For the better part of the last decade, how businesses design and utilize their physical space has been a significant concern. Whether organizations are evaluating retail space to make it more functional for customers or examining how corporate space is utilized, competing internal priorities and incredible external circumstances have made managing large portfolios of commercial space nearly impossible.
Further complicating the job is how corporate real estate professionals use technology to operate on a daily basis. Gaining insight into how your real estate is performing and what areas of improvement exist is a difficult dance because of the cross-functional nature of corporate footprints. Understanding real estate and all insight that influences it from site selection and demographic review through sales performance and renovation projects takes a ton of input. And because of the way work happens today, this also means a ton of disconnected applications and platforms.
So the question is, how are real estate professionals getting things done while being hampered by this bloated mess of systems and data? The answer to that question was the goal of research undertaken by Go-To-Market Pros on behalf of Quickbase. The study, which consisted of extensive interviews with heads of real estate from some of the largest retailers in the world including Wegmans Food Markets, Walgreens, Michaels Companies, and more, focused on how real estate is currently being managed with technology and what recommendations these leaders have for getting ahead.
In addition to the insight discussed ahead, GTM Pros researcher, Michael Phelan, also joined the Age of Agility podcast to highlight these findings and share some of his favorite stories he heard while engaging these real estate leaders.
There is No Industry Standard Platform for Managing Commercial Real Estate
The explosion of new technology solutions over the last decade plus has left most industries drowning in an imperfect, one-size-fits-all platform that is supplemented by a number of purpose-built, point solutions. For every function that needs addressing, businesses make do with workarounds for how they currently operate, or they add a new platform to their existing stack and increase cost and disconnection. For many industries though, that one-size-fits-all platform is well-defined.
However, because of the cross-functional priorities of real estate, there are no industry standard for software platforms and a wide variety of technology is used. For the most part, software is siloed in specific departments such as Real Estate, Construction, Facilities or Lease Administration. Each department relies on their own software including BIM 360, Procore, Bluebeam, ProTrack, Power BI, Autodesk, Oracle, Yardi, Salesforce and more.
Software solutions tend to be purchased and rolled out on a department-by-department basis. As a result, data sharing across groups is a major issue. When the time comes to bring data together, real estate heads waste time chasing down data and pulling it into spreadsheets or other shared locations. This means ensuring the most up-to-date information is available when decisions need to be made nearly impossible.
The Biggest Improvement Opportunities for Real Estate Technology Lies in Integrations
Historically, full-cycle real estate management has lacked a cohesive platform for all activities. So in order to connect systems and make processes operate more efficiently, integrating existing systems is a must. The technology exists to improve real estate operations, but much like all other businesses, dedicated development and IT resources are tough to come by. Luckily, no-code/low-code platforms, like Quickbase, exist to empower real estate portfolio connection and application customization without the need to rip and replace existing systems.
Integrating existing data sources streamlines the entire real estate management process. Individual technologies have been useful in managing new store builds & remodels, facilities management, M&A, franchise management, budgeting, accounting & rent payments, planning, reporting and control. None of these individual processes will work together without dedicated integration between platforms. Managing real estate portfolios in siloed systems leaves businesses at risk of missing major deadlines, like lease expirations, and mired in hours of work pulling together information for report outs.
The Ideal Solution is a Single Source of Truth Encompassing All ‘Jobs-to-be-Done'
When it comes to defining how real estate management can best be improved by technology, leaders aren’t thinking about it in terms of just picking software. They begin by defining what jobs need to be done and work from there to find the best path to accomplish that.
As researcher Michael Phelan put it, “The jobs to be done could be—I need to find a new location for the store. I need to get my budget approved for the store build. I need to manage a set of store upgrades and remodels.’ So that's how they find (their solution). Real estate directors don't really care what the technology is or how it works as long as it's easy for them to use, integrates with their other systems, and is accurate and robust.”
For real estate, jobs-to-be-done cross over many departments, so it is critical that any software solution entering the fold can support all groups. This type of platform supporting multiple departments and updating with critical information across teams is often referred to as a “single source of truth.” Departing from point solution platforms and focusing on solutions that can be customized into a single source of truth is how real estate leaders can build an ideal solution for their practice. Actually crafting an ideal real estate solution starts by bringing together each group involved in real estate processes. Once their needs are captured, the search can begin for an application that can serve the needs of each group.
Ultimately, real estate professionals need a low-code, dynamic work platform, like Quickbase, to meet their needs and integrate across systems and pull data from different departments. Dynamic platforms are readily customizable to fit the reporting and workflow needs of how your organization operates.