only frustrates staff but makes system failures more common.

By establishing a robust systems integration strategy, you can ensure all your systems are connected, working their best and future proof your business from a potentially catastrophic systems failure.

2. Customers demand a flexible and frictionless experience

The modern consumer is digitally native and expects to interact seamlessly with your business. Regardless of the industry, customer interactions will touch multiple external and internal IT systems.

Your business may be running marketing campaigns in one system, receiving customer enquiries in another, and managing purchase orders in another. Detailed data needs to flow through to your CRM, financial, legal, and even your document generation systems to effectively fulfil your customer’s needs.

This matrix of systems can be incredibly complex for a business to manage and keep connected to ensure customer interactions run smoothly. No customer will accept the software system as an excuse for a poor customer experience or slow delivery of a service. Organisations lacking proper systems integration end up delivering highly siloed, disjointed customer experiences.

Your systems must talk to each other. For example, your CRM system has contacts that have an associated ‘portal ID’. You may require customers to log into a portal to access your services, this relies on the ID or GUID number integrating correctly with an IDAM (Identity and access management) system.

If ‘Amy Smith’ is (ID) is mapped incorrectly to an IDAM system, every time she tries to log in to a consumer portal (eCommerce website, an educational portal, customer account etc.) she will be met with login errors.

Clearly, this is a roadblock for a customer looking to perform the simple task of logging into a portal to perform a transaction or access a service they have paid for. This can be avoided by developing a clear integration strategy, resulting in an enhanced customer experience that will help you to attract and retain customers.

3. It reduces business costs and simplifies operations

Lean streamlined teams can manage multiple business functions and systems can significantly reduce costs and simplify operations.

Effective system integration strategies allow for this by creating a centralised ESB (Enterprise Service Bus). ESB’s work by standardising and simplifying communication, messaging, and integration of services across an enterprise.

Integrating an ESB into your business means hardware and software costs can be shared by provisioning servers for combined usage and providing a centralised integration solution.

Consequently, a single team of specialists can be tasked (and trained if necessary) to manage multiple systems via a single platform and maintain these integrations. For example, a marketing team with an automation platform integrated using ESB could potentially fulfil functions that used to be relegated by analytics, media planning or a digital marketing team.

Similarly, having an integration strategy in place can reduce operational costs. An ESB allows organisations to seamlessly unify and standardise their capabilities across diverse IT environments.

Specifically, enterprise integration enables you to easily:

  • Discover valuable services
  • Applications and data
  • Access and expose applications functions via API’s
  • Connect multiple business services
  • Monitor application lifecycles and governance.

Reducing costs should be more aligned to automation and cloud integration and ESB is more of an older technology term (people moving from SOA to Microservices even if in practice they are the same)

4. It generates a single view of your customer across your business

Unifying your systems can help you consolidate customer data and interactions to create a single view through one platform. Customers expect brands and companies to know their likes, preferences, and interests, and to have them reflected in the marketing communications and the products or services they are recommended.

To do this, your company requires data that captures the target’s traits and behaviours. Marketing teams can then analyse the data, allowing directed messages to be communicated to potential customers through large-scale personalised campaigns.

This relies on your customer data being consolidated from the various business systems they interact with.

Integrating your systems is essential as it allows data to flow freely across organisational silos or departments. The information can then be visualised into reports and dashboards that give you a single view of your customer across your whole business.

Connected systems provide you with data that can be used to gather detailed insights on end-to-end customer processes and introduce new features and functionalities that take these learnings into account.

So what next?

Take a moment to reflect on your company’s integration strategy and implementation approach.

You might consider internal development teams to integrate data, applications, automation and provide service orchestration. However, this is often far more than a business can handle whilst juggling BAU activities.

Our team can help you manage your systems integration strategy, leaving you and your team to focus on what’s important. Get in touch today for a complimentary chat on optimising your systems integration.

Ramnik Singh

Business Development Manager


MBA Wandering Warriors scholarships for veterans

scholarships for veterans

MBA Wandering Warriors scholarships for veterans

Unico supports the Wandering Warriors program providing scholarships for veterans with the opportunity to complete an MBA at prestigious Melbourne Business School and seamlessly transition to civilian life.

Unico is a proud sponsor of the Wandering Warriors through the Melbourne Business School’s ‘Wandering Warriors Scholarship’ for veterans. The scholarship provides veterans with the opportunity to further their studies through Australia’s leading MBA program and assist in the successful transition out of defence and into civilian life.

Who is Wandering Warriors

Wandering Warriors is a veteran charity organisation supporting veterans and their families through education, employment, respite and mentoring programs. The Wandering Warriors scholarship for veterans helps the transition of veterans in Victoria looking to fast track their career as an executive in the corporate or government sector.

Harry Moffitt is the Defence Strategic Advisor at Unico and the Victorian State Manager at Wandering Warriors and served 30 years in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). He recognises the importance of support post service and is a strong advocate of education providing a springboard into a career outside defence. Harry is now a practising psychologist and founder and CEO of the corporate performance consultancy Stotan Group.

Harry Moffit
Harry Moffit, Strategic Defence Advisor Unico

“The previous narrative for post-service aspirations is that individuals pursue study or careers centred around security, oil and gas, and the defence industry. The scholarship opens up further doors and allows individuals to choose their own paths, unrelated to their service.”

“I wanted to pursue a career in psychology however found it difficult to navigate the correct path due to the lack of resources available, so I took initiative and put myself through university”.

Not only does this misconception narrow prospects for ADF members exiting the force, but it also makes the transition back into civilian life limited and more difficult.

“It is very difficult for defence families as they are required to pack up and move their life every two years. This unique situation is hard on individuals and families, therefore we want to provide as much support as possible to veterans to ease their transition post-service.”

“Completing service and entering the real world can be quite overwhelming, so through the Wandering Warriors program, veterans can feel supported at every level. We are adding value to individuals by assisting their self-journey, and therefore the community as a whole.”

Introducing Ed Harris

Ed Harris, recipient of the Wandering Warriors Scholarship for the MBA at Melbourne Business School, applied for the program after seeing Wandering Warriors had established a connection with Melbourne Business School and Unico through a LinkedIn post. He has now finished his service and is on standby reserves after completing 12 years in the ADF.

scholarships for veterans
Ed Harris, Wandering Warriors MBA 2021

“I was ecstatic to be selected for the scholarship considering the competitive nature of the program.”

Ed is intending to use his MBA to bolster his career by working at an executive level for business management with an interest in starting his own company in the future.

“It is a bit of a veil coming from a service role and trying to apply learned leadership and skills acquired in your time at the defence force to your life outside the ADF.”

Ed will use the scholarship and opportunity to transition to his new life and career outside of the ADF in business and continue to be an advocate for supporting defence personnel in their endeavours outside of the force. 

Unico looks forward to working with and supporting Wandering Warriors and the Melbourne Business School to support our veterans, post-service.

Brent Wijnberg

Business Development Manager

+61 3 9865 9179

Case studies Insights

The MIoT tech that connects a wearable device to a mobile

The MIoT tech that connects a wearable device to a mobile

connected wearable devices

Key benefit
One of the key benefits of uPair is its lifecycle management of this growing family of ‘Mobile Internet of Things’ (MIoT) secondary devices towards the operator. uPair provides a service delivery framework between the operator and third party ecosystems and abstracts much of the complexity into the operator through the use of standards based TMF API’s to the operator’s Network, CRM and Charging/Billing systems.

How it works:

  • The handset and wearable device connects via Bluetooth, with the handset connecting to uPair via the mobile network or WiFi.
  • uPair checks both local and operator databases to establish existing state and whether the customer is entitled to the One Number service.
  • If the customer is ‘entitled’ to sign up and proceeds, uPair hosts the user sign up web flow process, assigns the eSIM and mobile details from its inventory tables, readies the eSIM for download and updates the operator’s fulfilment system.
  • The operator’s provisioning system updates services in the network.
  • uPair passes the assigned eSIM back to the handset and wearable device, and the wearable device subsequently downloads the eSIM.
  • uPair updates the operator CRM and charging systems as required.
  • The operator replies to uPair when all is complete, uPair updates its database.
  • The watch and handset are notified all is complete.

If you would like to find out more about how uPair can help your business, please contact Jason Bodsworth.

Business update Insights Media

Unico welcomes Thomas Crawford as CFO

Unico welcomes Thomas Crawford as CFO

7 June 2021

John Rowland, Managing Director Unico is pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas (Tom) Crawford as Chief Financial Officer of the company. This follows the announcement that David Goode will be stepping into a strategic advisor role assessing investments for Unico and uSpark.

Tom will join Unico on Monday, 7 June 2021, and will be supported by David in the transition and handover.

Commenting on the appointment, John Rowland, Managing Director said “I am excited to have Tom on board and look forward to continuing our diversification strategy and achieving our strategic growth ambitions. He joins us from Adecco Group where he worked in the UK and Australia, and his experience includes professional services technology, and recruitment. I would also like to thank David Goode for his tremendous effort over the last couple of years and look forward to continuing to work with him on Unico and uSpark investments.”

Tom Crawford, CFO

Tom Crawford said “I am thrilled to be joining Unico. I have long held a passion for optimising business performance through technology, and I look forward to working with John, the Executive, and the wider Unico business on achieving the company’s strategic growth objectives.”

Tom Crawford

Before joining Unico, Tom Crawford was the CFO of the Adecco Group’s New Zealand operations, driving a return to profitability for the country and successfully diversifying the business into high-growth industries.

Tom held several senior leadership roles with Adecco and was talent-tracked through Adecco’s international future leaders’ program, gaining exposure to a wide range of industries and markets.

Tom helped to set up the finance function and provide strategic direction to a fledgling technology company of the Adecco Group and worked for several years as a finance business partner for the professional technology services brands of the Adecco Group.

Tom started his career in finance on a graduate program with Reed, the largest privately owned recruitment business in the UK. From there, he successfully secured international assignments to help transform finance operations in South Korea and Australia for the Reed Global Group.

Professionally, his key passions are in empowering and developing high-performing teams, optimizing finance and business processes through technology, and positioning finance as a business partner to help drive profitable sustainable growth.

Outside of work, Tom is passionate about travel, learning new languages and cultures, and enjoys cooking and spending time with his family.

Tom is a member of the chartered management accountants (CIMA) and holds a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of York in the UK.

John Rowland

Managing Director


Using workplace technology to engage your workforce

Using workplace technology to engage your workforce

31 May 2021

Earlier this month we hosted a face to face executive luncheon on the future of workplaces and workplace technology. Attendees included executives from LinkedIn, MYOB, Seek, Colliers, and leading universities.

The discussion was focused on how attendees were using workplace technology to engage workforces and encourage them back into the office. The five key takeaways were:

1) A data-centric approach to building management
Real-time data can help property managers and landlords fully understand how a building and its systems are used which can enable proactive maintenance.

2) Enhancing user experience through one platform helps create an easier back to work journey
One platform is needed to streamline workforce management and keep staff engaged and invested in the workplace experience.

3) Automating & accelerating inefficient workplace processes
Automating inefficient manual processes helps property operators and businesses optimise space usage and work more efficiently.

4) Keeping data safe, secure & private
User data must be anonymised and protected to give employers and employees reassurance around how their data is stored and utilised.

5) PropTech a passing phase or the bedrock of a new normal?
COVID-19 has accelerated PropTech adoption, but SMART tech demand will continue as generations become increasingly digitally native and tech-savvy.

So, what is the solution? A central platform that integrates company applications and COVID Safe technology in one place. To find out more visit

If you are interested in our digital transformation capabilities get in touch below.

Ramnik Singh

Business Development Manager

Insights Partners

The future of the workplace – New ways of working and what it means for businesses and commercial real estate

The future of the workplace – New ways of working and what it means for businesses and commercial real estate

2020 was the year that redefined the way we work and shaped the future of the workplace. The global pandemic resulted in dramatic shifts in how businesses operate, and how people are safely managed across shared spaces. As we near the end of FY21, hope is on the horizon with vaccine rollouts in progress around the world.

However, international peaks in COVID-19 cases, second waves, vaccine supply concerns and the threat of new strains indicate there is a significant degree of unpredictability and health concerns to manage for years to come, and long-term impacts to consider.

Distinct changes in office behaviour and protocol once born out of necessity have given way to more enduring shifts in workplace policy that will outlast COVID-19.

The global pandemic has changed the way we work for good. Companies have not only pivoted to an immediate existential threat; they have reconsidered how they function and operate

Erica Volini , Global Human Capital Leader,  Deloitte

How is the way we work changing?

Initially, most businesses were thrust into remote working scenarios due to safety concerns surrounding a world amid a global health crisis.

Although the pandemic endures, and the public health impact will continue, there is growing evidence to suggest COVID-19 has permanently changed employer and employee expectations around the way we work. Employees are no longer married to the concept of working in the office five days a week. Fundamentally, this is the future of the workplace.

The removal of strict in office attendance requirements and presentism has blown open traditional recruitment that has been restricted to location and inner city talent pools. At Unico, we have seen firsthand that the widespread acceptance of remote working has opened up the job market, allowing us to employ team members in locations where we don’t typically operate.

A 2021 Roy Morgan Research poll found that in Melbourne alone three quarters of city workers are reluctant to go back to work full time. The same poll found more than 30% of respondents would prefer to work mostly from home and 42% would like some regular days in the office. Roy Morgan’s research also found that in January 2021 CBD traffic had reduced by 72% in Melbourne and 66% in Sydney compared to the same time last year.

On a global scale, recent data from Linkedin’s Workforce Confidence Index showed 47% of US professionals believe their companies will allow them to work remotely, at least partially after the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Employees in tech and finance had even greater expectations of flexibility with 73% and 67% of individuals respectively sharing this belief.

As workers have experienced the extra time and flexibility working from home affords, their desire for a ‘flexible working model’ has continued to grow. Documented benefits to working from home include flexibility to juggle life, creating work-life balance, limiting distractions, and home based child care. Exposure to a new way of working has undoubtedly changed the way staff work and employers need to listen.

Employees will demand greater flexibility and organisations will require it

Ashley Williams, Assistant Professor – Harvard Business School

In July 2020 a Gartner survey amongst global business leaders revealed 82% of respondents plan to allow employees to work remotely some of the time. Experimentation with remote working has proven these work models can work effectively in certain scenarios and build more resilient business operations. Companies are beginning to apply a more agile and creative mindset to work policies and realise the employee experience is not necessarily limited to a traditional office environment.

Big tech is leading the charge with giants like Facebook, Microsoft, and Salesforce embracing flexible work models. Salesforce recently declared the “9-to-5 workday dead” and cited the employee experience as being “more than ping-pong tables and snacks”.

In our always-on, always-connected world, it no longer makes sense to expect employees to work an eight-hour shift and do their jobs successfully

Brent Hyder – Head of HR – Salesforce

Salesforce’s Head of HR Brent Hyder emphasised that workers need ‘flexibility to be successful’ which means striking a balance between personal and professional obligations. For many companies embracing this philosophy could mean the difference between losing or retaining their best talent as flexible working fast becomes the norm, not the exception.

One of the most popular models that are being embedded into corporate life is the 3-2-2 model or flex work model. This model allows employees to come into the office one to three days a week with a typical focus on collaborative tasks, customer meetings, and presentations. Research indicates that models such as these offer many benefits to both employees and employers.

Flexible work policies also act as an effective tool for improving employee engagement through empowerment and indicating respect. Those engaged with their jobs miss fewer days of work, have less turnover, and have improved career longevity. Engagement is a proven way business leaders can improve the KPI’s of their employees if they proactively work at it. Years of Gallup research has shown that when employees are engaged their performance improves dramatically, highly engaged workplaces can claim 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability.

What does that mean for the future of the workplace? How does this affect businesses reassessing their workplace needs and the wider commercial real estate market?

In Australia alone, it is forecast that in 2021 half of all office workers will spend two days at home. Consequently, a fall in net demand for office space of up to 5% will be triggered. Similarly, Gartner found an increase in remote working due to flexible working policies will allow some organisations to support up to 40% more workers in the same amount of space they use today.

These statistics indicate some significant shifts in commercial real estate for businesses which can be separated into two key areas:

1) A surplus of space in existing tenancies will drive down demand for larger office spaces

Due to changes in workplace norms many tenants will reduce their leased space needs as they expire and renewals transpire or slow demand as surplus capacity is absorbed. Businesses may even make the shift to smaller, cheaper premises without necessarily reducing the size of their workforce. To persuade tenants who are not set on changing their lease, property operators and developers will have to provide additional value to convince them to stay. A marketable point of difference for building owners will make leasable spaces more appealing for both new and existing tenants. This could come in the form of IoT-enabled SMART spaces and technology that can enhance the tenant experience and protect staff. Such technology can be offered in the form of tailored tenancy packages.

2) A need to manage a dynamic flow of people in and out of the office

As flexible working becomes increasingly normalised, challenges emerge for businesses seeking to manage staff across multiple sites and environments. A consistent flow of staff in and out of the office will be highly demanding for HR departments and management as well as a strain on company resources. From workforce planning and coordination to asset booking and desk allocation, there is a range of tasks that will be made overly difficult due to flexible working.

Shifts to a hybrid way of working will involve remote and on-site staff having to collaborate together virtually and physically, often simultaneously. Ensuring high quality audio visual facilities exist in offices will be crucial for businesses seeking to maintain the benefits of flexible working without sacrificing productivity or creativity.

Hot-desking once declared dead, will now become essential for many larger businesses looking to support a flexible workplace that allows for a dynamic flow of people. In a world beset by COVID-19 tracking, managing, and protecting staff compliantly is crucial but unnecessarily complex without the right tools.

Technology is the answer to the future of the workplace. Workplace management platforms, software, and the data-gathering potential of IoT offer a highly effective solution for these challenges when combined.

What next?

COVID-19 has led to enduring changes that have changed how we work and how we use our spaces. The new normal is flexible working. It is hot desking. It is creating a safe environment for our team. It is being supportive of employee wellbeing.

Whenever a major external event forces us to change, new opportunities and challenges emerge. Businesses have to grapple with change and technology is the best resource to effectively and efficiently deliver the results needed.

If you are interested in what your future workplace could look like, or how technology can help you prepare for flexible working we are happy to guide you through our technology solutions including JourneyHub.

Head of Innovation

Insights Media Partners

All-Star Mile voting shows horse racing continues to strengthen female audience

All-Star Mile voting shows horse racing continues to strengthen female audience

Highly secure website and All-Star Mile voting platform with a validation rate of 96.4%

Unico is proud to have supported Racing Victoria deliver their vision for the All-Star Mile for three consecutive years. The All-Star Mile is the world’s richest mile and the only race where the Australian public choose who races on the day.

Racing Victoria and Unico collaborated to create a highly secure website and All-Star Mile voting platform that is auto-scaling, auto-healing with cloud-first design, and the ability to handle high levels of user traffic. Unico is proud to announce for the third year that a Big 4 Advisory firm’s Cyber Security team were unable to penetrate the platform and a validation rate of 96.4% was achieved through SMS verification codes and Salesforce marketing cloud campaigns.  

The All-Star Mile was designed to attract a new and more diverse audience, which was achieved for the second year in a row with over 32% female voters. This could not have been delivered without the teamwork and collaboration between Racing Victoria and Unico – our team more than halved the number of unverified votes from last year worked on tight deadlines and had to adapt to meet regulatory constraints” Racing Victoria GM Customer Strategy & Engagement Marcia Allan.

This year’s All-Star Mile continued to engage fans with 10 wildcard Owner Ambassadors who shared a prize pool of $500,000, with Matt Fory from Shepparton taking home the top $250,000 prize alongside winner Mugatoo.

If you would like to find out more about Unico’s All Star Mile secure website and voting platform, please contact Evan Harridge.

Evan Harridge

Director Innovation


How will work change in the future? COVID, the catalyst for change

how will work change in the future

How will work change in the future? COVID, the catalyst for change

How will work change in the future? The post-COVID office and flexible workforce will drive lasting changes in the workplace that businesses need to prepare for.

The world is full of examples of innovators who sensed a need for change in their environment and used it as a catalyst for lasting improvement. Those visionaries took their teams through adversity and invented a new future. We believe that in the years to come we will see that the year that everyone would rather forget, 2020, was the year that lasting change was enacted in our lives and businesses.

In Australia, the most obvious manifestation of these changes will be the move to remote and hybrid ways of working. We have seen workforces successfully move to a remote working model, but we believe that the real lasting changes from this transformation are yet to come. Specifically, we believe that:

Remote working solutions will need to adapt to better fit a hybrid working future or flexible workforce

So exactly how will work change in the future? Today’s completely remote workforce will move to a hybrid model where employees once again seek the enhanced collaboration and social-bonding benefits of the office. Solutions that have worked fine for the fully remote workforce (e.g. desktop-based video conferencing) will need to be augmented with solutions that provide collaboration between mixed groups of remote and onsite team members.

post-COVID office
SMART technology & advanced booking systems have recently been combined with great effect to manage flexible workforces over multiple on-site and remote locations.

We’ve all been part of a meeting where collaboration has suffered and failed due to team members participating online and in person, or the person working from home wasn’t invited in the first place. These scenarios will become the norm in the post-COVID office, and SMART solutions will be a necessity as it is unlikely teams will ever fully co-locate again.

On-site working solutions required for a safe and compliant post-COVID world. 

The return of workforces to offices will require active solutions to balance staff sense of safety (is this building safe for me?), building practical usage limits (lift throughput, floor and meeting roaming occupancy etc.) and employers’ legal obligations (am I fulfilling my legal obligations) in an effective manner. 

Our team has significant experience in SMART office solutions, which started with SMART Desks a number of years ago. Due to COVID the team saw a need for a SMART Space solution – JourneyHub was born. JourneyHub is a SMART Space solution that allows landlords and employers to manage their office space safely and efficiently through IoT sensors, AI/ML and IT integration capabilities.  

Suburban and metro business adapting to a hybrid working future.  

One of the few positives of COVID has been the new life that has been breathed back into local high streets and community areas. Hundreds of thousands of people who traditionally spend their days in the CBD are working from home, potentially juggling childcare, and education responsibilities. This trend of flexible working and increased activity in suburban areas will provide opportunities for local businesses to flex to growing customer demand.

A good example is neighbourhood gyms, who are poised to benefit with the permanency of flexible working, resulting in increased demand for daytime classes and gym space. This will need to be balanced by addressing anxiousness relating to over-crowding by real-time updates and allocation of their equipment to their neighbourly customers who are using their newfound work flexibility to fit in a gym session between video meetings. 

To make this type of solution work, it requires clever integration of sensors to measure usage, CRM systems to keep track of customers, AI/ML modelling to predict usage and mobile applications to inform customers when the ‘coast is clear’. Unico’s SMART Space solutions are well suited to bridge the gap between innovative business ideas and technology allowing businesses to capture new customers.

Is your business grappling with the question “How will work change in the future?” If you wonder what the post-COVID office might look like and think that IT transformations can help you reach your goals, we might be the people to help you.

Get in touch below.

Mark Hannon

Head of Telco Sales and Pre-Sales


What is SMART Workplace Technology? And how can it help businesses return to the office in the new COVID-19 normal

What is SMART workplace technology? And how can it help businesses return to the office in the new COVID-19 normal.

SMART workplace technology has played a major role in the PropTech industry for decades, but what is SMART technology? And how can it help businesses return to the office in the new COVID-19 normal.

SMART technology and SMART workplaces have played a major role in the PropTech industry for decades and have gone through many transitions and evolutions over the years. A range of solutions exist on the market that are primarily focused on workforce management, workplace traffic management, analytics and access control. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a range of SMART technology options being adopted into a range of workplaces by both tenants and building owners.

So what is SMART technology?

SMART technology means “Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology”. This technology is used to provide cognitive awareness to objects, by making use of advanced technologies like internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine leaning and big data.

This workplace technology makes use of smart devices like sensors to collate, adapt and convey information about objects and environment, making the monitoring process seamless and self-governed.

SMART technology has recently been combined with new hardware capabilities such as thermal imaging technology to help identify COVID-19 symptoms.

SMART technology lays the foundations for what we like to call a ‘SMART workplace’ which can be defined as:

A digital transformation driven solution encapsulating products and systems, connecting employees and their work environments. A SMART Workplace is geared towards improving collaboration, increasing productivity for workforces and providing employee wellness and safety, thereby helping organisations to make effective and optimal utilisation of human capital and physical resources.

But how can a SMART Workplace help your business in the new COVID-19 normal?

1) Temperature scanning & safety gear detection:

Thermal imaging camera technology has been used across a variety of industries to help identify abnormally high temperatures that pose a health or transmission risk. However, the advent of COVID-19 has driven its widespread adoption in new areas such as retail and real estate. Most approved medical devices utilise infrared radiation to accurately measure temperatures. Placing cameras at designated entry points across a workplace means pedestrians can be monitored for unsafe temperatures that could pose health risks. This information can then be directly sent to users or staff via a mobile app, who will then enact internal safety procedures. Add in AI-enabled mask detection capability and you can systematically help prevent health threats, mitigating the risk of workplace outbreaks.

2) Workplace data & traffic management:

As additional safety procedures are implemented at scale across larger workplaces, the challenges of managing the capacity of people from the lobby, to the lift and into the office become increasingly apparent. Social distancing protocols mandate set lift capacities and other safety precautions that cause major lift delays in larger workplaces during peak periods. Consequently, it is essential that organisations maximise building capacity to make commuting as efficient as possible. By integrating sensor data, analytics and a mobile application, landlords and tenants can easily gather accurate insights on occupancy and utilisation. These are be used to safely manage lift capacity, track overcrowding and identify areas prone to overcrowding that pose health risks. Detailed data and reporting are essential for larger organisations looking to ensure staff can safely return to the office at scale and formulate a key component of a workplace traffic management plan. 

3) Social distancing management:

Some organisations will require social distancing protocols to be implemented and upheld throughout the workplace. Live reporting on usage and occupancy of space can help safely manage density across the workplace.

SMART occupancy sensors are IoT devices that can detect someone’s presence and location in real-time. Installing sensors across leased and communal areas allows management to determine with pinpoint accuracy how many people are occupying a specific space. This data can then be used to determine if individuals are within space capacity limits in areas such as lifts, common areas, meeting rooms or even individual desks. Combine this data with an integrated mobile app and you can enable real-time proximity alerts that notify staff when they have breached pre-set social distancing protocols or are at risk of overcrowding.

4) Mobile ID scanning and touchless technology:

High transmission risks within traditional work environments has resulted in the need for touchless alternatives to buttons and handles, as well as the reduced human interaction where possible. Hardware such as touchless buttons and mobile ID scanners can support a ‘frictionless’ journey throughout an entire building. By taking this one step further and integrating facial recognition or mobile authentication, physical interactions can be removed at selected access points. Add in a web application for guests or visitors and you can manage sanitary access control across an entire building.

5) Usage based cleaning:

Bathrooms, kitchens, desks and other high-touch areas pose a significant infection risk that can be greatly reduced through cleaning based on usage rather than schedule. ‘SMART’ occupancy sensors can register usage instances and alert tenants when cleaning or sanitation is required after a set amount of usage instances.

Are you considering utilising SMART workplace technology yourself or for your clients?

Unico develops and integrates a range of SMART workplace solutions and SMART technology for Australian businesses, building owners and developers.

If you would like to find out more get in touch with me today.


Evan Harridge

Director of Innovation


Lifting the lid on Intrapreneurs

The three factors holding your organisation’s internal Intrapreneur innovation back.

At Unico we are undergoing a transformation. Not the “digital transformation” you hear so many organisations undertaking – these are largely cost management measures that stand to deliver no incremental value in their own right. Nor is it just another cultural transformation. We are instead recognising the fuel inside our people, incredible ideas of better ways to work, or great businesses to be in, and providing the spark that will help ignite their passion to succeed and become true “intrapreneurs”.

New employees come to an organisation green and enthusiastic but soon the light starts to dim. As they are increasingly seen as creatures of one-dimensional value, all sorts of things start happening. They loose focus. Their productivity drops. And, worse, they start thinking the grass is greener on the other side. And as soon as they think this – for the very first time – you have lost the battle to keep your most valuable asset, your people.

Where and why they go is a subject for another day, but one of the key reasons is that they think the business won’t listen to their ideas that may add value. These are the Intrapreneurs – those in your flock who can see a better way to do something. Or a new customer to serve. Or maybe an entirely new market to serve with a different product.

What holds an Intrapreneur back?

There are many factors that stop people thinking they can or should innovate and become an Intrapreneur. Here are three that will easily override any words from management about how important innovation is.

1) KPI’s – Key Performance Inhibitors:

One of the key inhibitors of performance in real, meaningful terms, are KPIs. I don’t mean to say that measuring performance is not important, but I do think that the process of defining KPIs is fundamentally broken in many of the organisations I’ve observed. To the business the KPI tries to identify success criteria for a given employee. But that’s not what the employee sees. They see a leash – if something is not in the KPIs, then it is not allowed to be done. Certainly, there are individuals who manage to renegotiate their KPIs regularly to reflect what they have done, but are they really just gaming the system?

Another impact of KPIs is the punitive shadow they cast over the whole organisation. When they do stick to their KPIs, there is no incentive to fail, so why would they try something new? They are not rewarded for trying something new that might fail – failure ultimately means lower financial reward. This is one of the most powerful drivers of behaviour, and if your performance measurement does not make an allowance for failure, your organisation risks becoming stagnant in a sea of fast moving competitors doing everything they can to get and stay ahead of you.

It is hard to define valuable KPIs, and nearly impossible to define KPIs that might drive an intrapreneurial outcome, since the results probably will not fall within the typical 12-month measurement window. Einstein was quoted as saying “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. This is very true in the case of KPIs.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted ” – Albert Einstein

2) Business as Usual (BAU):

Many organisations tend to prioritise BAU work, which is natural. After all, BAU is what has successfully driven the business in the past, so anything that impacts that baseline must be bad for the business. I call this tactical value, and it may be necessary in sustaining the organisation for the coming year, but it is not sufficient for longer term success. Few realise that focusing on tactical value may be the very lid keeping your teams from contributing strategic value – value that could fuel the organisation for decades to come.

At least one organisation we work with are suffering this at the moment. With a key customer under their belt, BAU for them has become anything that keeps that customer happy. What they have realised is that this view of success has reduced the ability for them to progress their product roadmap beyond its original MVP, and that has limited their ability to be successful with other customers. Fortunately, that’s has now turned around in favour of generating strategic value.

3) Paralysed by a vision of success:

A great idea can get stuck at the gate when an Intrapreneur realises that they don’t know how to take them forward or lack the resources to do so. A logical place to seek help in many cases would be their employer, except that typical employment instruments make a clear claim on IP ownership once exposed. Why would you tell your employer that you have a great idea for the next biggest thing, if it’s just going to be taken away from you?

So instead of flourishing it sits in the back of its creator’s mind, niggling away at them and creating more and more dissatisfaction with their job – each day bringing them closer to leaving you.

Is there a better way?

At Unico we think there is, and it starts with support, funding and recognition of the value contributed outside of traditional productivity metrics. We have built processes, funding opportunities and recognition programs to encourage ideas to be brought out into the light and be explored. And we are recognising that innovators need to be explorers – they need to carry their knowledge into new conversations, where two separate ideas can smash together like particles in a physics experiment, combining to form a new idea and releasing an energy that wraps around the team and drives them forward with a new passion.

This exploration is an opening of our doors to the outside world and inviting other organisations in to experiment with their own ideas and finding common purpose as we collaborate to bring new innovations to life.

Introducing uSpark

uSpark is an organisation dedicated to pursuing innovation from all corners of industry. We have recognised through conversations with Unico’s customers that there are organisations all over our nation with great ideas bubbling up within their teams, but without the processes or the support to allow those ideas to develop.

We aim to help put innovation into the heart of all businesses without disrupting core activities, providing tools, processes and space to test new ideas and identify potential customers and markets. Our team has a broad range of innovation experience, from start-ups to large corporates, both local and from the heart of innovation, Silicon Valley.

For more information on our processes, people of how we can help bring your ideas to life, contact me by looking below.

Brent Wijnberg

Business Development Manager

+61 3 9865 9179