Wedding Bells are Ringing for Real Estate and Technology

Oct 17, 2016 Christine Lewis
One of the most traditional industries is on the cusp of tying the knot with the more inherently innovative technology industry and the result will be exciting, to say the least. For decades, it’s been widely understood that the commercial real estate (CRE) industry has lagged behind other industries with regards to innovation. But entrepreneurial tech start-ups offering innovative solutions are knocking on CRE’s door and are poised to make the industry more efficient, creative, and frankly, cooler. Last week I attended Disrupt CRE Boston, an event that honed in on the latest and greatest ideas at the intersection of technology and real estate and explored how technology is fundamentally changing the business of real estate. Coming out of the event, here are four trends that everyone in CRE should be watching closely.
  1. Every building will need an app.The most substantial change that we will see over the next few years is that in every building and/or company, having an app will become the expectation. The future is all about interactive experiences and an app will help create better connectivity in the workplace from booking conference rooms and ordering lunch that is delivered to your desk, to being alerted that a visitor has arrived or that timesheets are due. Companies like Modo Labs are helping companies to do just that.
  2. The “M” word isn’t going away. Many people are sick about hearing about millennials’ preferences, but the reality is that they are changing everything from how we live, work, and play, and are having a tremendous impact on our workplace evolution. Part of this reality is that we are in the midst of a war for talent; building owners are looking for tenants and tenants are looking for talent. These days having a café and a gym in an office building aren’t enough for companies seeking a millennial hire to differentiate themselves. Have a low WiredScore? Expect to invest resources to research and resolve the issue if you hope to lure in millennials. Millennials are in the driver seat and are creating a demand for even bigger, cooler building amenities which we can expect to see even more of in the years ahead. And it’s not just millennials; now that gen Xers and Baby Boomers have seen how much greener the grass is, they’re also jumping on the band wagon, beginning to see these perks as standard.
  3. Every building will need a CIO. Given that the role of managing a building will become more focused on technology and analyzing data, building managers of the future will essentially need to have more of a CIO role. We are data rich but haven’t yet mastered how to  apply the data that buildings are generating into improved efficiencies and greater overall ROI. CrowdComfort, which crowdsources occupant and building information to improve efficiency and service levels for a wide range of facility management functions and beco, which leverages existing lighting infrastructure and mobile phones to deliver insights into real estate portfolios, workforce management and dynamic space planning, are two companies that are helping buildings to collect and use data in meaningful ways and will change the game leading into the next decade. 
  4. Storytelling will be more important than ever. Helping CRE companies share their innovation journeys will become more difficult over the next several years as the space becomes more crowded than ever, making it even more important to start thinking outside the box with development site activations, events, and how to engage with target audiences on social media in new and exciting ways that stand out from the norm.

The CRE industry has been waiting for this innovation influx for far too long. Developers and buildings are getting smarter and it’s changing how we experience and engage with physical spaces. I’m excited to see how the marriage of CRE and technology will reinvent the CRE industry over the next few years.

Topics: Technology, Real Estate, Commercial Real Estate
Christine Lewis

Christine is an account director at InkHouse.

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