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Corporate real estate outsourcing, tech and innovation: the 3 big questions

If you haven’t noticed lately, corporate real estate (CRE) technology has become the darling of the tech world, attracting venture capital and corporate attention like no other time in history. Buildings and the technology that lies within them have become symbiotic beasts, requiring CRE executives—clients and service providers alike—to understand how technology can benefit CRE strategies and operations.

We sat down with Terry Harris, Managing Director of Innovation and Product Development at JLL, to discuss how technology and innovation are influencing the whole CRE sector:

How is technology transforming CRE outsourcing?

Harris: The largest CRE service providers have been early adopters of technology innovations, using advanced data and technology to deliver significant operating advantages to client corporations. Highly efficient building operations, advanced amenities and workplace services, data-driven workplace and portfolio strategies for greater business agility are just a few of the numerous benefits being realized. Strategic new investments, partnerships and acquisitions make this integrated delivery of CRE and technology services a reality.

What obstacles are preventing greater CRE technology adoption?

Harris: Making the right technology decisions—and finding the talent to use it—requires a level of investment and resources that not every CRE organization is willing or able to make. At JLL, we are currently tracking 60 to 70 tech start-ups, including making direct investments in some, acquiring others, confirming enterprise-level services agreements, hiring top tech talent and much more.

Why is innovation such an important buzz word in CRE right now?

Harris: Investment in innovation benefits both our company and clients alike, and the benefits become more obvious when we are at the forefront of technological advances. It makes us better at what we do. For instance, the intersection of smart building technologies, mobile apps, and automated facility management tools makes it possible for our clients to gain competitive advantage by offering advanced workplace amenities and services that help attract and retain talent. Having an innovation mandate and culture of innovation is essential to keep up with technology. Having senior leaders on board and innovation incentives and programs for employees breeds an innovation mindset.