December 12, 2018
One of the trends that emerged soon after the internet became a useful tool for business was the propagation of data and the desire by many to make that data as ubiquitous as possible. However, as companies push to gather, organize and report on data, there is one constant we must all remember: data gets old sitting on the shelf.
Many real estate companies have taken the approach of protecting perceived proprietary data to garner a competitive advantage. A broker’s or asset manager’s contacts, information about their business and the assets they control are key pieces of information traditionally held close to the vest. It might be time for that to change as we enter a market more and more influenced by the next generation of real estate professionals that are focused on how their buildings can compete for tenants.
Unquestionably, the personal details of a client are a distinct advantage in a business deeply rooted in relationships. As we become trusted advisors for our clients, we gather information about the people involved and how they like to operate. Those details are vital to closing deals and must be maintained, protected and available to the team that mined them and continues to nurture that relationship.
Yet there is still a cache of data about investor holdings, industry trends and investment patterns that needs to be shared within an organization to truly realize the benefit of gathering that data. Real estate service companies that can maximize the utilization of data across their platform – from workplace strategy and tenant amenitization to geospatial imagery and branding, just to name a few areas –will find a clear advantage in serving the breadth of their clients’ needs and uncover others attracted to the holistic approach.
Many real estate technology firms see matching tenants with available space as commercial real estate's version of match.com. A series of questions about what a tenant’s needs and wants is compared to a database of available inventory, much like a dating service algorithm. The result is a match made in heaven, and the tenant and landlord live happily ever after.
If that were indeed true, this model could radically affect the role of brokers and reduce the need for their influence in the transaction process. But there is a fault in this logic: the human element. How will the tenant feel about the space? Is the fitness center a few treadmills or a comprehensive wellness amenity with instructor-led classes and state-of-the-art equipment that truly appeals to today's health-conscious tenant? The emotional connection to a space by today's occupiers continues to be an important element of the decision-making process.
How do we blend the data-driven sabremetric approach with the traditional process of repeatedly touring a space to understand how it will attract and retain the best employees? The answer is simple, but balancing the solution is not. Open sources of data will find their way to the mainstream through the industry's information leaders, and that data will be available to all as a digital marketplace connecting tenants and availabilities. Additionally, the matchmaking calls for a real estate professional to illustrate how a tenant can gain an advantage in recruiting top talent by having the best space for its mission.
As the race for data rages on, there will still be agents doing what they do best – creating a vision of a top-quality workplace out of four walls that inspires tenants to renew, relocate or expand.
– By Kurt Emshousen, Chief Administrative Officer