It is an extreme understatement to say that it’s dif- ficult to imagine life without technology. While the commercial real estate industry was slower to
adapt than other industries, technology’s impact is
increasing exponentially. In 2015, $1.9 billion was
invested in real estate technology companies around
the world and that figure increased by 36% in 2016
to $2.6 billion, according to JLL.
To be sure, technology’s power will reverberate
across the industry for years to come. A recent report
from Ten-X specifically highlights changes in both
technology and workplace culture that have combined
to reduce the market demand for office space. The
growth of cloud computing has decreased the need for
on-location server space, while the increasing obsolescence of paper filing also lowers space requirements.
At the same time, the growing trend of open floor
plans is lowering the square-foot-per-worker ratio.
Early-stage entrepreneurs were recently given space
to grow tech-related ventures in the San Francisco Bay
Area. Bishop Ranch in San Ramon, CA announced the
launch of the first integrated data innovation accelerator and collaboration community in the Bay Area, and will
provide free office space for participants during the 12-week
program. Many of the large CRE brokerages are also
embracing the tech movement with full force and have
taken on initiatives to showcase the latest technological
advances available in the industry.
Cushman & Wakefield’s acquisition of EnSite
Solutions in late 2016 is a key foundation of its critical
solutions group, combining comprehensive technologies and established partnerships with specialists
focused on the data center, telecommunications and
broadband and healthcare industries. The firm has
partnered with Lucid’s BuildingOS building intelligence software to further enhance its platform for the
next generation of energy intelligence.
In addition, Cushman & Wakefield recently
announced its partnership with MetaProp NYC to provide a point of entry for real estate technology startups.
It is intended to provide qualified startups with among
other things, fast-tracked technology, matching to
appropriate clients, partnerships, investments and
acquisition opportunities. In just a few months,
Cushman & Wakefield has been able to evaluate more
than 100 potential partners, selecting about 10% of
the relationships to cultivate.
In order to identify and deliver new technology-
driven real estate service offerings, JLL announced a
significant addition to its property technology capabili-
ties with the launch of JLL Spark. This business will
build a team that will create new products, make strate-
gic investments and incubate prop-tech startups.
Also, JLL has created advanced data analytics
tools, and acquired software and technology integration companies such as ATG, BRG and Corrigo. JLL
Spark will extend and complement this already-strong platform with the development of products,
investment in companies and incubation in startups
that can address the needs of real estate investors
CBRE Group has been a tech leader for many years.
In fact, its address- and paper-free Workplace360
offices are being rolled out around the globe. The
company has also agreements with partners to take its
elevated platform to the next level.
In August, CBRE and Kahua, a cloud-based management solution, entered into a global strategic
agreement whereby CBRE will use Kahua to manage a
wide range of projects. Earlier this year, CBRE acquired
two producers of Software as a Service/SaaS solutions:
Floored Inc. and Mainstream Software Inc. And in
May, CBRE became a founding anchor investor in
Fifth Wall Ventures Management LLC, the first significant venture capital fund focused on promising new
technologies for the built environment.
“The technology to solve real estate problems has
already been invented,” says Chandra Dhandapani,
chief digital and technology officer of CBRE. “There is
so much opportunity for better, faster and bigger data.
We just have to connect our business lives to achieve
Some companies are not only implementing tech
initiatives but also overhauling entire systems whole-
sale. Transwestern is one company that has replaced its
homegrown platform entirely with 17 finance systems
“We have begun a complete transformation, using
the HR program Workday. We went all in,” explains
Kurt Emshousen, Transwestern chief information officer. “We’ve gotten rid of data centers and all of our
data is in the cloud. We will be very streamlined in the
next year as compared with our larger competitors.”
TODAY’S TOP TOOLS
Of course, autonomous cars are the biggest headline-makers, with Lyft announcing an entire fleet just
recently, but there are completely automated systems
in due diligence, design and building facilities management. These systems use AI tech tools such as
drones, robot mapping, virtual reality, 3D graphics and
By Lisa Brown