ROI in a throwaway World?

The Shard in London is a very impressive sight, towering over the landscape of our metropolis it really is an amazing feat of engineering.  It was quite surprising to learn however that the life expectancy of this, the tallest building in Europe, is just 60 years!  The fact that the Shard towers over many historic buildings that have been standing for hundreds of years, Southwark Cathedral standing since 1220, gives some perspective on this expectancy!  It would appear that the throw away mentality is getting very extreme, wouldn’t it? 

Equally interesting to note is the fact that office space is now available with lengths of lease that have significantly reduced over the last 12 years.  The average length of any lease now being 7 to 9 years rather than the 10 to 17 years, as it was then.  With this decrease the evolution of many businesses are impacted by not only changing rates but also the option to move to larger and smaller premises.  The churn of moving people and their equipment from one place to another is becoming more and more evident as is the reshaping of a building layout to suit a particular business need. 

 In many parts of the world there is a driving trend towards renovation and refitting of existing building premises rather than new construction and with such a dramatic decline in the lifespan of new buildings there is little wonder.  Studies in the UK have demonstrated the benefits of office refurbishment when compared to demolition and rebuilding. In addition to the environmental benefits, property values and planning restrictions are combining to make renovation an economically attractive alternative to demolition and rebuild. Even when the same company occupies the same building, office buildings usually require a major refurbishment every 20 to 25 years.  The likelihood of a need to refurbish is increased when occupancy is changed.  Therefore it can be expected that commercial refurbishment activity is likely to be a significant and increasing portion of overall construction activity for the foreseeable future.  

Taking all of these elements into account and combining it with the fact that technology has become an indispensable tool for business, industry, and education, what importance should be given to warranties or guarantees that are placed on the installation of any voice or data cabling solutions?  Whilst a warranty can offer you 15 to 25 years peace of mind,  if you are not planning to occupy the same building why would this particular aspect be of any value to you?  So what is important?

Within the past few years a need has developed to create a new generation of “flexible” buildings and workplace environments, providing adaptable delivery of power, voice, and data.  Buildings that have infrastructures and structures that can fully support change and adopt new technologies. 

Return on any investment is the highest priority for most businesses, so price will always be a factor that will determine who wins a contract.  Price does however need to be tempered with quality of workmanship, and the solution being just that, and fit for purpose. 

A recent debate in a group on linked-in weighed up the merits of dealing with “big names” or small local businesses.  The majority of responses indicated that whilst the preference would be to deal with the local traders, more often than not the larger companies won out purely based on the fact that they were a recognised name.  The irony that was also noted was that the work was then frequently sub-contracted out to the smaller local business! 

My own thoughts on the matter are that I would rather give work to the company that I felt would provide me with good sound advice, warranties and guarantees, should I need them, as well as providing fully trained and qualified engineers.  I would be looking for a company that gave me confidence in their abilities as their background had the evidence to back up their commitments.

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