Part II: A New Business Model for Delivering Next-Gen CRE Technology

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By way of review, my first blog in this series (A New Business Model for Delivering Next-Generation CRE Technology) outlined the primary challenge CRE organizations face when it comes to deploying technology. These organizations have traditionally had to choose between deploying a pointsolution, which promises to deliver deep but narrow and discrete functionality, or an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), comprised of multiple integrated modules spanning the entire real estate and facilities life cycle, uniquely configured to support the needs of a single enterprise.

Each model has its shortcomings, whether it’s the lack of integration inherent to a point solution or the inadequate return on investment (ROI) many organizations realize from their IWMS investment – a problem often traced to the business model employed to deliver the technology.

Creating a better CRE Technology platform
In this blog, I'll examine a new business model for CRE Technology delivery. A model that delivers the functionality of IWMS at a price that competes with point solutions while providing the rich capabilities of an enterprise solution. If you are skeptical, ask yourself this question: Though most CRE technology providers claim that their technology contains best practices, why do their solutions inevitably require continuous customization and expensive upgrades? 
 
By utilizing two key concepts, pre-configuration and pre-integration, you will not have to compromise functionality to achieve lower price. In fact, functionality can be improved over traditional IWMS. In both concepts, “pre” means creating an integrated solution based on best practices of process flow, data management, and reporting versus the unique requirements of a single customer. 

Pre-Configuration
IWMS is designed to be configured for a wide variety of industries and clients. This means that “out of the box” IWMS implementations are rarely successful, because the shipped product is focused more on checking-off typical feature requirements rather than achieving a unified result based on user-centric best practices. Each IWMS set-up requires user and organizational security, along with process flows or “playbooks” for delivering services, creating data standards, improving the user experience (and simplifying their interaction with the technology), and potentially adding functionality. After all, no single software solution does everything well. The concept of pre-configuration is based on the premise that the vast majority of commercial CRE customizations could be standardized and improved over time with operational feedback. Every service provider and many CRE organizations have playbook processes for performing CRE services; there are a limited number of these processes, and the differences between service provider playbooks are typically minor. 
 
This new delivery model asks the question: Why not leverage the collective experience of an entire user community, share requirements and use that combined intelligence to deliver best practices through structured technology releases available to each user? If, through this crowd-sourcing process, each CRE organization and many service providers utilizing the technology supply input over time, the functionality of that pre-configured solution will inevitably surpass anything a single CRE organization could develop on its own, with significant savings in time, resources and cost.

Besides an integrated database, process flow optimization is one of the biggest advantages IWMS has over point solutions. Role-based process flow is used to automatically initiate a process, manage documents and approvals, track status, and much more. Process flow optimization results in higher productivity, better quality and improved data transparency. The most efficient and effective way to improve IWMS functionality is to improve feedback from both service providers and clients and embed this knowledge into the product configuration for a large user community. 

Pre-Integration
Pre-integration recognizes the fact that IWMS was not designed to do certain CRE functions well. IWMS works well as an integrated database with role-based process flow tools, but there are far better tools than IWMS for reporting and analytics, data collection, data quality management, collaboration and much more. Pre-integrating IWMS with best-in-class business intelligence tools would allow any IWMS data field to be reported, trended, analyzed and benchmarked much more extensively than standard reporting tools. It would also create the ability to cost-effectively centralize reporting from non-IWMS data sources. 

Finally, pre-integrating external applications that are built for mobility and collaboration tools extend the capabilities of the typical IWMS product. This includes integrated web applications for global data entry, completion of request forms, status updates and more that would significantly increase productivity and the overall user experience.  

Conclusion
Pre-configuration and pre-integration allow CRE organizations to maximize their ROI from CRE Technology. The next generation of CRE Technology is both a new business model to create the technology and a new platform that includes what IWMS does well and combines it with other technologies such as business intelligence, mobile applications, collaboration tools, data collection forms, and more. This solution ensures best practices in process flow, improves service delivery productivity, and improves data quality and transparency. In addition, it creates a scalable platform to support the changing needs of the modern CRE organization through the benefit of better, contemporary technology methods.

Alan Nager
Executive Managing Director, Technology
 

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