4 Key Takeaways from the CRE Tech Panel on How Technology Empowers Real Estate Executives

The commercial real estate technology space is buzzing with activity and interest. It’s apparent in the number of #CREtech conversations on Twitter (be sure to check us out at @Inreal_US) and in the sheer number of webinars, conferences and panels that cover topics from blockchain to virtual reality and more. Not to mention the amount of VC funding happening in the space.

Last month, we were fortunate enough to be featured on one such panel —Staying Competitive: How Technology Empowers Real Estate Executives— hosted at The Yard. Real estate gurus like Rani Gharbie (Virgin Hotels), Jake Elghanayan (TF Cornerstone), Donal Warde (HQ Capital Real Estate), joined our own Sabrina Cao for a discussion on all things CREtech and how real estate executives can  harness these new technologies to improve their business, streamline their day-to-day, and provide greater value to their clients. The panel was moderated by Zach Levin (Scannavino Law)

CRE Tech Panel


CRE Tech Panel

CRE Tech Panel

If you missed it, here are some of the big takeaways:   

#1. Technologies that have had a big impact on our businesses …

Everyone has their own success story or “ah-ha” moment with technology. For our panelists, some of the technologies that have had the biggest impact on their businesses included: QuickPay (a technology used to collect rent online), Google Maps (to help potential tenants view properties), Yardi (a rent optimization software), and the Lucy app (which enhances guest experiences).

#2. The challenges associated with bringing on new technology …

We all know that adopting new technology —whether in your personal life or for business— can come with its own fair share of challenges. Some of the specific items we talked about where the struggle that tech firms can often experience when trying to demonstrate a track record of success when they are often limited by NDAs.

Rani discussed his experience with the not-so-successful implementation of digital kiosks. The idea was conceptually bullet-proof; however, it turned out that customers preferred human interaction when they were staying at a Virgin Hotel.

Sabrina discussed how Inreal and her peers in the CRE Tech space sometimes face challenges sharing the company’s track record and past use-case examples due to confidentiality agreements. “Sometimes, the more high-profile the projects we work on, the more the client would want to keep it on the QT. But for us, gaining the trust of our clients is the No. 1 priority, so that is something we will have to sacrifice for.”

#3. Some of the technologies and trends impacting the construction design process …

Not only are new technologies impacting the way we work and do business, they’re impacting our physical spaces, too. Co-working spaces, thanks to an evolving workforce mainly brought on by technology changes as well, are requiring developers (and current property owners) to think outside the box when it comes to layout, design, amenities, technology needs and more. Similarly, driverless cars have impacted the amount of parking needed at new builds and have brought amenities like electric car charging stations into consideration. What’s more, changes in VR is giving property developers and owners the ability to show future tenants a new concept prior to any construction starting.

Sabrina said “we have been receiving an increasing number of inquiries from commercial developers who specifically ask us about the real-time floor plan configurations Inreal specializes in. The concerns we hear a lot is that landlords can’t predict whether the submarket will attract more millennials who appreciate coworking style, amenity-rich layout or more traditional institutions who prefer a more classic looking layout. And frankly, that is one of the major pain points we try to solve for our clients, and it has been proven to help them save on construction cost by understanding where there is a stronger appetite.”

#4. Technologies to watch moving forward …

Of course, it wouldn’t be a technology panel without a quick chat about technologies we’re watching for the future. Electronic lock and key systems for commercial properties was discussed, and how most of the existing products in this area are for residential properties. Another discussion was around retail leasing platforms and ways to help landlords reimagine their spaces.

Jake said he would be interested to watch how companies like Latch (that provides electronic lock and key system for commercial properties) would streamline the security check process. “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just pull up your calendar invite with a tenant who works in that building and be automatically proved to enter the building without waiting online to get your building pass?”

Thanks to everyone who joined us at The Yard for this exciting event. We’re looking forward to providing more thought leadership in the future —so, be sure to stay tuned to our social media for future announcements.