The increasing popularity of "intelligent buildings" was the subject for debate at the inaugural meeting of the Eversheds/ Pricewaterhouse Coopers Midlands Technology Forum.
Guest speaker Mike Williams, founder and managing director of software solutions company CDC, told an audience of Midlands IT professionals that many businesses are missing the opportunity to save up to 25 per cent on the operating costs of their building.
Intelligent buildings take an integrated approach to managing all of the systems within a building, from heating and ventilation, to security and communication networks.
All of these systems are integrated into a building's IT infrastructure, creating one management system that is less expensive to maintain and easier to operate, often saving liter-ally thousands of pounds on operating costs.
Mr Williams said: "All businesses are working to tight margins and one area where most companies can save money is by stream-lining their costs.
"All too often companies invest heavily in separate systems to manage different functions within their building in the belief that an integrated approach will be too expensive.
"However, for many, particularly those with multiple sites, the cost savings can be significant.
"It's also a misconception that this integrated approach is the preserve of a new build project, but in fact it can be applied to any building - even one that is hundreds of years old."
Eversheds and PricewaterhouseCoopers will host the next Midlands Technology Forum in the spring.
June James, associate and IT specialist at Eversheds, said: "We felt that this forum would be a useful way for senior executives, particularly in the Midlands, to build relationships with their peers and learn more about the technology industry which now affects and influences all businesses.
"In the technology market, unlike other sectors, what may be considered cutting edge one year can often be regarded as obsolete the next as technology advances rapidly and IT thinking moves on."
Miriam Lemar, director responsible for IT consult-ing at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in the Midlands, added: "Setting up the Midlands Technology Forum has been an exciting challenge and given the positive response from IT professionals at all levels there is obviously a real need for such a forum.
"IT is a business critical issue and therefore needs to be debated at board level. This and other issues such as demonstrating return on investment will be discussed at future meetings of the Technology Forum.