IT’s Changing Role in Real Estate Technology Buying
Jesse Carrillo, CIO at Hines, and Joe Rich, CIO at the Related Companies, recently shared their thoughts with Realcomm on how technology – and the buying process for that technology – in our industry is changing. Two key points they shared really showcase how impactful these changes are.
The first: IT should not be the sole driver of innovation or technology adoption. That is now a shared responsibility between the business end users and IT. That means that property management, engineering, construction, etc. should be bringing new solutions – and the problems they are solving – to IT’s attention. That shifts the responsibility to build business cases for new technologies away from IT to the people who will actually benefit from those new tools and platforms. This avoids the 'solution in search of problem' syndrome, and shifts the focus to delivering practical, measurable value.
It’s important to understand how IT wants to be involved in the vetting process from the very beginning, so you don’t become what’s referred to as ‘shadow IT’ – making technology decisions without involving anyone from IT. When you’re on the market for a new tool, start by assessing if the software you already use has the new functionality you want. They may be able to meet the need you have – you just may not know it. Ask vendors questions about ease of integration with existing software you use, and what (if any) assistance is needed from your IT department to get it up and running.
Much like the shift in buying decisions from IT to the business, there’s a parallel shift happening for the actual software implementation and configuration. The business users are often working directly with the software provider to get systems up and ready; however, you should understand from the very beginning what skills, resources and time are needed from IT.
It’s a safe bet to assume that IT is most concerned about data and cybersecurity. During the buying process, make sure you ask vendors about how they protect your data, when backups are performed, and how the software can be configured at the user level for additional security. For example, if both internal staff and vendors have access to the same program or mobile application, you don’t want the vendors to access everything that your internal team can see. The same is also true for software that is used by multiple departments. You don’t want every employee to be able to access what accounting can.
The second takeaway was if the software isn’t generating meaningful information, it’s not worth buying. The importance and power of strong data has been promoted by vendors and end users alike for the past few years. However, many companies are still buying software just to have more software. To hear that buying conversations and decisions are shifting from ‘what can this do’ to ‘what will this tell me’ is encouraging. Another question I’d add: how will this tool/app/platform add stronger context to the data we already have?
For example, let’s say you want to better assess energy usage and make decisions on how to lower those costs without impacting the tenant or employee experience. If you look at the energy usage alone, you’re missing critical data needed to accurately understand the impact temperature has on your customers. To get that additional context, you need the information that’s created as a byproduct of the built environment – the interactions that happen every day within your buildings. In this case, that’s the hot/cold call data. If you have that layered on top of the energy curve, you run what-if scenarios. For example, if the temperature is at X, does the number of hot/cold calls increase?
It is critical to view your building holistically – as a virtual ecosystem, where managing successfully is based on a sum of all parts, not on each part acting independently. When software platforms can ‘talk’ to each other and combine these data sources into a single, comprehensive view, the most powerful decision-making happens. You can’t make that a reality unless IT and the business users partner together to find solutions that have a meaningful impact on the business.
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Commercial Real Estate Information Management - Best Practice Showcase - 5/10/2018
Years ago, the choices were much simpler. Property Management, Accounting and Email were all you needed to run a Commercial Real Estate organization. Fast forward to today and the complexity of the industry’s information management requirements have grown exponentially. Single stack, integrated best-of-breed, and open ecosystems are all options under consideration. Databases, warehouses and now lakes, as well as new technologies such as AI, Machine Learning and Blockchain all add to the growing complexity of real estate information management strategy. Additionally, there are thousands of new companies that want to be part of the solution. Join the debate as best practices are uncovered.
Founder of Realcomm Conference Group, an education organization that produces Realcomm, IBcon and CoRE Tech, the world's leading conferences on technology, automated business solutions, intelligent buildings and energy efficiency for the commercial and corporate real estate industry. As CEO, Jim interacts with some of the largest companies globally pertaining to some of the most advanced and progressive next generation real estate projects under development.
Sam Wong is Head of Analytics and Data Science at QuadReal. He has over 15 years of experience in Analytics and has worked within numerous industries with a wide range in technologies. Sam is a featured speaker on Data Science and Analytics, most recently he spoke at the 2018 Gartner Data and Analytics Summit and at IBM THINK 2018.
Chong P. Huan is Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Inland Real Estate Group. Chong has over 22 years experience and a Proven track record in aligning business with vision and IT strategies to achieve efficient and cost-effective IT organizations. Diverse expertise in financial products and services, order and portfolio management, risk management, securities trading, processing, research and operations with IT acumen to achieve growth and enhance shareholder value.
Brian Zrimsek is Industry Principal at MRI Software. Brian brings 25 years of large scale enterprise software experience to MRI, most recently as an IT Vice President at the Irvine Company. With over a decade of experience in real estate technology he has become a well-known subject matter expert, industry panelist, and trusted advisor, especially within the multifamily real estate market.
Abhinav (Abe) is an experienced investment, financial, technology, business development and operations strategist. He is currently the Chief Revenue Officer for LEVERTON. Abe has worked with many law firms and institutions over the years and has a deep understanding of the real estate technology / CREtech / PropTech space. With LEVERTON, Abe is revolutionizing how corporations use artificial intelligence based machine and deep learning algorithms for data extraction.
Alex Stanton has over 20 years working with in the real estate application space. Currently as VP of Solution Consulting for Yardi Systems, he leads the solution presales team, who work with customers and prospects to explore how to address business needs. Alex’s recent areas of focus has been to work with clients on the real estate specific applications of cloud, mobile, 'big data' and energy.
Jeff Thompson is co-founder and CEO of AwareManager. He leads the company's commercial and corporate real estate clients’ most complex projects. By combining his industry and IT expertise, Jeff helps organizations get data models set up correctly from the very start and helps them overcome major hurdles to user adoption, data-driven decision-making and stakeholder engagement.