A place for humans in real estate data architecture
Imagine an office building. What do you see? Does it have a sleek, modern interior with plenty of natural light? Do you see polished concrete floors in an oversized lobby with industrial backlit artwork adorning the walls of the elevator banks? Can you picture the rows of long narrow desks to accommodate open seating? Are the chairs ergonomic? Don’t forget conference rooms, reception areas, restrooms, and kitchens robustly stocked with gourmet espresso. Can you see it? Do you have a clear picture in your mind of this pristine new office building?
Now imagine what’s missing. It’s the most important part, some might refer to it as the building’s heart, its lifeblood. Yes, you guessed it: people. People quite literally bring a building to life. Now, think of all the people who might work in or for this new office building: receptionists, security guards, doormen, maintenance providers, salespeople, managers, executives, administrative assistants, chefs, housekeeping attendants, property managers, accountants, and so on. These people do more than just earn money in this building. They engage and collaborate. They connect and forge relationships. They create, grow, and develop the world around them. And they generate data.
The people living and working within a building’s four walls not only generate data, but they also bring it to life. Without people occupying and using its spaces, a physical building provides significantly less usable information on its own. No people equates to no leasing information, no occupancy data, no utility usage, no foot traffic reads, no sales generated, no amenities needed, no services provided, no maintenance requests, no qualitative feedback given. All of which are important measurable metrics required to make a well-informed decision. Sure, the saying goes, “location, location, location,” but why not factor in all of the “human” information now at our disposal? Probably because the process of turning data into insights has traditionally been difficult and inefficient, but as technologies evolve, that can no longer be an excuse.
“With access to the engagement and interactions of people, buildings are critical to composing the human element within data.” This statement from Julie Miner, the real estate advisory services leader at CohnReznick, rings true for all kinds of commercial real estate assets, not just the aforementioned example of an office building. Consider multifamily units, hospitals, or hotels and the human activities that regularly occur in these places. Childbirth, marriage, death, and the infinite moments in between are all taking place within the four walls of commercial real estate, which equates to multitudes of extremely valuable data.
CRE's Evolving Metric