DisruptCRE NYC: State of CREtech (The Executive POV)

On March 29th, 2018, a panel of CRE executives gathered at the 4th Annual DisruptCRE New York City  event to discuss the impact of technology on the industry from their perspective as leaders. The panelists were:

How has technology changed your business?

Tarrach addressed the question of investment strategy changes citing inspiration from WeWork’s innovation of workplace culture and structure. His company passed on investments early on, unable to see a distinction in WeWork from Regus.

Since then, they have added “a two hundred million dollar fund to invest in venture capital venture capital perspective in technology and innovation within the real estate space as well as within some of her fields other verticals…there’s been the addition of new employment within the company as well as just an overall change in the mindset.”

How are you evaluating the technologies that you are ultimately implementing?

Jacolow answered this question by explaining how his group’s investment strategy looks at the real estate background of the potential tech implementation or investment.

It really starts with solving a problem,” Jacolow said. “We’re looking at the people who are behind the company…do they have real estate expertise? Because a lot of startups that we’ve looked at don’t really understand the business so they’re not really sure how to navigate. Is its scalable, is it open to connect walking people walking through a turnstile versus our energy systems.  ”

Meanwhile, Berman explained the following criteria for figuring out if the new tech is a true improvement. “We use the 10x rule,” Berman said. “Essentially, is this product software solution 10x better than what we’re currently deploying in our portfolio?” Think about changing someone’s behavior. To retrain someone to use a system that’s not 10x better, it’s not worth the pain of learning that system.

What are your top priorities as they relate to technology for your building portfolios or investment portfolios?

Berman explained how his strategy was less about prioritizing pain points, such as rent payment, a common target for tech solutions, but rather a holistic examination of the real estate industry’s trajectory.

“We try not to get too deeply into the weeds of any given pain item,” Berman said. “we’re trying to look at the at the overall strategy of where real estate is going…there’s no specific thing that we’re looking at, we’re trying to look at the whole pie.”

Jacolow explains, “People want services whenever they want them . It can range from opening a work order to conducting a virtual tour. We’re looking at virtual reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence to see patterns and trends ahead of the curve and be proactive instead of reactive. It has to improve the value of what were doing and not just nice to have.

How are you preparing your building to meet the expectation of constant connectivity?

Jacolow explained the greater emphasis placed on strong connectivity, and how this requires greater attention given the expectation of constant smartphone connection.

“I’ll use the World Trade Center as a perfect example,” Jacolow said. “IT…has a big hand in that from the network that runs the building to how everything’s connected. We’re working closely with our operations department…there’s Wi-Fi everywhere so that no matter whether you’re…three floors in the sub-basement or in the elevator the building is all connected”

What are you most excited to see mature in the market or be built that does not yet exist?

The panelists agreed that the VR and AR space hold enormous potential for the real estate industry, from offering better tour experiences to improved amenities for tenants and advertising. However, they also tended to agree that the technology was not quite ready yet.

Berman says “VR has limitless potential.”

Tarrach explained some of the future opportunities that intrigued him about VR.

“If we permit the tenants in our building to also buy the virtual space outside of our building at their floors and put some branding or logo on that…that’s an entirely new aspect of real estate that we’re trying to understand,” he said. “But the challenge that we’re up against is- there is no legal framework in place right now to manage this. Who owns that virtual space outside of our buildings? We’re trying to understand what the right approach is to manage this when it starts coming down the pike. ”