CRE Tech: A Huge Letdown and an Opportunity

It’s been a constant irritation for me that technology in commercial real estate is falling short of its potential. There’s a lot of talk about “CRE tech” and I get emails weekly about some new “game changing” tech solution but in my opinion nearly all of it looks slick on the surface and upon more diligent investigation they don’t hit the mark at all. These systems are great at tackling simple problems, but when faced with real-world complexity, they completely fall apart. In comparison to the elegant systems and processes I see in other industries our technology is frankly appalling.

I’ve given a lot of thought as to why this is. The business isn’t necessarily that complex. I think the primary reason is that the seasoned real estate professionals who understand the intricacies and nuances of the commercial real estate business really don’t understand the technology well enough to advise the technology consultants, who don’t understand the business, how the systems need to be designed and function.

Due to my meticulous nature, early in my career as a broker I started searching for the right technology solution that would allow me to manage my business and data surrounding such effectively. Over time I became frustrated as I couldn’t find anything. Then as years went on, I thought, it was because I didn’t have enough resources and that all the big companies must have sophisticated systems that make their processes streamlined and they must have robust analytic data available across a cohesive integrated platform.

Now as a principal and with more exposure to the commercial real estate universe I’ve concluded that’s not true at all. Most of the largest real estate investment and development firms are operating upon a hodgepodge of excel spreadsheets and various piecemeal solutions that solve one thing well.

As I work to build our platform at Committed Industrial, it has become an obsession of mine to do this differently and design a comprehensive and fully integrated technology platform to build our business upon. To be honest, in pursuing such I see why this is the way it is. I have invested years of thought, trial and error, and capital into designing the architecture for our systems and they are just barely reaching a point where they have the flexibility to accommodate just out basic needs adequately. It seems it will take a constant investment of my time and teams of programmers to get the system to where it needs to be over the coming years, but I am confident this can be a material competitive advantage for us in time.