Property Biz Canada

Choosing a CRE Tech Platform: Find a solution you’ll stick with


Today’s CRE Tech space hardly resembles the world in which my co-founders and I launched VTS in 2012. Back then, only a few startups were knocking on doors and begging people to look at mocked-up versions of their offerings.

Nick Romito

CRE Tech Columnist Nick Romito is the founder and CEO of VTS. (Image courtesy VTS)

Today, thousands of tech solutions are on the market. There’s growing awareness about the benefits these solutions provide, including accelerated deal conversion and reduced downtime, enhanced tenant experience, and more efficient team collaboration. 

With landlords and brokers evaluating a wider selection of offerings, they still need to ask all the questions common to any software selection process: How does the product help me? Are my peers using it? What does it cost?

There’s also a new question that’s critical for landlords and brokers to ask: how “sticky” is the proposed solution?

Okay, so what do we mean by “sticky”?

Basically, a sticky technology solution is one so useful to your team they spend most of their day working in it. They continuously use it to perform critical aspects of their job and they’d be up in arms if it were taken away.

The iPhone is definitely “sticky”

The iPhone is a perfect example.

It’s obviously no longer used solely for voice calls. These days, that’s low on its list of real-life functions.

People carry their iPhones all day long. It helps them live their daily lives.

Need transport? Request an Uber. Listening to your favourite tunes? Plug in your earbuds and open Spotify. Approving a leasing deal? Do so directly using the VTS app.

People go crazy when they lose their phones! Not only are they immediately cut off from the world, but their ability to perform basic daily tasks is severely impaired.

You should aim for the same level of necessity from your technology investment.

Why stickiness matters in CRE Tech

To draw value from your new technology investment, you and your team must embrace and actually use the solution. If your team doesn’t use it and doesn’t like using it, your investment is effectively wasted. Plus, you won’t be reaping the software’s benefits.

But achieving a high degree of “stickiness” isn’t easy. VTS, for example, has an entire team dedicated to regularly talking with our users to understand their major day-to-day pain points, and what their processes look like offline, to ensure their VTS platform experience is as sticky, and adds as much value, as possible.

What makes a platform “sticky”?

Here are four features to look for when evaluating potential solutions:

* It’s intuitive and easy to use: If your team initially logs in to a new CRE Tech tool and needs extensive instructions, it’s unlikely you’ll be adopting that tool. Take Facebook: there’s no manual needed. From the moment you log in, it’s instantly clear what you need to do to add friends or share news. Tech software should be equally simple. A good leasing and asset management platform, for example, should make it immediately clear how to add a new deal, pinpoint tenant information and share a leasing update, among other actions.

* It integrates well with other key systems: If you’re already using various other software platforms, don’t think of your next purchase within a silo. Good CRE Tech software should “play well with others” and integrate easily with other tools. This enables you to connect your company’s information so that you can act on it, instead of forcing your team to log in to different systems, which is tedious and time consuming.

* There’s ongoing user engagement: Everyone likes a shiny new toy, but in the early days of a new technology, users can get easily distracted if you don’t have a good plan to manage change and encourage adoption. Look for technology firms that have made a serious investment in their Customer Success team. This will give you access to solid account management and support services that can help you build a plan to engage and excite.

* Providers view you as a partner and welcome your feedback: A good software platform can’t be stagnant. Today’s CRE Tech products are continuously improving and evolving. A sticky platform actively invites customers’ ideas and concerns. It tracks their changing needs. Tech companies won’t build in your ideas overnight, but feedback will be incorporated into their conversations about future product strategy. And when team members are contributing to the future of a product, they’ll start to feel a sense of ownership. They’ll be more likely to use it and even champion it.

 The word “sticky” may sound casual and chatty, but don’t let its simplicity distract you.

“Stickiness” needs to be a major driver when making technology investment decisions.

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Nick Romito

About the Author ()

Nick Romito is the founder and CEO of VTS, the fastest growing technology platform in the history of commercial real estate. VTS’ leasing and asset management platform manages over 6B square feet globally, with clients including Blackstone, Boston Properties, Tishman Speyer, JLL, CBRE and Cushman & Wakefield. Nick started his career in commercial real estate 12 years ago as a tenant rep and landlord broker at New York City’s Murray Hill Properties. There, he expanded U.S. presence of international companies while assisting in growing the firm’s 8-million square-foot office portfolio. He went on to oversee a 3-million square-foot office portfolio at AM Properties before becoming founder and CEO of Titan Advisors in 2009. While leading the full-service commercial real estate firm, Nick realized the need for a technology platform to help centralize leasing activity, analytics, and marketing. With that, VTS was born in 2012. Nick has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Entrepreneur Magazine. He has spoken at Harvard Business School’s renowned Technology Cyberposium and the Empire Startups NY FinTech Conference. What’s more, Nick is a self-professed outdoor enthusiast, with several awards in surfing.

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