As technology continues to evolve, so do the possibilities and challenges in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. During the recent RETCON 2024 conference, experts shared key insights on cybersecurity, AI, data management, and the optimization of CRE operations—all thanks to evolving tech. 

Cybersecurity in CRE 

Ilan Zachar, Chief Technology Officer at Carr Properties, said during his presentation, “Spot Testing – The Next Layer of Cybersecurity,” that the CRE industry has primarily focused on securing networks, gateways, and computers. But there’s more to it. 

In an era where commercial buildings are integrating a variety of IoT devices to enhance operational efficiency, energy management, security, and overall building performance, a holistic view of cybersecurity is a necessity. 

Particularly, as companies feel the pressure to modernize, do more with less, and leverage technology, risk continues to climb. And it’s not just what’s within your own walls. You need to take into consideration any risk you’re open to with the vendors and other third parties you work with. 

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With technology on the rise, customer expectations are also evolving. Thus, risk management and security extend beyond and overlap with cybersecurity concerns.  

Take, for instance, mobile and keyless entry into buildings, which is becoming more and more common. Speaking during the “Master Management: Operating Efficient and Prosperous Properties with Technology” panel, Aaron Altscher, Director of Technology Initiatives at Carr Properties, said a recent survey of customers found that mobile and keyless entry is the top ask.  

The question becomes a tale of two securities: one physical and one digital. How do you ensure your visitor management processes are secure, both at your asset and with the tech you use? You need to ensure you can securely manage visitors from one platform. 

Data and AI in CRE 

Sandy Jacolow, Chief Technology Officer of Empire State Realty Trust, echoed similar sentiments. He emphasized the vital role wireless networks are playing in reshaping the CRE landscape.  

“Buildings have always been run by people, which is very costly. Wireless networks have changed everything, and devices are always used to track data, inventory, and everything else,” he said during the “Masterful Management” panel. 

And with artificial intelligence (AI) becoming more and more prevalent in CRE, security concerns are, of course, top of mind for many in the industry. While AI is still in its infancy, Jacolow said, analyzing data has become an exciting opportunity for its use case. 

However, he said governance must be in place to validate the data. “Without clean data, it’s not worthy,” Jacolow said. “Data is the new oil; it helps everything run and connects the dots.” 

That being said, Jacolow advised that cybersecurity is not just IT’s responsibility. Rather, it’s everyone’s job to make sure data is secure. “Training and collaboration are essential,” he said. “Protect your data!” 

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The deepening integration of technology within operational practices is here to stay for the CRE industry. Ensuring a solid cybersecurity framework, using AI responsibly, and prioritizing data integrity are steps toward a more efficient and secure CRE industry. 

Download the free report “The state of commercial real estate property management for 2024” to learn more about how technology is affecting the CRE industry.