How to take advantage in Data, Innovation and Talent

Adecade ago, the skill sets required of corporate real estate (CRE) executives centered on proficiency in cost-saving analytics and calculating returns on capital, allied with the capability to execute transactions and manage facilities, to optimize real estate portfolios as businesses expanded and contracted

Fast-forward to today, the Internet-of-Things and the pervasiveness of mobile devices is leading to a proliferation of data. The ability to convert Big Data into business intelligence is critical because data-driven information is becoming a key differentiator in the marketplace and the main pillar for growth. As organizations start to take advantage of Big Data, the CRE skillset is shifting from transactional and deal-driven to more performance driven, and teams are increasingly pressured to deliver service excellence.

Despite a rapidly changing business environment, what defines a high-performing CRE team remains unchanged. The best-of-breed teams are still required to deliver value in productivity and profitability. However, as technology takes over, CRE teams are asking how do we manage data, innovation and talent to ensure that we deliver the optimal value in today’s competitive landscape.

How does a company succeed with Big Data?

Know what data to collect

The first step to managing data is to know what data needs to be collected. A common mistake among CRE teams is instead of deliberating on what data is needed to manage the business; they start with the question “What data do we have?”  It is synonymous with looking for the car keys under the street lamp because that’s where the light is best but that might not be where the keys are.

Understand your business goals and identify your value proposition

For instance, if your goal is to improve employee experience, discuss actions that are relevant to manage employee experience. Identify the causes and effects of your value proposition. This may include the utilization of different seating arrangements or the availability of the right type of technologies that allow staff to do their jobs.

Develop a business calculus

After you have decided on the activities in the equation that will create value to impact your goal, determine the right way to measure these activities. With the units of measurement, the activities become quantifiable, and a calculus may be developed to ensure the right combination of metrics to improve performance.

As the use of data begins to dictate performance across all real estate functions such as workplace experience, facilities management and innovation, you need to ensure that everyone across the teams has quantitative skills. This includes senior management.  However, competition for tech talent is a major challenge in markets around the world, as demand continues to outpace supply.

How to resolve the talent gap?

Create a multi-disciplinary team with a broad range of skills

This team should comprise people who individually may lack the skills of a data scientist, but as a group possesses the necessary qualities.  For instance, at JLL, individuals with a broad range of skills in data analysis, real estate and other technical areas work closely together to implement strategies in data and analytics effectively.

Provide on-the-job training to existing employees

Another approach to overcoming the talent shortage is to provide enhanced training in data and analytics to existing employees.

Get help from external partners

Many CRE leaders are also turning to external industry experts for help. Such external partners can not only assist CRE teams in developing and implementing the most appropriate data and analytics strategies that align with their business goals but also provide step-by-step guidance throughout the whole process.

With teams that are equipped to handle Big Data, we turn our attention to innovation — an area that is high on the agenda of many CRE teams.

How to seed and manage innovation?

Develop a forward-looking roadmap for your overall CRE function

This isn’t a location plan nor a plan about the amount of space required for various business functions, but a proposal about the services, goals and efficiencies that you want to provide to the organization and its occupants.

Identify demand signals for your innovation

The development of a roadmap would help to provide demand signals for innovation. For instance, to improve productivity levels, the CRE team could seek innovations that boost employee engagement, or develop a work-processing system to drive efficiencies.

Connect with vendors and service providers

The final step is to have open discussions with your vendors, partners and service providers about where you are seeking innovations.

However, a word of caution against supply-driven innovation. A lot of organizations do not look for innovations against a plan. There is a tendency to resort to supply-driven innovations, where teams are looking at adopting inventions used elsewhere. Supply innovations should complement demand-driven signals from your roadmap.

Other things to think about

As CRE teams get ahead with strategies for data, talent and innovation, teams shouldn’t forget three other perennial areas, which remain crucial for ensuring high CRE performance. These are in the areas of sound internal relationship management, service delivery excellence and being change agents within the business organization.

Maintaining a good relationship with the company’s management

Make a list of the stakeholders that are important to your part of the business, and evaluate the strength of those relationships. Brainstorm with your team about how to improve those relationships, and get the right conversations going outside of projects.

Safeguarding service delivery excellence

Write down how your business works and use those documents for discussions on improvements or standardizations. This will make it easier for everyone on the team to understand how the group operates even as the business expands through acquisitions or organic growth.

Driving effective change as the business environment transforms

Assess where you are now, where your peers are at and where the industry is at. These assessments enable you to create a plan to manage the change you are managing today and the change that’s coming in the future.

Conclusion: Are you performing up to par?

As disruptions in the business environment occur more frequently, in part due to rapid technological advancements, CRE teams are also undergoing significant structural changes in response to increasing expectations and scrutiny. While some are better connected to the C-suite and empowered to drive change, others are facing challenges that relate primarily to know-how and skills.

To benchmark your team against the traits of other high-performing teams, JLL’s Great Traits of CRE diagnostic tool helps to determine where your organization is currently and establishes from both an industry benchmark standpoint and a capabilities perspective whether you as a CRE team are performing to par — and if not, how to raise your game for future challenges.