The corporate real estate sector is changing fast, as a result of changes in the way people work, the introduction of new technologies and the ongoing pressure on businesses to save costs wherever possible.
According to the Live Work Play 2016 report by CBRE, 78% see workplace quality as important when choosing an employer, and 69% will trade other benefits for better workspace.
Offices, for instance, now include a number of areas which simply weren’t on the radar of property professional or employees a few years ago, with breakout or collaboration areas, cafés and even gyms offered as a business benefit.
Additionally, open-plan offices are now the norm and some businesses encourage a culture of flexible working, desk-sharing and remote working. This means many do not have capacity for all staff should they all be in the office at once.
For CRE professionals and service providers, this constant change creates additional responsibilities and challenges. The trend towards shorter lease periods mean it is essential that these are closely monitored, both to ensure payments and renewals are made on time but also to help clients understand their options as their own business demands change.
Having access to information around lease data and property costs is therefore essential, as is the ability to compare these over time, against previous figures and key performance indicators. It’s important those tasked with looking after clients’ portfolios have access to the technology that can help generate such insight.
However, an industry wide survey by Qube Global Software shows that 75% of real estate professionals believe themselves to be at the early stages of their technology journey, with only 5% of businesses currently seeing themselves as tech pacesetters.
But lack of investment in this area means that companies are missing out on critical information; nowadays, technology can combine such insight with data from other systems such as CAD packages, giving those overseeing property portfolios the opportunity to overlay such information on the footprint of a property or shopping venue, making it easier to identify any areas which could potentially be freed up or where there could be improvements.
Taken one stage further, technology can also help to identify potential solutions as well as highlight problems. Take a retailer with multiple branches which is looking to move into bigger premises or open new outlets to meet customer need. The use of geographic information systems could help identify areas where there are no major competitors yet a significant local population, and even provide information on planning permissions that would be required for individual sites.
Such capability goes far beyond the day-to-day requirements around making sure premises are maintained and rent is paid – important though these are – but can give the kind of strategic insight businesses need to make critical decisions about both their own property portfolio and the wider business strategy.
This is critical in an industry where transparency is paramount; Qube Global Software’s survey also found that the sharing of information is a key concern for real estate professionals across the board, with a third of occupiers finding it difficult to justify and understand information supplied to them by service providers.
Service providers, therefore, can use technology to their advantage, allowing clients to draw on an unprecedented level of insight and to drill down into their own unique requirements. Those which can do this stand to gain from increased customer retention and new business acquisition, as well as cementing their reputation in a competitive marketplace.