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CRE Tech Has Nothing to Do With Tech and Everything to Do With People. Guest Post Pauline Nee.

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Between executive dashboards, backend databases, open APIs and software stacks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that CRE technology revolves around, well, technology. You’d also be wrong—mostly wrong, anyway.

CRE technology is built to support the business of real estate. At the end of the day, the business of real estate is less about managing physical assets and more about empowering teams of executives, investors, accountants, property and project managers, vendors, consultants, third-party service firms and others to make complex, unified decisions.

Real estate teams are incredibly complex

Take a minute and think about the number of people involved in managing a piece of your real estate portfolio every day, including external teams. Give a thought, too, to the wide range of needs, challenges and goals that each of those people reckon with on every project.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP

Need to execute portfolio-wide initiatives; struggle to access unified data in real time.

ASSET MANAGERS

Need to find and unlock new value across their properties; struggle to maximize historical data and

pricing intelligence.

PROPERTY MANAGERS

Need to lower operating expenses in buildings that are continuously aging; struggle to find a predictable, repeatable process.

PROJECT MANAGERS

Need to manage scope and budget closely; struggle to forecast contingencies with confidence.

ACCOUNTANT TEAM

Need to insure strict financial controls; struggle to understand change orders in context.

BROKERS

Need to place tenants into vacant spaces quickly; struggle to stay informed on progress of construction.

GENERAL CONTRACTORS AND VENDORS

Need clarity on project scope and schedule; struggle to manage stacks of change orders, invoices, plans and other documents.

TENANTS AND OWNER’S REPS

Need to move into new space in a timely manner; struggle to deal with delays or issues with TI work.

THIRD-PARTY MANAGER

Need to report out on progress every week; struggle to integrate with clients’ custom systems.

EXPEDITORS

Need to keep permitting process on track; struggle to share reports and status updates with team.

As long as this list is, it isn’t exhaustive. As complex as this list it, it doesn’t even take into account the fact that many of these teams are physically located in different places, making frictionless teamwork and fruitful collaboration even more difficult.

Let’s break out an imaginary but not atypical “mapping” of the people generally involved in any project:

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Yikes. Between waiting for Monday morning meetings for updates on the project’s status, trying to control the master version of the Excel spreadsheet that keeps everyone on track, and exchanging information via fax, text, FedEx and paper napkin, there are a lot of people going in different directions when thoughtful, synchronized teamwork is what’s needed.

Using technology to strengthen team connections

Here’s the solution: Modern CRE technology platforms strengthen teams by removing barriers to information and facilitating collaboration, thereby helping every member of the team perform at their highest level.

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.56.52 AM

Effective commercial real estate technology platforms put access to data and people at the center of daily workflows. When the barriers to connectivity are removed:

  • Activities that once required a series of complicated steps are faster and simpler to execute.
  • Internal knowledge can be captured for the benefit of the whole team.
  • Planning, reporting and forecasting are standardized, comprehensive and more accurate than previously possible using Excel, Outlook and binders.

The traditional maze of approvals, documents, messages and reports become a logical set of inputs and outputs. The real value of CRE technology is, therefore, not in computer code but in the way that it remaps your teams’ workflows to be far more functional, efficient and secure.

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  • Mark Kalkwarf

    Pauline

    You have taken a very complex situation and have done a brilliant job of explaining the difficulties and objectives. Being able to break down problems into concepts that people can relate to and understand is a rare skill, thank you for sharing it with us.

    Mark

  • Great write up as usual Pauline! Our CEO always says “Technology doesn’t solve problems, but it enables people to solve problems.” CRE is a relationship business and technology is being introduced to facilitate developing more and deeper relationships, not replace it.