In real estate technology, the law of conservation of value is simple. Like matter, value is neither created nor destroyed. Valuable solutions to difficult real estate management problems such as chronic outages, unbalanced staffing, low NOI and high energy cost all exist. Divining those solutions – bringing them to light and presenting them in an effective and usable format- is what effective real estate technology firms do. They isolate value.
The essential elements of value in real estate technology are software, hardware, service, support and, importantly, the subject matter expertise – the real estate know how – applied to all of the above. The relative value shifts from one element to the other depending on a number of external forces; yet the weight of that value, its importance to the client, remains the same.
The weight of value has been shifting lately. A short time ago, the highest value was found in the software component. Powerful internet-based systems present uniquely accessible solutions that can be accessed from anywhere. But “anywhere” is no longer unique, no longer the difference-maker. Internet-based systems are now the standard – systems extended through powerful, easy to use mobile platforms. If your organization does not have one in place, then you are swiftly becoming a relic of the old way to manage a portfolio of properties. The power has shifted away from software and with it the value of any internet-based system. The highest value lies in the real estate know-how required to the design and build that software correctly, to deploy and support that software effectively, and the industry acumen required to ensure that the software solves and continues to solve the challenge at hand.
How do you find the highest and best value?
Don’t look for some long list of functionality. Don’t look at some staid and gargantuan system that hasn’t changed in years. Ask your colleagues which vendors are best. Ask the clients of the vendors you are considering. If those clients don’t love the service and support that they receive; if they don’t talk about responsiveness, cooperation, collaboration and vision; and if they don’t see their vendor as a partner helping to lead them into the future of real estate related communications, then you are missing the value.