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NEW YORK CITY-FacilitiesWork and Workspeed are two late-breaking examples of new companies being backed by major New York real estate services firms. These companies reflect a growing trend in the marketplace to turn to technology to streamline various building management operations.

Cushman & Wakefield has invested with Zeborg to create FacilitiesWork. “FacilitiesWork reduces the amount of each check written to vendors,” Robert Vokes, head of strategic alliances for Zeborg, tells GlobeSt.com. “We act as buying agents, working very closely with the buyer, going out on behalf of the company to renegotiate vendor contracts for services.

“We’re able to expand the supplier base tremendously because we work on the Web,” he continues. “More vendors get to bid. We create a rational pricing base, spending a lot of time working with vendors about their pricing. We create a level playing field.”

Bill Toohey, senior director of facilities for Cushman & Wakefield, explains what’s in it for them: “We’ll issue RFPs online, creating a larger pool of responses. FacilitiesWork will attack the service contract market–things like janitorial, HVAC service, electrical maintenance–and drive down the services and production costs 10% to 15% by negotiating air-tight contracts and eliminating paper processing inefficiencies. They’ll monitor performance and use the Web as their number one tool.”

Zeborg handles services management nationally for various types of industries; its subsidiary FacilitiesWork will focus entirely on building management. Zeborg was carved out of March First, an Internet consulting firm created by the merger of Whitman Hart, US Web and Mitchell Madison. Mitchell Madison, Vokes’ old firm, had been servicing Cushman & Wakefield.

Reflecting on his firm’s further involvement in tech, Bruce Mosler, newly appointed president of US operations for Cushman & Wakefield tells GlobeSt.com that: “In talking about procurement, we’re talking about changing the value proposition. It drives our clients’ balance sheets. The items we’re talking about are not low-hanging fruit. It’s much more encompassing. The investments we’ve focused on are essentially and widely accepted as the business areas we must offer our clients. Our competitors are putting tens of millions of dollars into a variety of alliances. My take on it is that there is a risk factor because they are all so capital intensive. We’re trying to trade on intellectual capital.”

A similar venture to FacilitiesWork, Workspeed, will create a means for bringing the record keeping and communications functions of managing and operating a building on-line. Workspeed is an application service provider that will initiate, authorize, dispatch and track maintenance and service requests. It will also provide a means to assess the operating information.

Richard Ruben, president of New York-based Lawrence Ruben Co., and Gilles Quero, founder and CEO of Apsylog Inc., which was acquired by Peregrine, together created Workspeed. Apollo Real Estate Advisors, LLC, Archon Group LP, Insignia Financial Group, Jack Resnick & Sons, Mack-Cali Realty Corp., Newmark & Co., Shorenstein Co. LP, Starwood Capital Group, Williams Real Estate Co. Inc. and Vornado Realty Trust all now also back the company.

Workspeed did not return calls by press time, but Richard Ruben writes in a statement: “For a number of years, the real estate industry has recognized that technology offered the promise of making building management more efficient and cost-effective. There have been incremental advances, but now Workspeed represents a true breakthrough.”

The push to create Web-based services management reflects a growing interest in the industry to use new technology to streamline processes. By backing these new ventures themselves, the industry shows not only faith in the new technology, but also their desire to become more high-tech themselves and take advantage of these e-services.

For related news, click on:Real Estate Heavyweights Pump $25 Mil Into E-Procurer FacilityPro.com

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