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Insights from Realcomm 2016

Posted by Mark Kalkwarf in: industry news

While this year’s Realcomm event covered many hot topics, a common thread that ran through the conference was the importance of integration. And there’s a reason that integration has become a veritable buzzword in the Real Estate industry. The reality is, you can go to the ends of the earth arming your company with the best software solutions; but if they don’t talk to each other, you’ll just end up with a sprawling metropolis of information silos.

Why do so many companies find themselves in this predicament? The majority feel that they need to use best of breed software that focusses on specific areas of their business, rather than a ‘single stack’ Jack-of-all-trades solution. This is the reason why so many end up with the problem of isolated information silos. This issue is no stranger to us at Open Box. In fact, for years we’ve been helping our clients to integrate their data systems, new and legacy alike. This gives our clients the freedom to run their buildings more intelligently, ensuring that systems can talk to one another, thereby saving time, money and energy.

‘Openness’ walks hand in hand with integration.

In recent years, we’ve seen a huge push for software vendors to shift towards a model that offers users access to "open” data. It’s been a contentious issue; we see new VC companies designing open systems using API’s from the ground up, whereas many of the established players continue to dig their heals in, closing access to their data and even encrypting it. Some of the bigger players are now entertaining the notion of opening up, but users are not willing to compromise as they demand access to all their information (not just subsets), without having to pay for access to their data.

Beefing up Cybersecurity.

With so much global uncertainty, it’s no surprise that Cybersecurity remains top of mind. In fact, there is an over-riding sense in the industry that it’s not a matter of if, but when CRE companies will become targeted by cyber-attackers. After all, some of these companies hold SSN details, accounting information and a wealth of other valuable data. There have already been attacks on the hospital industry (holding patient records hostage), which drives home the real vulnerability of CRE companies leasing and sales data.

Moving on up to the Cloud.

No discussion of Cybersecurity is complete without a mention of the Cloud. As old school concern around cloud security dissipates, we see an increasing number of software services shifting to the Cloud. In fact, Cloud is increasingly gaining the reputation as a more secure option as bigger players such as Amazon and Microsoft have access to huge Cybersecurity budgets and skill sets. We are now spoilt for choice with multiple Cloud vendors popping up across all the major focus areas (Dropbox, OneDrive and more).

New disrupters are closer than we think.

In the world of tech, we’re always on the brink of some exciting new innovation. And while companies need to stay abreast of new developments, it’s important not to get distracted by every bit of new tech that comes our way. Instead, companies need to stay focussed on how new technology can actually drive real business value. Read more about Ian Saunder’s ideas in his post ‘The Innovators Dilemma’. Here are a few of the disruptors that will impact on our lives and business in the not too distant future:

  • Driverless Cars: Driverless cars have been in test phase for over a year already. And despite recent news of this technology ‘back-firing’ on a Tesla driver who was watching Harry Potter (instead of the road) and collided with a truck, this technology is set to change the future as we know it. In particular, it will have a significant impact on the Real Estate industry as parking requirements will change dramatically once this gains traction.
  • Neural Networks… next level AI: It’s eye-opening to see how technology has developed here – while a bit of code used to tell a machine what to think, it is now allowing the machine to learn and decide for itself. Many actual products are already being developed in this Neural Network space.
  • Internet of Things: This notion is becoming a reality through companies like Ayla Networks who are finding real ways for hardware vendors to incorporate the Internet of Things into their products. It’s about creating a space where multiple systems are able to talk to each other, helping to facilitate the management of your buildings, utilities, temperature control, lighting, visitors security systems, elevator systems, fire emergency systems, etc.
  • Mixed Reality: Dubbed as the next-generation Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality is set to change the way that people view and lease Real Estate. There are some incredible companies breaking new ground in this area, like Florida-based Magic Leap who describe what they do by challenging you to ‘imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world.’ Now imagine the potential in the Real Estate industry.
  • Bitcoin / Block Chain: With the emergence of this virtual currency, we’re starting to grasp the potential of this technology to transfer anything of value virtually, from leasing agreements, deeds etc. and the impact that this will have on our industry.
  • Google Indoor Mapping: Google Maps are a part of our everyday lives, but Google’s new offering now extends indoors, allowing users to publish their floor plans as well. Google is taking indoor mapping and location one step further with their Project Tango initiative. Google’s mapping engine combined with new hardware will offer accurate, non-GPS, indoor location and mapping… just imagine the potential of this technology in a shopping mall.

This year’s Realcomm gave delegates the opportunity to go on some awe-inspiring industry tours. One of the highlights here was the Google campus, where we experienced some amazing innovations that could benefit countless industries, including Real Estate. And while it’s important to spend time investigating these innovations, it’s even more important to focus on how the technology can drive real value in the everyday operations of your business. The Real Estate industry needs to stop looking for direction from outside the industry and rather look inward, adopting integrated technology for business sake, not tech for tech sake. Open Box believes in this approach, and the importance of meeting business needs first and foremost.

Contact us to talk about how Open Box software can add real value to your business.


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