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SAN FRANCISCO—GlobeSt.com was out and about last night mingling with CRE and tech’s finest in San Francisco at the bi-annual CRE // Tech Intersect event, which was held on the top floor of the iconic 555 California St. building, the second tallest in the city.
With raw CRE space that boasts unobstructed views (see picture) of San Francisco, the 2014 venue served as the perfect setting to examine innovation in the commercial real estate market and brought together industry leaders and participants to discuss innovation and technology in the CRE industry.
Leading off the night was Elie Finegold, CBRE SVP of Innovation, who said that “It is amazing to see the things are happening in our industry thanks to technology and innovation.” A few trends his firm is focused on are: mobility and how it impacts the way real estate is being consumed. “The way people transact in that space is key… it will change real estate from the ground up.”
Another thing CBRE is focused on these days are finding “tools that enable efficiency in how we do business and how we transact with our clients.”
Finegold points out that “If those tools bring efficiency, we think there will be an enormous wealth of data coming from that.”
CBRE, for one, is investing in the tools and professionals to help turn that data into tools for their clients, he said.
Next up was Eric Levy, VP of strategy and M&A at DMG Information, who pointed out that what innovation means for his in for companies to always be in touch with their customers and be able to discern their evolving and changing needs, and then developing products that allow those customers to do their jobs more effectively.
One thing Levy is paying attention to is looking overseas, to emerging markets like India, Brazil and other areas like Southeast Asia “where the B2B information is less developed.” According to Levy, “The time is right for information solutions in some of those emerging markets.”
Finegold pointed out that there is an enormous amount of capital coming into the CRE tech space. “We see the scale of the phenomena as being enormous,” he explained. “But the things that keep me up at night are that we aren’t going to be nimble enough because of our scale. How do we mitigate the nature of such a large enterprise? One of the ways we do that is by creating teams and investing in those capabilities to help drive change.”
The second thing Finegold is worried about is scalability. “Are these companies going to be able to create a sustained value for us and our customers?”
Another worry for Finegold is the cycle. “I know that one of these next few years will be another down cycle and who will survive? I wonder which companies will survive the next asteroid that hits both the tech and real estate cycle, hopefully not at the same time.”
For Levy, one of the firm’s main focuses is talent. “There are two areas that are particularly important these days: sales and technology talent are important,” he said.
“We also worry about complacency,” he added. “Some of the larger, more well established companies, have to worry about being complacent.”
Another worry for Levy is being sideswiped by the Googles or LinkedIns of the world. “We are always asking what a Google or LinkedIn could do intentionally, or unintentionally, to sideswipe… Those are things to think about.”
Check back in the next day or so for more from the event, with thoughts from panelists and key executives and founders are some of these innovative companies.