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Selecting The Best CRE Technology For Your Business: Questions To Ask

 |  26 January 2021

Five years ago, Proptech and CRE tech were far from common terms. Fintech had already taken off but it wasn't impacting the commercial property industry yet. 

Fast forward to today and we’re operating in a completely different world, with an almost endless list of new software solutions on offer for the commercial property space. The events of the past nine months have only accelerated the innovation taking place and the need for companies to leverage smart tools to adapt, recover, and drive ongoing growth. 

Re-Leased recently hosted a webinar to discuss how to cut through the noise and find the right technology solutions to benefit your business. You can watch the full webinar here with insights from experts from PwC CanadaIREM, and Avison Young

Here are some of the highlights:

Now is the time to disrupt or be disrupted

The commercial real estate industry typically has not adopted new technologies at the same speed as other sectors but Jordan Bennett, Partner - Cloud Finance, at PWC Canada, says this attitude must quickly change for companies to ensure longevity.

“The industry hasn't faced a lot of disruption yet from other competitors. In the taxi business, Uber and Lyft have significantly disrupted transportation worldwide, but I can't think of a similar player in real estate that has caused the same level of disruption. But there seems to be an awareness now that it is a risk so you need to disrupt yourself before you are disrupted.”

Jordan Bennett, Partner - Cloud Finance, PwC

“COVID has really forced property managers to be more online and to leave the paper alone. I think, by nature, property managers are hoarders, especially the older generations. For some reason, we just like to hold on to our hard files. We like to be able to grab our lease file and go through it. Now, we have to be able to do things on the move and be able to work from home. I hadn't heard the word Zoom before March. It's really forcing those in our industry to really get up to speed on technology, because it's very difficult to operate without it.”

Natalie Allred, Principal & VP of Real Estate Management Services, Avison Young

Evaluating technology - key questions to ask and what to know

With so many offerings now in the market, it can be overwhelming to try and evaluate which piece of software will help you solve the challenges you’re facing and also align with your business goals. These are some of the key questions to ask and key considerations to factor in when reviewing solutions. 

“Ask yourself:

  • How will it make my job easier?
  • How will it make my work more efficient? 

And then, of course, consider the return on investment:

  • How much does it cost versus the time it’s going to take me to shutdown, reconfigure, and put that into my Proptech stack? 
  • Is it going to cause my staff headaches by making the transition?
  • How long is that transition and what’s the cost?”

Chip Watts, President, IREM

“It comes down to three things in my mind:

  • The first is, what risk can we mitigate with it and how serious is that risk that we’re mitigating? This could be the loss of data or your best-performing staff member leaving. What impact is that going to have?
  • Secondly, can it lower our costs? Obviously, with COVID, we're all looking at our bottom line and how we can improve and be more efficient with our costs.
  • The third one is about driving revenue - how do you bring extra capacity into your organization? 

When you buy an additional property or when you take on extra leases, how are you going to handle that? Do you need to hire an extra person or can you increase your bandwidth and capacity with the team and the resources that you've got right now?

By combining those three things and prioritizing them, that's where you're going to come up with the right answers and the right decisions.”

Clive Cooper, Global Head of Sales, Re-Leased

Aligning solutions to your long-term strategy

It’s important to examine potential solutions for their long-term impact on your business as well as what they can do immediately. But understanding what will work best for your needs, your existing tech stack, and your goals over the next five years requires first defining your pains and your ideal end state. 

“Understand what problem you think you're trying to solve and check that you have consensus with others in your organization that it’s actually a problem worth solving. Spending time on defining the problem early is really important.

It's also really important to think about the impact five years from now. Are the problems you're solving going to unlock capacity in your business to become more profitable in line with your strategy? Or are you solving a pain point just because it's frustrating on a daily basis and you don't like it?

Think about the processes that your organization is going to have to revise and change so that you actually make use of the functionality in the software. You have to modify the way you work with that piece of software in order to get any benefit from it. You can't just stick it in and hope everyone knows how to use it.”

Jordan Bennett, Partner - Cloud Finance, PwC Canada

>>> Watch the full webinar replay


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