Information technology is revolutionizing CRE
Technology is transforming everything today and this is true for commercial real estate technology as well.
When I look back to the early 1970s when I started as a CRE manager, we were very limited in information technology. I remember slaving over primitive spreadsheets to analyze a lease. Email was just beginning, and relational databases were in their early stages of development. Various processes like gaining approvals, finalizing a lease, or completing a build-out project, would take weeks. Today, it seems we’ve entered a new world. The IT tools of today super- charge CRE’s productivity, efficiency, and understanding of markets, transactions, and data.
So, what are the major commercial real estate technology drivers enhancing the profession?
Commercial real estate technology that’s making a big impact
Virtual reality (VR)
In no particular order, I would begin with virtual reality. Usually the stuff of science fiction, VR is particularly suited for use in commercial real estate technology:
- It facilitates virtual tours of prospective buildings and interiors.
- It allows project managers to visit and inspect construction projects virtually, minimizing the time and cost of travel.
- It allows CRE managers to review different layouts and furniture schemes.
- It enables virtual collaboration between CRE managers, service providers, and other stakeholders in the leasing lifecycle.
Internet of Things (IOT)
Another technology that is having a major impact on the CRE process is IOT.
Essentially a network of objects such as the myriad of building components and systems, IOT provides insight to a building’s performance, possible failure rates, energy usage and costs, and how thousands of disparate components work together. IOT creates enormous data sets that can be analyzed in real time to detect maintenance and other building issues before they lead to system failures.
We’ve all seen the IBM advertisement where the elevator maintenance man shows up because “Watson” (IBM’s super computer) detected a maintenance issue days before it led to a breakdown. Now with broadband, high speed networks, IOT drastically reduces the time and expense of building operations.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
The use of Artificial Intelligence as a corporate real estate technology is evolving rapidly and will have a profound impact on operations.
Consider the drafting of a lease document. AI will complete the many stages in developing a lease document, by populating the various categories of the lease from data searches, ensuring accurate calculations, and producing rent payment schedules based on the terms in the lease.
Wireless and more
I continue to be amazed at the power contained in the latest smart phones, and how these devices have changed the way we live, work, and play. The advent of wireless technology has revolutionized how and where we work. Work is no longer a place we go to, but what we do. And the transformation of the workplace such as co-working, has created a whole new generation of entrepreneurs and professionals unconstrained by the traditional 9 to 5 work day.
Commercial real estate technology will continue to evolve rapidly and will change every aspect of the facilities and real estate domain. It’s anyone’s guess what the next big thing will be. One can only speculate how robotics, big data, and such advances as neural networks, will change how we manage leases and properties in the future. But one thing’s for sure: it will be different!