Commercial real estate is an industry driven by huge volumes of data, making it uniquely positioned to benefit from broad-based cloud adoption.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the world creates roughly 2.2 exabytes — that’s 2.2 billion gigabytes — of data every day. While this proliferation of data is spread across millions if not billions of individual devices, simply storing this much information is becoming increasingly difficult, to say nothing of organizing it.
This challenge is particularly pronounced in industries like commercial real estate (CRE), where data is the driving force behind every transaction. As industry sage and blogger Duke Long points out, “It’s one thing to acquire terabytes of data, [but] it’s quite another to cleanse and mobilize that data in service of real-time insights into the commercial real estate market.”
What’s more, any potential solution to the CRE industry’s data conundrum must be flexible enough to accommodate brokers’ dynamic, always-on-the-go workflows. Locking market data away on an inaccessible server isn’t going to do anyone any good. Fortunately, the relatively rapid emergence of cloud computing over the past decade has provided CRE professionals with everything they need to move into a big data-driven future — both in and out of the office.
Anytime, Anywhere Access
Ask any person what the first rule of real estate is and you’re likely to hear, “Location, location, location.” And while location is certainly a critical consideration in any CRE valuation, it’s also the defining characteristic of every broker’s job. Whether they’re meeting clients, assessing a property, or networking with prospects, a broker is just as likely to be found out and about as in their office.
That’s why the cloud’s flexibility and mobility is of massive value to CRE professionals. The data contained within traditional CRE tools (namely, spreadsheets) is only accessible via the devices to which it has been downloaded. This means a broker must be able to predict exactly which datasets they need before they leave the office for a series of meetings — if they forget to copy, transfer or upload the right data while they’re still at the office, they’ll be stranded without it in the field. Even if they do remember to upload various documents to, say, a Google Drive or Dropbox App, they’ll still be sifting through applications to open PDFs, spreadsheets and documents that may be incompatible with their devices to begin with.
That’s where a new generation of cloud-based CRE technologies comes in: dedicated CRE data platforms accessible from any device and updated in real time. With constant access to centralized, up-to-date property information, brokers can not only reference data they’ve saved, but immediately uncover new data points as the need arises — on calls, during client meetings, or from the road. Brokers can identify comparables, pull up property details, and search nationally by property type, size, number of units, sale date, mortgage maturity date — all without returning to the office.
Editor's Note: Looking for a cloud backup or storage solution for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.
The Modern CRE Paradigm
Despite these significant benefits, many CRE professionals are hesitant about relying on cloud-based tools, voicing concerns about reliability, security, or ease of use. But in reality, tools designed for use across mobile apps, tablets, and laptops are inherently more user friendly than PDF or Excel documents transferred between each.
Of course, the real viability of any CRE tool comes down to the quality of the information it’s providing. In an industry with margins as razor-thin as CRE, any boost to efficiency can make the difference between a deal closed and an opportunity lost. Real estate is — and will always be — a business grounded in relationships, but in today’s fast-paced marketplaces, consistent access to high quality data may be more valuable than a broker’s charm.