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2017 – That’s a Wrap! What’s in Store for Real Estate Technology in 2018?

Our theme for 2017 was about the 5 Phases of CRE Technology. The thinking behind this was we wanted to: 1) pinpoint the exact time when the Commercial and Corporate Real Estate industry started seriously talking about technology; 2) determine the time periods when elevated interest in CRE Tech occurred; 3) analyze which solutions were most prevalent in each phase; and 4) evaluate lessons learned about industry adoption after each specific phase.

A secondary theme that developed once we saw just how much technology our industry was dealing with was the extraordinary challenge of keeping up with all the new ideas and solutions as well as the reality of integrating them into conservative real estate organizations, which often required trying to adjust long-standing business models. We learned that most companies have limited capacity to introduce new ideas while keeping the business running, productive and profitable.



The trends we saw in 2017 will carry us into 2018. They will accelerate, become more mainstream and continue to integrate into the daily routines of Commercial and Corporate Real Estate organizations. There are other changes and developments, that if successful, could threaten traditional business models.

The following are some of the trends we will continue to keep an eye on in 2018:

Fundamental Real Estate Business Models
  • Retail, Office and Industrial Real Estate Models are in transition
  • Continued evolution of the Digital Transformation of Commercial and Corporate Real Estate
  • Space utilization becoming more science than art
  • Integration of brick and mortar and digital business models
  • Shared economy’s continued impact: UBER, Airbnb, WeWork
  • Space-as-a-Service (Saas) expands across asset classes
  • Proliferation of mobile technologies
  • Liquid Leases (flexible and fluid) continue to be defined
  • Augmented and virtual reality continue to impact design and leasing process
  • Autonomous vehicles impact ingress, egress and the design and construction of parking facilities
  • Drones and robots expand their role in real estate operations
  • Real Estate Operations and Building Data converge
  • Succession planning and transfer to Generation X and Millennials increases
CRE Tech Investments
  • A slowed pace in the creation of new CRE Tech Companies
  • Great number of consolidations and merger and acquisition activity
  • Increased closures of struggling companies and business models
  • Increased pressure on startups for market penetration or financial stability
  • Industry still looking for dominant companies and notable exits
  • An abundance of cash remains for the right opportunities, ideas and companies
Commercial & Corporate Real Estate Information Management
  • Pressure continues for systems to be more open and interoperable
  • Process automation becomes more finite and granular
  • More expansive automation reach (front occupant facing as well as back-office)
  • Greater emphasis on the UX/UI
  • Data science becomes more mainstream as its benefits increase
  • Increased use of analytics and ultimately AI
  • Legitimate blockchain and cryptocurrency applications begin to appear in the market
  • FASB deadlines loom while industry preparedness remains questionable
Smart, Connected, High-Performance, Intelligent Buildings
  • Continued moderate adoption of smart building technologies
  • The focus on wellness increases
  • IoT becomes more seamlessly integrated with traditional building automation
  • Consumer IoT forces development and adoption of technology (virtual assistants)
  • Cybersecurity and privacy issues increase
  • Sensors find their way into every piece of building equipment
  • Smart lighting continues the path to increased adoption
  • Low voltage and Power-Over-Ethernet (POE) conversations increase
  • Microgrid and off grid concepts continue to increase
The bottom line is that the pace of new technology development is not going to slow down and the commercial and corporate real estate industry must continue to figure out ways to adopt technologies into existing business models. We have still not fully reconciled Phase 4 but must now understand and consider integration of Phase 5 into our business models.

Some would argue that it would be easier to start a commercial real estate company from scratch utilizing all the new technological capabilities than to change the operational models of existing organizations. However, for the majority of real estate companies, this is not an option. 2018 will be filled with great opportunities as well as challenges. The technology is not the most challenging issue, it is our capacity as humans and organizations to change, which remains at center stage. Finding efficient and effective ways to discover, prioritize, test and implement both tactical and transformative technology will be the secret to success in the Age of Acceleration.

Jim Young, Co-Founder & CEO, Realcomm
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.

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