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The digitization of Canadian commercial real estate

Portfolio strategy in commercial real estate has become paramount to endurance as markets react i...

Yardi SystemsPortfolio strategy in commercial real estate has become paramount to endurance as markets react in a ‘wait and see’ manner with the pandemic.

While certain sectors of the industry that were previously flourishing have become increasingly vulnerable, namely office and retail, others have shown resilience if not growth; multifamily and industrial respectively. Diversification strategies, cost-cutting initiatives and change management have become the focus. Certain technologies are playing a central role as a conduit in guiding organizations to this new phase of digitization. Let’s take a look at why digitizing is the tipping point for future-proofing your business and explore technologies at an enterprise level that will contribute to this goal.

Understand your tenant more

Tenants have always been the primary focus of the property management owner or operator and during the pandemic there has been a need for a more involved and nuanced customer engagement approach. With virtual platforms being increasingly woven into the workplace environment today, having a self-service portal and app to make lease payments, enter maintenance requests and retail sales data online, further encourages contactless transactions and engagement. From an asset management standpoint, technology that centralizes data into one online dashboard will help you analyze, report and manage tenant exposure risk. Irrespective of your tenant management plans, the fact that technology is innovating to help you assess the risk of your leasing structure should give you the confidence to fine-tune your leasing strategy from home.

Elevate the bottom line

When we’re looking at strategy and forecasting possibilities, we can agree that risk management has generally become more crucial and complex this year. CBRE research shows that 57% of companies were increasing spending on digital tech pre-COVID-19, and 70% of executives believe that spending will likely accelerate. A strong portfolio strategy should leverage technology to assist in budgeting and forecasting decision making. For example, it’s given that senior executives, asset managers and other operational managers make more informed decisions when it’s supported by reliable data. Tying your entire lease cycle, including communications, deals in your pipeline and property management stats with a comprehensive AI solution will provide you a set of leasing assumptions to drive leasing targets, forecast pipeline data and prescribe options that would be optimal for your organization’s goals. In all this, there cannot be a greater emphasis that better decisions come with better data and you can leverage good data when you have the right technologies in place.

Support your suppliers

With an emphasis on social distancing and contactless transactions, the approach towards procurement has had to evolve for property management companies and there are greater benefits to be realized with these new technologically enhanced processes. Creating a digital business model is beneficial for your vendors who have also faced similar challenges throughout COVID. An online portal allows you to manage vendor onboarding and provides these stakeholders the opportunity to view purchase orders and work orders, bid on RFPs, view invoices automatically all in real-time and establish online payment methods to eliminate cheques or manual entry. In turn, staff can manage all suppliers and contracted pricing in one place while management has full visibility over the company’s procurement lifecycle. At a time when the workforce is realizing a physical disconnect, technology is bringing together data, mobilizing operations, improving engagement and providing visibility for stronger leadership.

Encourage energy success

The future of sustainability is evolving at a rapid pace where ESG initiatives are gaining in importance in a company’s value and reporting obligations. The shift in energy management over the years has been from a place of complementing corporate strategy to becoming an integral part of a company’s culture and development entirely fueled by powerful data and portfolio-wide visibility. Check out our previous RENX article for more insights on how to implement new energy strategies post COVID-19.

Expand data access

Data has always been at the forefront of business strategy, but the significance of its application has been further amplified during the pandemic. Whether it is for managing tenant or vendor relations, energy consumption, risk assessment or budgeting and forecasting, in this unique time, there is an emphasis on collecting and disseminating data to conduct deeper and more effective analysis, with the next step of relying on predictive and prescriptive analytics to help drive decision making.

Pursue productivity

Given that every aspect of your business may be conducted virtually, businesses are proving that they can effectively have employees work from home and on the go because of technology. The rise of role-based mobile apps in CRE is only going to increase as workers need the ability to perform any task from a phone or tablet. Whether an employee is approving invoices, closing deals, managing interoffice or vendor communications or countless other business functions, the ability to perform their duties on mobile apps is necessary to help remove guesswork, control access and improve productivity. What was once the bonus of the virtual exchange pre-pandemic, has become a necessity today.

Digitizing Canadian commercial real estate was not the leading priority of business strategies before the onset of the pandemic. Through the past few months, technology has been playing a key role in improving health and safety measures, security, cost savings, and transaction speeds. The pandemic has brought to the forefront the increasing need for a touchless and tech-driven business approach. This leap towards a more digitized economy will aid in ensuring business continuity post-COVID-19 as we head towards a more dynamic future.

About Yardi

Yardi® develops and supports industry-leading investment and property management software for all types and sizes of real estate companies. Established in 1984, Yardi serves clients worldwide. For more information on how Yardi is Energized for Tomorrow, visit


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