CRE Midwest

Technology in Commercial Real Estate experts say data, analytics, and sustainability all key factors in today's market

[ Tony Iannessa with Leopardo Companies, Inc., addresses the crowd at the Technology in Commercial Real Estate conference March 8. Photo by CloudSpotter.

A morning crowd of more than 125 industry and business professionals gathered at 1871 inside the Merchandise Mart March 8, for Illinois Real Estate Journal's Technology in Commercial Real Estate conference.

A morning crowd of industry and business professionals gathered at 1871 inside the Merchandise Mart March 8, for Illinois Real Estate Journal's Technology in Commercial Real Estate conference.

Tech pros discussed today's new technologies in design, construction, management and leasing, and shared their thoughts on how tech is changing the commercial real estate market. Experts also discussed how to invest in technology start-ups.

Some of the major highlights panels included discussion on sustainability, drones, 3D renderings and data analytics.

Tony Iannessa, vice president at Leopardo Companies, Inc., said one of the biggest tech pieces for virtual design and construction, is B.I.M. (Building Information Model). This 3D Model provides a way for easier collaboration and efficiency.

When asked about sustainability, Kevin McLennan, senior vice president at CBRE, said that from an occupiers perspective, there are three categories of sustainability--ecological, social and economic. He explained that while ecological tends to be more "blue bin," it's social and economic that have become more of the focus. "Efficient" is the buzzword these days and McLennan said the biggest questions today are how they can help their clients fit on the economic and social side.

Building out is an option, and he explained that the industry has been seeing tech enter the design-making process. McLennan referred to Workplace360, an innovative way of working.

In the retail market sector, one of the biggest challenges with retailers today is that although they are expanding worldwide, it's difficult to get them to come to the industry. Deena Zimmerman, vice president of SVN|Chicago Commercial, said it's time to start making decisions.

One way is through the use of drone technology and not just the ones that hover outside and snap pictures, but utilizing them inside buildings, too. She said this method appears to double production.

3D renderings also end up saving retailers a great amount of money, according to Zimmerman. She said it's because you can come to a decision just by looking at the rendering once and doesn't require going to the site. This is not only a cost-efficient method, but also saves a lot of time. Zimmerman said she's received good feedback.

"I've been able to triple my production in the past two to three months," she noted.

The availability of real data is also changing the industry. Marc Rutzen, data officer at KIG Analytics, said being able to see who opens it and who they forward it to, along with demographic data, allows them to be more predictive and use predictive analysis.

"We are using tools and analytics to help us," he said. "Predictive analytics is a huge piece of our advisory."

Cory Roberts, senior real estate manager at CBRE Asset Services Group, said technology is making the industry easier. He said from a moderator side, it helps with monitoring the whole building, checking fan speed and increasing better quality.

Rutzen mentioned that transit data has been available for a while, but it continues to improve. It is able to show how people are traveling in the city and you're able to respond in real time.

"If you could collect data in real time how people circulate property, architects will use it more," he added. "You're able to say 'this is what's going to happen.'"

Other ways real time data is proving to be a great component today is through walkability scores and CTA ridership scores.

McLennan said one of the biggest concerns for his clients is energy usage and how to reduce it. He said it requires using less space.

"The spaces we are designing now is by looking at data and finding that not everyone comes to the office everyday," he said. "The social piece is front and center: how do we make office space more collaborative?"

When Chad Curry, moderator and managing director for the Center for REALTOR Technology, asked what customers are looking for and what they want to see, panelists all agreed and said it comes down to flexibility, amenities and space.

Investing in tech startups, panelists agreed, requires talking to customers, going to friends and family for financial support, putting together a team that can provide input and assistance, and educating yourself.