As I mention in my previous post, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Logan Soya over the past year through conversations our firms have had about how we might work together to provide additional value to some of our mutual clients. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet a number of his terrific team members at a variety of industry events recently. I wanted to share parts of my conversation with Logan that may be of interest to professionals in the CRE Tech industry.
About Logan Soya, Founder & CEO of Aquicore:
Logan founded Aquicore 3 years ago while working on his MBA at Georgetown, he is an accomplished triathlete and a technologist at heart (although he prefers a straight razor, to the high-tech razonrs on the market).
Aquicore is a real-time energy monitoring solution for large commercial real estate properties. They install web-enabled meters for electricity, water, and gas data in buildings. The software then pulls that data on a real-time basis for commercial real estate portfolios, and uses that data to help reduce the building’s energy footprint.
Let’s get back to our conversation…
Scott: Let’s shift gears a bit, talk about our topic, and get your perspective on things. I’m very interested to hear what you think are some of those unique benefits now available to commercial real estate firms, particularly the larger ones, just based on this recent influx of new technologies in the marketplace. You’ve been doing this for a few years now, so I’d love to hear what your thoughts are there.
Logan: I think there is a couple of themes here that are really important for larger organizations to understand, and how technology impacts it. It’s something that I personally have a keen interest in, beyond just what Acquicore brings to the table, but it’s generally is what the marketplace is starting to see. Also, seeing how this intersection of technology and commercial real estate is bringing in almost a cultural impact to help people make decisions.
I think there are a couple of important things… One is that technology brings in a capability to have real-time access to information, especially for senior-level executives, that previously were sort of monthly reports, or even quarterly reports at times, and that’s a key factor that is helping to improve the velocity of an organization, meaning that that organization now can make decisions that are quicker paced, and ultimately get to the piece of business that they can have the most value in.
That’s super exciting to see, and it’s even happening not just at the young corporate space, but even at the larger organization stage. I think it’s going to make a huge impact on who becomes the leaders of the industry, and who ends up potentially getting left behind. The second piece I find that’s really fascinating to me, is that there is a lot more collaborative tools out there, so being able to share information from the front line all the way up to senior executive is a lot easier now.
There’s not as many layers of communications, or bounces, if you will, from person, to person, to person, where you could potentially play a little bit of telephone and then lose that message fidelity by the time it gets to the last person, because all of that is being captured in technology, so it becomes this seamless transition from one piece of the organization to another.
Scott: Sure. Two primary drivers. The accessed information in real time, and I think that’s a great point, the transition from periodic, the sort of the standard thing we’re all used to, where you get a monthly report or the quarterly report. Then, the layers of communication. It sounds like what you’re saying there, too, is communication with context now because it’s captured in the course of conducting business and the activities that it relates to.
Logan: Yeah. Just as an example that’s maybe outside of the CRE industry, and then transitioning back to something that is more directly applicable. As a business owner who is very highly focused on being data-driven ourselves within our organizations, we leverage a number of business automation tools to help us with sales, to help us with marketing and finance, and product iteration, and all those tools communicate with each other and make the collaboration from our marketing to our sales, that transition is much easier.
You find much less issues around sort of siloing effects that’s between these two different departments and what their end purposes are, and then in terms of the real-time aspect, I can open up my phone and see exactly what my pipeline is at a moment’s notice. All that information comes from the tools that my sales teams are using, or my marketing teams are using, and allows me to make faster decisions as an executive. Right?
Logan: I find that that’s very exciting, that a tool like Building Engines, for example, or some of the other tools that we’re seeing on the market around broker servicing, and monitoring, and tracking, and things like that, are all becoming much more accessible to the senior levels of an organization and making that possible, where before it was just that periodic monthly report on how your leasing is doing.
Scott: I completely agree with you. Perhaps one other point on the data piece of it and the information is the transition from the old Excel style structure of rows, and columns, and layers of information, the presentation layer changing to be much more visual in nature. You mentioned the pipeline. Any thoughts there in terms of the impact of that, in terms of the people’s ability to consume the information?
Logan: Oh, yeah. I think usability is a huge asset that has become very obvious on a number of other business verticals. I think that in the commercial real estate industry you’re finally starting to see a couple of these tech firms really break out with that capability. I think that’s going to really signal sort of a best of breed practice that starts to appear now, in the different technology companies that focus. Usability is going to be key, because in the end of the day, what is exciting about where technology is today is that you’re transitioning from the state where technology could go 80% of the way, but then you would still need an IT department, or you’d still need some sort of an engineer or something to take it to the last mile.
Logan: Now, where technology is reaching us with … In the age of the iPhone and things of that nature, you really are getting to the point where the value creation will reach an end user, and the end user doesn’t have to know anything about the internals of the technology itself, and that speaks for its focus on usability and design, to make sure it’s easily understood.
Scott: Yeah. Absolutely. I completely agree with you. It’s a good place for all of us to get to. It’s interesting, when you think about the concept and as you’re applying it, and thinking about it in terms of larger organizations and some of the bigger firms that you work with. As a startup, and we were a startup a few years before you were, but still feel that way, nimbleness and agility have always been the weapons of choice for smaller companies competing against larger firms.
How do you feel about large organizations being able to embrace the capabilities that you just talked about and kind of make that shift and doing it in a relatively short period of time, as opposed to what we usually think about in terms of the time frames for larger companies?
Logan: I think psychologically it could be a challenging shift for a couple of organizations, just because it’s not a mentality that’s very widely adopted, or it’s not as easily understood, for larger organizations, but the reality is that it is possible now, today, that an organization the size of Apple could have this type of real-time access to information. A lot of that, I think, is contributed by these integrated solutions.
From my perspective, one way that these larger organizations can start approaching this problem and tackling it is to say, hey, look, this isn’t going to be a marketplace where one shop solves all of your problems anymore. It’s going to be a multi-vendor solution, where there are a number of players that are the best at what they do. They’re highly focused companies, but they all play nice with each other and they all integrate with each other, and as a result you’re going to have this solution that is continuing to be nimble and modular in nature. Right?
Scott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Logan: As a result, your organization can be nimble and modular in nature.
Scott: Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think it’s an interesting perspective, because with that sentiment, I believe if that’s the position that a company would take, then obviously the requirement on the vendors is that they’re building their applications in a way that allows them to meet the requirement. That they have APIs, open APIs that they can share information, and, as you said, play nicely with each other.
Logan: In this era where things are a lot more transparent these days, organizations really have to prove themselves that they’re adding true value, and as a result they have to have open-data sharing. If your data is yours as a customer, and any organization or any type of vendor that doesn’t follow that philosophy will get left behind over the next three or five years.