CRE’s Bright Tech Future

It’s not a question of whether to get onboard with technological changes, but determining which ones are the best fit for your organization and keeping close tabs on the impact of those tech innovations on your growth, panelists said at the “CRE’s Bright Tech Future” session at CRE.Converge 2017.

Technological innovations enable real-time information-gathering that informs more rapid reaction. That can translate to lowering a building’s energy costs, for example, thereby reducing expenses and increasing profits.

“In this day and age,” said Vishu Ramanathan, CEO, Buildout, “if your technology budget is going down, I don’t know what’s going on.”

The cost of tech implementation has come down, making it an easier bottom-line financial decision for companies. In addition, the ability to attract and retain high-caliber employees hinges in part on a company’s investment in technology. One such example is automating simple or tedious tasks while freeing up staff to focus on those parts of their job that best utilize their skill sets. This is particularly important for millennials, said Nick Romito, CEO and co-founder, VTS, who served as the panel’s moderator.

“Is the company investing in me through technology so I can do my job better?” posed Romito.

Chad Curry, managing director of the Center for REALTOR Technology Labs (CRT Labs) with the National Association of Realtors, discussed the Array of Things collaboration between the city of Chicago, the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. The initiative tracks a variety of environmental and infrastructure activities, such as solar impact, air quality, pedestrian traffic, and vehicular traffic. Much of his focus is on the interplay between the external and internal environments – out of those open-sourced data points are opportunities for greater efficiency and profitability in the residential and commercial sectors. There are about 100 partner cities internationally.

In all real estate sectors, customers have a growing bounty of data as they tour properties and consider transactions. However, that does not spell doom for brokers and other real estate professionals, said Constance Freedman, founder and managing partner of Moderne Ventures.

“They’re looking for the professionals to be that consultative adviser … and if they’re not getting it, then they’re going somewhere else,” Freedman said. “It’s really imperative that the industry starts to catch up with what the consumers are demanding … to stay relevant and stay ahead of the game.”

Among other pieces of counsel, a recurring theme was to “start small” with implementing new technologies.

Curry suggested devoting a few hours a week to an innovation space where a mix of staff members can conduct research, plan for the future, and begin implementing changes incrementally. Bringing on college interns to tackle an issue is also a relatively inexpensive way to innovate, he added.

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