Last Thursday night, I had a glimpse into the intersection of commercial real estate and technology. DMGI, EDR’s parent company, sponsored the CRE // Tech Intersect show in New York City.
It was lively. The energy in the room was as high as the noise level. There were more than 275 attendees and 40 exhibiting technology providers in the commercial real estate space. Some of the most cutting-edge applications for making deals on commercial properties were networking in this funky urban conference setting.
I attended with long-time colleagues, Jon Walker, Pat Coyne and Paul Schiffer who were there to demo EDR’s Lightbox tool, alongside with some pretty mind-blowing apps and technologies from other leading CRE tech companies—all designed to make deals happen more efficiently. In a panel moderated by Tom Byrne (former CEO of LoopNet), CEOs of the newest tech firms in the industry (average age looked to be about 30), one panelist aptly observed that it’s all about speed and efficiency in today’s deal-making environment:
“More data. More transparency. If we can all get data into people’s hands faster, it’s a win-win for everyone. And these apps need to be rapidly deployed. They can’t take users even one second longer to use.”
There were some pretty cool demos, too. A few stand-outs:
• Xceligent has a mobile app, eXplore™ iPad App, that gives commercial real estate professionals real-time access to over 50 fields of data by using a set radius or by drawing a polygon around a customized search area.
• Trepp, LLC, the recognized leader in CMBS information, has an enterprise-level solution, TreppPort 2.0, that lets users (institutional lenders, investors, etc.) evaluate and take action on their commercial real estate exposure (bonds, loans, properties) right from their tablets.
• View the Space, a new real estate technology business that creates online video tours and provides data-tracking services to commercial real estate companies, among them SL Green Realty, Vornado Realty Trust and Silverstein Properties. As VTS’s founder said, “Commercial real estate is an antiquated business, more or less reluctant to embrace technology. We thought we were a crazy enough bunch to change that. We decided we could improve the process and so far, it’s working.”
• Floored is a tech company that allows users to explore commercial property listings in virtual 3D. They gave me a vertigo-inducing virtual reality tour of office space on the 100th floor that involved a truly-frightening moment when the guy controlling it moved me slowly through the virtual wall of glass windows to hover in midair over Manhattan. Very scary, but very cool.
The common thread through the innovative solutions at CRE // Tech Connect is more data, more transparency in real-time.
Leaving the event, I thought about our industry and where it is headed. 9 to 5 work days. Email delivery. Pdf reports. These are things of the past that are quickly giving way to centralized systems that integrate data from multiple sources, allow for interactive functionality and real-time user accessibility. It’s about the theme in the room last Thursday night: Speed. Transparency. “Win-win.”
In the deal making world, clients are getting used to (and demanding) ways to access data quickly, interact with it, customize it, experience it, analyze it and act on it. The winners will be the ones who figure out a way to give clients a way to make decisions faster and better manage risk, those who break out of the old way of doing things and improve the process.
The companies I saw at CRE // Tech Intersect think that technology is here to stay in commercial real estate. I couldn’t agree more.