Commercial property giant JLL has made a commitment to increase the technological capabilities of their large number of brokers and managers. They look to do this is a number of ways. First, they announced their research and investment business unit called Spark. Then they armed the Spark team with $100 million dollars to invest in promising tech companies. All the while they have been rewarding employees who come up with innovative ideas, including their newly patented Blackbird product that uses geospatial visualizations and data to inform its brokers.
Now it seems that JLL isn’t only looking to build and buy but also is willing to partner with established tech companies to increase its technology offering. JLL Americas announced yesterday that they will be using VTS as their exclusive leasing and asset management solution. JLL has been using VTS for a while, in 2016 they were using a combination of VTS and Hightower before the two companies merged. But now they plan on managing all of their deals on the platform and will have the license to use the product in all of their departments including research, marketing and operations.
The expanded agreement likely has a lot to do with VTS’s new initiative MarketView. This service lets users benchmark factors of their deals such as lease details with market averages. Creating statistically significant averages is only possible because of the huge amount of properties that flow through VTS’s platform. As their CEO Nick Romito told us recently, “One in every three office buildings in the U.S. is now on VTS and we are adding hundreds of millions of square feet every month.”
This new partnership shows the power of what VTS has created. Even a company with a huge property portfolio and investment capital like JLL would struggle to build a tool like VTS. And even if they did they would not have access to the anonymized data from their competitors that VTS is able to offer with MarketView.
The saying that has been thrown around recently is that “data is the new oil.” This is meant to show the value of many important data sets. But, this analogy is actually pretty bad. New technology can help extract oil and the standardization of the commodity gives it the same value as all of the other oil on the market. Data is unique. Once a company can establish itself as the source for a data set they can usually leverage their size into even more data. It can create a competitive moat that would make even OPEC jealous. The truth is, due to the winner takes all game of data aggregation, data isn’t the new oil, it is the new real estate.