Why new technology always struggles to gain a #CRE foothold.

There is a large and notable startup scene around CRE Technology these days. New York is the hotbed of most of it. There are companies trying to break into everything from leasing to CRM to lead generation to legal automation to site selection and many other real estate disciplines. And that right there points to the core issue that CRE Technology – it’s impossible to narrow the definition enough to make a single solution work for a broad section of the market.

In all of my years dealing with systems, there have been a handful of players trying to solve everything (Tririga, Manhattan, Accruent, FM Systems and others) and even more trying to deal with the individual pieces from Lease Administration to Contract Management to CRM to data management.

The biggest hurdle is one of data. Every discipline of CRE needs different data and different data definitions. Often the only connecting piece of information is geography (state, county, metro, zip, building) but usually data gets aggregated at varying levels but still needs to be tied back somehow. No one runs labor studies at a building level but they may run it around a drive time to a building. Few people look at absorption rates at a state level but the may at a zip level. Financial comparisons are almost always purely at the building level.

Add into this that CRE experts need to have deep capabilities in diverse areas ranging from data analyst, financial analyst, researcher, legal reviewer, client relationship skills, ability to manage a project over months or years. Finding one integrated system to handle all of this is a HUGE ask. Finding a product manager that can help a software development team get a solution off the ground is an even bigger ask.

There is a lack of people in the CRE industry that truly understand the diverse and complicated issues that need to be dealt with across the entire life of a corporate real estate team managing a property portfolio. It’s simply a matter of there not being a large enough population of people (today) to get things where they need to be for mass adoption. This isn’t to say that there are parts of the market to be captured which can lead to serious business growth but it won’t be broad CRE adoption (think Facebook level).

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