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How To Win In Commercial Real Estate’s Digital Future With Edward Wagoner & James Pellatt

 |  1 September 2022

It may be an intimidating evolution to some, but PropTech is here to stay - so much so that Edward Wagoner, CIO for Digital at JLL states that “If you don’t take this seriously, in 5 years we won't take you seriously as you're not going to be around”.

Adopting the right PropTech solutions can have incredible benefits for your business as the future becomes more digital for commercial real estate – yet many are put off by change.


In this special episode of The ChangeMakers in CRE, Edward Wagoner is joined by James Pellatt, Director of Innovation at GPE and Tom Wallace, CEO of Re-Leased, to discuss how to effectively identify and invest in the right PropTech solutions for your business.

Here’s what we covered:

  • Why now is the time to adapt to change in CRE
  • Where to start with technology
  • There is no silver bullet
  • Managing the risks of real estate technology
  • The importance of focusing on what’s right for your business
Watch the full episode

Why is innovation important now?

Pandemic aside, the last decade has seen significant disruption in the CRE space, particularly in industries such as retail (formerly the safe bet) and industrial (previously the unsexy option) with the rapid adoption of online purchasing and delivery. It is becoming increasingly understood that what made you successful in the last few decades will not see you survive even the next five years - so innovation is not only important, it is imperative.

In an industry where data is king, previous reliance on formal reporting, based on previous data from third-party sources, is being replaced by the expectation of having timely, accurate data, specific to a business's own portfolio in the palm of your hand.

“If you don't put the infrastructure in place to have information at hand, you will always be waiting to see what the market does, and be reactive - that will always put you behind in your decision making.”
- James Pellatt, GPE

Feel the fear, and do it anyway.

“Everyone should be thinking about, and playing in this space to understand how they can deliver better for their core constituency through better use of technology and data”
- Edward Wagoner, JLL 

The pace of change for this innovation has been extremely quick and understandably, some people are uncomfortable with it.  However you need to move past the fear in order to see the opportunity, and that is where seeking external help becomes a fundamental step to success.

Seeking assistance from businesses that are experts in the fields that you need to improve in, is a key strategy for successful businesses says Edward,

“If you are trying to create your strategy with the same people you work with every day, you are going to miss a lot of things because you are inside your own box.”

There is a lot of help out there for those who want to engage in it. By reaching out to companies that fill the skills gaps within your organisation, you can tap into their expertise and move your business forward effectively.

The key is to just start the process; to have the bravery to take the first step and the patience to continue. There is always some risk in business decisions, but like with anything, it is important to acknowledge and accept some risk and actively manage it.

Where should you start?

The first question every CRE business should be asking themselves from the outset in developing their technology strategy is “What information do I need and how do I want to use it?”

This will stop you from purchasing multiple different SaaS products ad hoc and not being able to stitch them together in a way that works for your business. This often leads to more pain with duplication or silos of information.

And while it may sound easier to find a “fully stacked” solution, James Pallet confirms that, “Everyone is looking for the silver bullet - the one SaaS product that does it all, but it doesn’t exist.”

The fact is there will always be innovation, and you will always need to have a third-party solution to fit a gap. Becoming comfortable with this idea of building an ecosystem is central to a successful technology strategy.

Simply adopting a technology isn’t the end of the story, however, as without considering your people and your current processes and how they both play into the use of the new technology, you are setting yourself up for failure. As Edward says:

“Technology does not fail. It fails because it isn’t implemented right, or we are trying to make it work with legacy systems and processes, or because the end user, the staff need to be trained and retrained”

A technology strategy is a living, dynamic document that will change possibly weekly as new innovations emerge. By creating an environment whereby innovation is seen as 'business as usual' through the adoption of PropTech, businesses in the CRE industry will be best placed to thrive in the future.

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