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Natural & Spontaneous Changes: Technology Advocates and Opportunities for Urban Progress

Technology impacts nearly all aspects of daily life.  From the cars we drive to the maps we use to navigate, to the data provided by both - technology’s correlation to the real estate industry is undeniably crucial to understanding future patterns.

As operational efficiencies and the ability to make data-informed decisions through PropTech adoption become mainstream, demand is driving advocacy within commercial real estate.

Photo by Tatiana Fet from Pexels

Data’s Permanent Implementation

Data generated and captured by emerging technologies along with improved analytics have expanded the ability to act based on business intelligence. Greater collaboration, transparency, and accessibility of information minimize time wasted on cumbersome administrative tasks that add no value.

“When I look at the next five’s going to be easier to take all of the data across all of these different systems, analyze it, and gain insights very quickly. I’m very excited about the prospects of bringing new data, that historically real estate companies have not analyzed, to see how that impacts our business.” - Dennis Main, VP of IT, Equity Commonwealth

The influx of data-driven solutions has produced what can seem like an overwhelming number of options. It’s important to have a structured evaluation procedure as Jenn Michaels, former VP of IT Enterprise Solutions for JBG Smith describes,

“We’ve organized a governance committee. […] This new group is meeting on a regular basis, it has a representative from each department trying to align how the IT department should focus in the future and really understand what the business need is.”

New call-to-actionAs an indication of the variety of solutions arising from within commercial real estate, new tech solutions are emerging to connect to companies with needs that vary as much as the offerings themselves. Sandy Jacolow, former CIO for Silverstein Properties, offers the following criteria for evaluating the potential tech involvement and implementation:

“Some of these things are nice to have, they’re glitzy and glamorous; but they’re not going to address a problem, make our buildings more efficient, or drive revenue. It has to meet one of those criteria.”

Real Estate’s Technological Evolution

Predicting the future while optimizing time and money spent may not seem like complementary goals. However, considering technology’s unrelenting drive to evolve the real estate industry, recognition and integration of new tech and their impacts, such as machine learning and blockchain, is a priority. Robert Entin, CIO for Vornado, offers his perspectives on both:

“Machine learning is an inevitability and it is creeping its way into all of the products that we use. But it’s creeping its way in somewhat slowly; the disruption is a little bit more gradual. Whereas blockchain is a stairway piece of technology; people don’t understand where it’s going to be used exactly. To me, blockchain is to the internet what the internet was to nothing.”

Greater responsibilities are being placed upon building managers and CIOs. As the industry changes, so do the necessary skills sets. Technology is broadening the capacity required for programmers and data scientists, along with the critical need for cybersecurity. Some of these are gradual, anticipated changes, while others can feel like they erupted overnight. In either case, we must embrace inevitable change. Furthermore, we must be deliberate about change management and what it means for our businesses; change for the sake of change is not necessarily wise.


We hope you’ll join us for Catalyst 2019 along with Convene, as we connect visionaries both from within and outside the commercial real estate industry to explore big picture strategies intended to move your field, your discipline, and your career forward. 

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Rochelle A. Carter-Wilson

Written by Rochelle A. Carter-Wilson

Rochelle is the Content Marketing Manager for Honest Buildings. a Procore Company. She creates stories and other on-brand content to inform and engage owners and other members of the Commercial Real Estate industry.

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