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The Property Industry Travels at the Speed of Trust

It is conference season, so I have been traveling a lot recently. One of the things that I love about speaking at industry events is what I learn from the smart people that I am  lucky enough to meet. Recently I shared the stage with Michael Turner of Oxford Properties Group and Lisa Picard of EQ Office. Each said something that stayed with me.

Lisa talks  about shifting customer demand alongside elevated expectations happening right now in the office industry. This has set the bar higher for how offices should look, feel and perform. Designing and creating these spaces is difficult but she believes that a higher level of connection and transparency will help make it easier.  

Our industry operates in disparate silos with disconnected teams, cultures, and incentives. We collaborate and execute on high stakes, complex workflows. We also attempt to increase project velocity at every stage. While this model succeeds, it is unpredictable. It is difficult to scale at a rate necessary to sustain the multi-trillion global construction market spend.

Everyone expresses a deep desire to establish trust and nurture partnerships with all construction stakeholders. Operating in our industry is like running a relay race. Every stakeholder has to succeed or the entire team loses. We’re great at running, but given the lack of transparency and communication between owners, engineers, architects, general and specialty contractors, it feels like we’re passing batons in the dark. We need to build trust in order to succeed.

Michael shared something in a conversation that a mentor said to him, that helped embody the point Lisa had made and will be a bit of a personal mandate going forward: projects are partnerships that get completed at the speed of trust. If you want to speed any project up, create better trust between the stakeholders. 

To do this, we need purpose-built technology that fosters seamless partnerships throughout our project ecosystem. We don’t mean partnerships as traditionally defined. We mean deep connections and shared dependencies. Across the built world, the more collaboration, information sharing, transparency and data available among us, the faster and more surefooted the path to our success. Given our current disconnectedness, how will we build trust and connection? 

PropTech represented one of the first widespread opportunities for owners to connect, internally with teams, and externally with vendors and providers. Construction technology had a similar impact on the construction industry. As the built world accelerates its pace,  becoming increasingly complex, we need a single platform where all stakeholders can eliminate both internal and external silos in favor of collaboration and information sharing on the broadest scale. Long-term success for owners will come by increasing communication. Collective long-term success will come by increasing communication and transparency. 

Why is industry alignment and establishing efficiencies so crucial now? Since 1950, the world’s urban population has risen nearly six-fold, from 751 million to 4.2 billion in 2018. Projected urbanization could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050. Our landscapes and skylines are changing rapidly.  More than ever, we need all types of construction, ground-up development, redevelopment, and building improvements. We can’t rely on the processes of the past as we build the cities of the future.

Equipping our industry for change depends on building deeper connections. Among owners, there is a digital divide, and it’s no longer between those using technology and those who are not. Rather, the divide is between often between the platforms themselves. There needs to be a single repository for shared information. Linking all project stakeholders from planning and budgeting to preconstruction, from project execution through operations and maintenance is the answer, plain and simple.

I believe that owners should have the most advanced tech at their fingertips. The team at Procore has the same philosophy. Teaming up with them allows us to continue integrating across the ecosystem to allow all users to get the best out of their systems. Owners are seeking integrations to get faster, more accurate project information from contractors. Contractors are looking for ways to meet the owners’ needs and collaborate more efficiently throughout the entire design and build process. 

Everyone deserves technology purpose-built for their needs. Procore for Owners delivers technology connecting owners to all stakeholders creating the built world. A unified, connected platform fundamentally changes our industry. 

A complicated undertaking, Manhattan West, was the culmination of massive collaboration. An elevated freight railroad yard has become a 5,400,000-square-foot mixed-use community. Office and residential high rises sit near a 1.5-acre public park. Architects, engineers, design consultants, general contractors along with a variety of subcontractors relied upon a unified platform.

Getting the construction and real estate industries to adopt a single platform is a lofty goal. Here we have two sectors that have been around since the dawn of civilization and we expect them to just change how they have always operated? But, the rewards are worth the resistance. In order to move forward, both industries need to move closer together.  As the start to collaborate on a deeper level they will inevitably create more trust between the two. This trust will be the fuel that will take us to the place we all hope and want to see in our lifetimes. I look forward to coming with all of you on this journey. Onwards and upwards.

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