Empowering the Front Office
I was fortunate to join a group of real estate industry thought leaders in a recent Realcomm-hosted webinar that addressed the next generation of real estate technology.
One point that all participants on the panel emphasized was the proliferation of solutions to choose from. It’s always nice to have options but determining which ones will streamline operations, boost the bottom line, reduce costs and better serve customers can be problematic. Some concepts, such as coworking, scarcely existed just a few years ago and understanding its full potential is still challenging. While the market benefits from a number of innovative options, rapid obsolescence and change-management challenges present potential pitfalls.
I learned about several intriguing technology developments from my fellow panelists. For example, the U.S. General Services Administration’s efforts to meet federal energy reduction targets by using energy analytics, retrofitting equipment and incorporating new sensing capabilities in its buildings. I also learned about Corning’s innovations in cabling technologies that free up space in buildings and introduce flexibility in delivering connectivity, bandwidth and power.
A senior product marketing manager from Signify described innovative technologies that use LED light for two-way data transmission, providing an alternative to an increasingly overburdened radio spectrum. Data is sent through light waves that are modulated at the light source and received via an integrated infrared sensor. Users plug into a special internet zone to access and transfer data. The system leverages existing lighting infrastructure and, as a line-of-sight system, provides security not available with radio wave or Wi-Fi signal transmissions.
My contribution to the discussion focused on what Yardi® sees as a key trend in property management—the shift in emphasis of software products from the back office to the front office. That means connecting people in the field who manage leases, construction projects and facilities to the central data system with mobile applications and role-based dashboards. Such tools simplify front office workers’ tasks and help them do their jobs faster and more efficiently. They also empower the front office to do its share to reduce risk and increase asset values, historically the domain of people in back office operations such as accounting and property management. Expanding data access to the back office ties to the larger issue of dissecting data and making it actionable for informed decisions.
To that end, Yardi recently launched a new software suite called Yardi® Elevate. In contrast to the traditional chief financial officer focus of property management technology investments, Yardi Elevate is tailored to a chief operating officer whose direct reports might include the leaders of leasing, asset management, construction, facilities management and other property-level users.
Yardi Elevate is a complete asset management solution encompassing operational data, deal management, market intelligence, budgeting and revenue forecasting. By extending a solution to users in the field, we provide powerful, seamless real-time insight from commercial operators to the back office. Users can gain complete deal pipeline visibility, perform building maintenance on time, obtain accurate revenue growth predictions and base decision-making on market data.
Leading commercial firms such as Prologis, Cousins Properties and PS Business Parks, have reported favorable results from using the capabilities available in Yardi Elevate.
Another of Yardi’s long-term strategic visions involves incorporating artificial intelligence into front office operations. One example is new energy management tools that help COOs and chief engineers cut portfolio consumption and expenditures and boost sustainability. All the various building control systems look and perform differently, creating significant challenges for users who must learn and manage them. Moving those functionality and data points into one normalized, cloud-based system with a single login and standardized data makes energy management much more organized and efficient. Building engineers using such a system can access not only the control system, but utility bill data, real-time master and submeter data, demand and consumption analytics, and fault detection and diagnostic alerts, all very powerful tools for optimizing building performance.
Coworking is another area whose technology has gone through a revolution in the last two years, and Yardi is devoting considerable energy to it. Today about 1% of commercial offices in the U.S. are tagged as coworking space but we believe the percentage could increase by an order of magnitude within a few years. Yardi made two acquisitions that brought us an intelligent coworking management platform, which markets short- and long-term use of shared space such as private offices, conference rooms and hot desks; and a network platform provider. These solutions comprise a one-stop technology shop for companies engaged in coworking.
As I said on the Realcomm panel, this is a great time to be involved in new-generation technologies that unify property owners, managers, tenants, investors and stakeholders in new and meaningful ways. Yardi looks forward to continuing to work with our clients and industry thought leaders throughout the process.
This Week’s Sponsor
Yardi® develops and supports industry-leading investment and property management software for all types and sizes of real estate companies. Established in 1984, Yardi is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., and serves clients worldwide. For more information on how Yardi is Energized for Tomorrow, visit www.yardi.com.
Join the most innovative Corporate Real Estate and Facilities executives from companies such as American Express, CBRE, Exxon Mobil, Google, Intel, JLL, LinkedIn, McKesson, Salesforce, Wells Fargo, and many others, as they gather to discover, discuss and debate how technology, automation and innovation will continue to impact the next generation of how we use and operate corporate facilities.
Watch this brief video and learn more!
UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
Controlling a Building from Your Phone – OCCUPANT EXPERIENCE Platforms Arrive - 2/28/2019
The initial focus in mobile technologies was on meeting room reservations; then came lighting, heating and cooling, then access control. Over the last 24 months it has become apparent that there are many more occupant experiences that can be delivered via mobile phone. Managing parking, reporting maintenance issues, ordering coffee, scheduling an exercise class, viewing security cameras, and other applications were quickly added to the list. With so many options and approaches available, what are the best strategies for occupant experience? Build versus buy, functionality selection, solution integration and ongoing support are just some of the topics to be addressed by the industries’ most respected professionals.
Chuck Niswonger has over 30 years of successful leadership experience in technology-related roles that range from operating his own consulting company (www.nicenets.com) to directing the IT strategy of a real estate investment management firm to manufacturing and technology-enabled education. Chuck has also been the chair of the Realcomm Investment Management (IM) Advisory Council for the last ten years, managing content selection for the conference educational sessions, IM forums, workshops and webinars.
Matthew Lennan has been integrating IT and building system technologies for more than 30 years. He has developed and implemented computing infrastructures for global financial firms, major healthcare facilities, manufacturing, entertainment complexes and traditional smart buildings. Most recently, Matthew has been working in software development to refine the customer experience for smart buildings in Office, Retail and Residential environments. He is currently responsible for driving Innovation across Oxford Properties’ portfolio.
Jared Summers is a motivated execution-oriented high performance individual who has extensive experience managing large-scale global programs. He brings a unique ability to understand and articulate complex technologies in a relatable way while rapidly fielding innovative capabilities. Currently Jared is the Data, Analytics & Technology Manager at ExxonMobil, delivering on the promise of transformational change enabled by digital technologies across the entire global real estate portfolio.
Joshua has over 15 years of successful leadership experience with early-stage disruptive companies. He has an extensive background in property technology, focusing on amenities that drive tenant experience across commercial real estate, multifamily residential and student housing. Josh has lead national sales and support teams with an emphasis on customer success, brand recognition, and occupant experience.
Elizabeth Dukes is the Co-Founder and CMO of iOFFICE, the leading workforce-centric IWMS software and the first 100% SaaS platform designed for the Digital Workplace. Dukes drives strategy for iOFFICE and advocates for the confluence of people and technology that unleashes the full potential of the workforce and the workplace.
As Head of Sales, Nick is responsible for leading the sales organization including domestic sales, product implementation and customer success. Nick’s 20+ years’ involvement with technology dates to the 90s when Peapod did its best to teach him UNIX. Nick’s IT responsibilities over his various positions have included End User Support, System/Platform Administration, Business Continuity Management and Project, Facilities, Procurement, Contracts & Maintenance. Most recently Nick served as Vice President at Environmental Systems Design (ESD).
Matt leads the product development and roadmap strategy for Modo Labs. With broad experience across mobile and audience engagement, along with a customer-centric mindset, he is the company’s product leader for both Workplace and Campus solutions. Matt and his development team continue to enhance the Modo no-code platform, empowering higher education and enterprise organizations to quickly create personalized applications and ensure students and employees have access to the information they need most.