Property Biz Canada

Digital Footrace: Landlords need to know tech options today


As CRE tech continues its rapid advancement, landlords who haven’t done so need to make moves to bring their technological capabilities up to speed.

Nick Romito

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

The benefits, including revenue optimization and workflow efficiencies, are becoming increasingly clear.

But perhaps more important, yet less obvious, are the risks of non-adoption. The great likelihood is that technology non-adopters will find themselves facing existential business challenges in the near-term.

The scariest part? They don’t even realize it.

From our perspective, non-adopters are at considerable risk of compromising their potential abilities to first, access actionable data insights; second, attract institutional capital; third, attract and retain talent; and fourth, manage tenant relationships.

Data is the new oil – how are your reserves looking?

Access to aggregated, accurate, up-to-date data is quickly becoming a source of competitive advantage for landlords. Why?

Forty years ago, management guru Peter Drucker said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” That’s as relevant today as ever.

Armed with software, many landlords are starting to collect and analyze information about activities across their businesses, in close to real-time, to assess and optimize performance.

For example, a landlord tracking the number of leads by available space can identify which marketing strategies are generating the most tenant demand, and then decide proactively to allocate more resources to those strategies. These decisions can have real bottom-line impact – but those lacking the data never get to decide.

Good investors will demand the information only good technology can offer

With the institutionalization of CRE, large investors are increasingly coming to expect that the level of transparency into their real estate holdings is on par with that of their holdings in equities or bonds.

The implications for landlords? When investors are deciding where to allocate capital, landlords offering easily-accessible reporting which yields critical portfolio-wide insights will undoubtedly have the upper hand.

Technology matters in the attraction and retention of high-quality talent

The next generation of workforce talent has hardly known a world in which smartphones and apps weren’t ubiquitous. So it’s natural they’ll expect to harness technology at work.

Firms compete fiercely for talent and employee enablement, alongside an innovative culture, can be decisive for candidates evaluating your business.

Employer perspective on CRE tech

Let’s shift to the employer perspective.

You budget significantly for recruitment and compensation. Do you want this expensive employee pool spending time on manual, time-sucking activities which can be automated or performed in seconds by software?

Take a moment to consider how an up-leveled tech game unlocks the value of great talent by freeing them up to focus on the most complex and pressing issues facing an organization.  

Well-planned and aligned technology makes for better business with tenants

Over the past few years, we’ve started to see a fundamental shift from a property-focused industry to a tenant-centric one. Simply, happy, satisfied tenants are more likely to renew their leases, and renewing leases means revenue.

Evolving technologies will play a significant role in the overarching level of service that landlords provides for their tenants in two main ways.

First, consider your overall approach to tenant relationship management. Are you recording critical tenant information in a way that is easily accessible by all team members? If a tenant terminates their lease are you surprised, or do you have insight into every interaction they’ve had with your team over the course of their lease?

A substantial number of landlords would answer “no” to both questions. Software can significantly streamline tenant management by giving portfolio managers the ability to proactively manage relationships and address any risks in their infancy.

Second, the experience of tenants in the physical workplace is important too. Think connectivity, ambient office temperature, even building access.

New level of comfort and enablement

Many landlords are using technology to provide a new level of comfort and enablement that increases the satisfaction of the everyday occupants of a space, delivering value in a variety of new ways.   

No question, it can be a challenge to keep up as the rapid pace of change in technology marches on. Landlords who are not tech savvy might not be sure what to look for.

A great first step in identifying the right solutions is fully understanding the problems to be solved. There’s no better way to identify such problems than honest dialogue with team members about the specific pain-points they face daily.

Realize that you can’t boil the ocean overnight, but that enough nimble small steps in the right direction will ultimately create a critical mass for scaling.

Read more from: CRE Tech: Riding the Digital WaveFeatured ColumnsProperty Biz Canada

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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