Intelligent buildings: Real estate moves to the cloud

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The way we move through the world continues to be altered by COVID-19. The seemingly mundane choices that once upon a time we made day in and day out – without so much as a second thought – are now the same thoughts compelling (and forcing) us to change how we work, where we work, and the thrust of what we do for work.

For commercial real estate, the future is tied to people – specifically their emotions. So, what will it take for companies to prosper in a post-COVID landscape?

Real estate, like the rest of business, has to factor in emotion

The wave of pandemic precautions and preventatives will continue to ebb and flow for the next 12-18 months. While some of us around the globe emerge from the newness of a pandemic, others will be continually adapting to life in the midst of one – meaning temporary fixes won’t be enough.

Given the continued uncertainty of vaccines, mutations, and second waves, how businesses think and feel about office and retail space is bound to change, as the related quarantine directives forced many companies into remote-work realities. 

Commercial real estate will need to consider people’s emotions, as location, location, location gives way to tenant satisfaction ruling all. Let’s tackle some of the feelings of the 2020 (and post-2020) workforce:

  • Fear—people are scared. They want control over their personal space, which is now at least a 6′ circle.
  • Frustration—”the way it’s always been done” is gone, but people still want to feel in control.
  • Freedom—the vigilance necessary to stay safe has people feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of following protocol and ensuring that others do, too.
  • Value—the economic hit at personal and professional levels has been devastating. Spending feels risky without a guarantee.

Intelligent buildings benefits: After a wake-up call, commercial real estate moves forward

Companies previously of the mindset that remote work simply wasn’t a viable option for them are undergoing a reality-altering revelation. Indeed, remote work is here to stay.

Meanwhile, selling and maintaining commercial space cannot remain unchanged. Appealing to the new priorities can be done by reframing what you sell and underscoring the value.

Some of the benefits of intelligent buildings: 

  1. Confidence—promote the ability to weather changes and enforce safety guidelines within the space.
  2. Information—having spent weeks and months tracking numbers and procedures, people have expectations of accessing data.
  3. Efficiency—surviving less cash flow, scaled back workforce, and shaky supply chain heightens the need for streamlining.
  4. Safety—elevators, cars, lobbies, spaces that used to be shared are now suspect.
  5. Digital—everyone spent more time online. We are moments from an absence in digital being tantamount to not existing.

Cloud-based partnerships FTW

The difference between signing leases and posting For Rent signs just might be leveraging insights to create demonstrable customer service and savings. Thanks to the instinct and drive of companies that innovate to make us more agile and informed, new tools are emerging to help.

A relatively new alliance between Honeywell and SAP focuses on harnessing data to improve the workplace. The idea is to simplify the highly decentralized nature of commercial real estate data that informs rental rates, measures efficiencies, and plans improvements.

Based on Honeywell’s history of leveraging machine-learning models to operational technology, and SAP Cloud for Real Estate, the collaboration offers an intuitive cloud-based solution, meeting the financial demands and environmental expectations of a post-COVID work environment.

  • Decreased energy costs— the Honeywell Forge AI-automated system offers 6%-39% energy savings.
  • A reduced carbon footprint—monitoring & reducing annual energy spend can reduce carbon footprint and decrease maintenance hours.
  • Improved Tenant Experience—guide owners on up-to-date KPIs relative to how sustainable the building is.
  • Real-time Data—77 percent of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system.

A new lease on tenant satisfaction

Contracts are signed based on numbers and emotions; future commercial real estate contracts will be more than an agreement to occupy space. We’re moving toward a scenario that involves ongoing communication, trust, and flexibility.

The ability to reposition portfolios through increased value and previously unrealized efficiencies will make it easier for building operators to adapt, thereby fulfilling tenant satisfaction in record time. 

Other challenges looming on the horizon when it comes to intelligent buildings: are senior living facilities still viable; will video conferencing eliminate offices or create demand for soundproofing an internet strength; are fitness centers able to evolve for safety?

Aligning landlords and tenants for organic and resilient partnerships establishes a mutual investment and a promise to have your back.

If anything has been made clear in 2020, it’s that we need one another – which is why it’s incredibly important that companies come together to strengthen their offerings, spurring more successful partnerships, and a better tomorrow.

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Amanda Magee
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Amanda Magee

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