Alec Lefort from View the Space leading the panel discussion

Alec Lefort from View the Space leading the panel discussion

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Release Date: Thursday, May 01, 2014

Media Contact: Christine Ziomek (201) 796-7788

Leading Edge Technologies add up to Enhanced Data and Mobility

UNION, N.J., May 1, 2014 – Commercial Real Estate as an industry may have been lagging behind others in terms of utilizing technology, but that’s changing dramatically. That was the message delivered by a panel of experts at NAIOP New Jersey’s “Technology Trends: Working Smarter in Commercial Real Estate” program on the campus of Kean University in Union.

“Leading edge technologies are quickly coming into play,” said Moderator Andrew Houston, vice president and principal of Cassidy Turley. “It is generating new resources and new opportunities, and Onyx Equities is on the leading edge of these changes,” he said, introducing Jonathan Schultz, Onyx’s president and CEO.

“Our industry has been lacking foresight in operating efficiently,” said Schultz. “Real estate companies have been working in ‘silos’ – everybody doing their own thing. But we have to work together, and technology brings cohesiveness. What we have done at Onyx over the past year is to look at every process and how they can be changed with technology.

“The greatest thing about it is the open environment – saving people 25 percent of their time while being constantly up to date with all the latest information at our fingertips,” said Schultz. “The key is to figure out how to integrate all of this production. There have been some bumps in the road,” he conceded, “but if you don’t go there, you won’t be competitive in this new environment.”

“The perception of technology in real estate is shifting dramatically,” agreed Chris Mangano, vice president of Mercadien Technologies. “The bottom line is that you can save time and money and become more streamlined,” he said, noting use of such opportunities as Cloud solutions, enhanced property management utilizing customized suites, and more.

“It’s where we’re all headed – connectivity, utilizing tablets, Edge and the like,” he said.

Alec Lefort of View the Space Inc. outlined how his company is streamlining the leasing process, crediting “the power of the platform. Landlords and brokers have taken to transforming the age-old process of activity reports.” His company provides online software and high-level analytics to keep abreast of the markets’ trends.

“The lack of real-time data on market demand has been a problem, but now we can show those trends in real time,” Lefort explained. “It helps industry professionals be more proactive. Ours is a moveable platform, and users can log in from anywhere, using their phone. They can automatically generate Excel reports. It lends real-time flexibility to what has been a tedious and time-consuming process.”

Houston credited CoStar with setting the industry-wide tone for the availability of data and surge of technology in commercial real estate, and CoStar Senior Account Executive Mark Catania noted that a prime benefit of such accessibility and mobility is that the information can be available “while a broker is conducting a tour for a prospective tenant. They have the ability to show the client current statistics. The data just keeps getting better and better.

“With the ability to access information on trends and recent transactions, more companies are depending on data to make decisions,” Catania said. Based on data from his company’s LoopNet brand, “we’ve found that 24 percent of searches are coming from mobile devices, and that number is growing.”

Building the Right Team

A key to the success of any project is putting together the right team, and that’s where Honest Buildings comes in, according to the company’s Geoff Lewis. Honest Buildings is an online networking platform that brings together architects; contractors and other building professionals; owners; tenants; and other stakeholders. With a network of more than 10,000 vendors, “it is a great filtering tool,” he said. “It is especially effective for smaller companies that might not have an established vendor network.”

Even for larger companies, Honest Buildings’ technology “can supplement your network,” he explained. “It’s your network on steroids, and that tends to lower price. Technology is all about making decisions more effectively and efficiently.”

“Technology enables you to do more business than you ever thought by outsourcing what you don’t do best,” said Schultz. Moreover, “technology doesn’t replace people-it makes people’s lives and careers better. People are everything in this business, and relationships are the number one asset. Technology provides the tools to make the job easier.”

“Real estate is still very much a face-to-face business,” concurred Lewis.

“The bottom line is that it takes time to understand technology and change the way you do business,” Houston concluded. “Those who don’t start adapting will regret it.”

“Today’s technology promotes collaboration and enhances our access to data and trends more quickly and efficiently, allowing businesses to make better decisions,” said Michael McGuinness, CEO of NAIOP New Jersey, the commercial real estate development association. “Our panelists have clearly made a compelling case for the industry to embrace change.”


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