It is important to reflect on the big trends that are currently formulating in the commercial real estate industry.
Now more than ever, technology, automation and innovation are impacting EVERY aspect of real estate operations, regardless of what type: commercial, corporate, government or institutional. We have known for years that almost every business process in a real estate company ranging from the receptionist’s duties to the CEO’s responsibilities could be positively impacted by automation. An extreme example of ‘receptionist automation’ is the placement of a virtual concierge in the lobby of a great smart building model, Tridel Condominium project in Toronto.
For some reason, this phenomenon has been accelerating. Some say that it is just the natural adoption curve and that the commercial real estate industry is finally reaching a maturity level with respect to technology, automation and innovation. Others have speculated that it was the explosion of mobile devices like the iPad/iPhone and the cloud that were the ignition point for this increased awareness of smart buildings and rush to adoption.
It is safe to assume that we could take the leading real estate ERP vendors and combine them with the most sophisticated smart building community companies and create the most ENERGY and OPERATIONALLY efficient, TENANT FRIENDLY and EXTREMELY PROFITABLE ‘Star Trekesque’ smart buildings which would automatically reorder a light bulb 30 minutes before it was expected to burn out. The bottom line: we have most if not all the technology we need to transform our industry into a true digital, paperless, zero energy, smart, intelligent, connected, integrated, real-time, hyper-effective, tenant friendly, 21st century model.
At this point… IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE. Assuming we have the technology to make any and every process found in our industry more efficient, what is the most important aspect of this fast forward movement into this new smart building model? What we must focus on are the people who have been doing their jobs for 20 years the same way, and the organizations stuck in the same organizational structures for the last 20 years. It is time to realize that the way we have been doing things for the last 20 years needs to change.
We must educate EVERYONE that works inside a real estate company as to what is possible with technology, automation and innovation, help put aside fears of the unknown, break down organizational roadblocks and talk to our counterparts in other departments, search out global best practices, take risks, imagine the impossible, and in some cases, absolutely forget how we have been doing things for the last 20 years. Imagine what goes through a maintenance person’s mind when you tell them that every light bulb used in smart buildings in the future will be an LED that lasts 15 years and that it will have a wireless chip embedded in it that will communicate with the smart building network. In addition to the maintenance person, what does the COO and everyone else in the building operations organizational structure do with this information?
Executives representing most of the major business functions inside this global property giant are participating groundbreaking conversations to address points regarding the smart building technology adoption. Discussion points include breaking down departmental barriers, creating a unified vision and accelerating the adoption of transformative smart building projects that take full advantage of technology, automation and innovation.