From working with the industry’s largest firms, I’ve learned that there’s no shortage of commercial real estate data. This is hugely beneficial when integrated properly, but unfortunately, problems arise more often than not when it comes to data connectivity and accuracy.

Why? Until now, the commercial real estate industry has never had a consistent way to identify properties and standardize associated data. While the financial industry has the CUSIP and businesses have the D-U-N-S code, the world’s largest asset class has yet to adopt a unique identifier to help aggregate, cleanse and connect datasets.

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Unsurprisingly, this can be detrimental to enterprises with vast arrays of information. Internal property data becomes siloed and isolated, making it difficult to resolve duplicate records and inform accurate analysis. This is why the industry needs a universal data language now more than ever before. At the rate the industry is moving, a universal language to successfully map datasets is absolutely imperative, as it ensures accuracy across an organization, promotes efficiency and empowers internal stakeholders with a single source of truth to fuel better decision-making.

Enriched Accuracy

The first benefit a universal data language provides is better accuracy. Because there’s no standardized approach to classifying properties across the country, record linkage is becoming increasingly challenging. This lack of uniformity in property identification causes difficulty when combining information and sharing records across organizations, resulting in discrepancies and misplaced records.

Think about it: the myriad of ways assets are recorded in systems is daunting. For example, our own office building sits at the corner of 48th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan. Technically, it’s identified as 767 Third Avenue, but might be searched for via its 48th street address. Or, it could be stylized as “767 3rd Avenue” or “767 3rd Ave.” in some systems. This often leads to information getting lost, or worse, mapped back to the wrong addresses.

Adopting a single method of property identification can alleviate this industry-wide problem. Technology like our Reonomy ID, a proprietary code assigned to each and every asset across the country, ensures accuracy and connectivity across the industry. When combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence, this code successfully clarifies and organizes data aggregated from all over the country to secure total data sanctity. By harnessing this same methodology, the industry’s leading players can cleanse and connect their internal insights to ensure relevant property, people and company insights are consistently tied back to the correct assets.

Increased Efficiency

Given the pace of the landscape, the market’s leaders can’t rely on inefficient, fragmented datasets to accelerate their day-to-day operations—it’s just not conducive to business growth. When CRE data is heterogeneous, data silos lead to low-quality interactions and redundancies that prohibit the bottom line; stakeholders waste precious time trying to find and piece together information, which, in the end, bars success.

A consistent universal data language, however, streamlines how information is fed and centralized into one system, providing companies with a unified resource to access with ease. Similar to what I mentioned above, a consistent identifier can be applied to assets to bolster infrastructure and safeguard against data fragmentation and breakage. Ultimately, this increases the efficiency of data flow and usage across an organization.

A universal CRE language also empowers companies with the agility to scale systems in the future. Despite how much information is continuously collected and updated over time, be it proprietary or external, a single property identifier can be used to integrate it all. Technology that is backed by machine learning, like Reonomy, automatically maps new data back to its original source and houses all relevant information in a fortified system of record. Such agility enables industry players to take back their time and innovate faster.

Strategic Decision-Making

Lastly, but arguably most importantly, a universal CRE data language provides the industry’s leading players with the insights to inform critical, calculated decision-making.

What’s often overlooked is the untapped wealth of knowledge internal data provides. Firms and brokerages are sitting on a plethora of information, but when it’s disjointed, duplicated and inaccurate, it’s not valuable and can lead to roadblocks. Opportunities are jeopardized, or worse, missed completely, holding companies back rather than propelling them past the competition.

Holistic visibility into sales history, debt records, tenant profiles, and ownership portfolio helps business stakeholders identify potential opportunities across all geographic markets and asset classes. Instead of the myopic, limited view disparate data offers, comprehensive data ensures a 360-degree approach to navigating the landscape. As a whole, commercial real estate decision-making is a multifaceted process, one that’s only elevated with the help of connected and centralized property information.

What it boils down to is quite simple: The solution to better record linkage lies in a universal data language that internal technologies can “speak” to ensure data is up-to-date, nimble, and useable for business stakeholders. It’s this level of standardization that pushes the entire industry away from fragmentation, and into the necessary age of digital connection.

Rich Sarkis is CEO of Reonomy. The views expressed here are the author’s own and not that of ALM’s Real Estate Media Group.