Last week in Las Vegas, Realcomm celebrated the 20 year anniversary of its industry-leading annual conference. Hundreds of commercial and corporate real estate professionals representing over 50 billion square-feet of commercial real estate space from around the world gathered to discuss, debate and collaborate on how technology, automation and innovation continues to impact how we design, build, lease, operate, transact and use real estate.
This year’s conference theme, The Age of Acceleration: Navigating Global CRE Technology and Innovation, focused on what it will take to stay in front of today’s technology changes. Jim Young, co-founder and CEO of Realcomm, said: “While the technological change in the last few years has been fast, what we see ahead is a pace never before experienced. Technologies that have been around for many years in the labs are now making their way to the street and are positioned to make fundamental changes.”
Attracting delegates from over a dozen countries globally, the conference featured more than 225 speakers, 100 education sessions and a vendor expo. Attendees networked and learned from thought leaders representing some of the top companies in the world, including Microsoft, Intel, Time Warner, CBRE, Tishman Speyer, JLL, Simon Property Group and many others.
The opening keynote was delivered by Bob Sulentic, President and CEO of CBRE. “Tech is no longer a buzzword in commercial real estate. It’s becoming a staple, foundational and embedded,” he said. As the largest property services firm in the world, CBRE been investing heavily in technology over the past three-years according to Sulentic, including a suite of enablement technologies called Vantage which provides automation, visualization, data analytics and other capabilities for various stages of the real estate lifecycle.
“We manage five-billion square-feet of space around the world. We have a lot of information about what goes on in those buildings and what the users of those buildings want,” said Sulentic. He went on to explain that CBRE is able to uniquely collect and leverage big data in ways that not many other property firms can. They are also constantly looking for new technologies and are able to apply those solutions and scale them quickly. “We’re in a position today where we can buy technology companies and integrate them smoothly into our business,” added Sulentic.
Much of the buzz within the conference and many of the products on display are utilizing transformative technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. “These are not just tactical, incremental changes to operating models, but rather may result in wholesale changes to the purpose of real estate and how we operate it,” said Young. “We are already seeing this in the retail sector, which is influencing the industrial sector as well. We are also in the early stages of the space-as-a-service model, which is poised to continually challenge the commercial and corporate real estate assumptions of yesterday.”