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This episode of Deconstructed starts with a discussion about the strange year commercial real estate has had. Brett shares how he and his team handled the current year, then provides a high-level overview of how they plan to approach the future. 

Data-Readiness in a Global Emergency

Brett says it was startling to see how many clients weren’t data-ready for the emergency we all faced. Instead, clients were scrambling to get things in order. 

The state of disarray many people’s data was in was the startling part—and this caused many issues for those businesses. 

Brett’s team is in the business of data. They capture data and put it into manageable and usable formats so their clients can manage their people, their assets, and pay bills on time. 

The clients that had good data were able to have quicker responses and handle the shutdowns much better. They were able to adjust to cleaning and sanitation requirements, and were better able to deal with the economic distress that came with the situation we were all in. 

Brett says things were “murky” for some clients in the first few months of the pandemic. But as the year ended, they transitioned from being reactionary to thinking about how they can turn what they’ve learned and implemented into a long-term business continuity plan.

Data has become central for all of their clients now—especially when it comes to dealing with how global events will affect their portfolios in the future. Businesses used to believe an international event like we just experienced was a “what if,” but now they realize it’s a “when” something like this happens. 

The question they’re answering through data now is, “How can we be ready next time?”

Why weren’t companies data-ready before the pandemic?

It would seem like having data in order and having a good understanding of what’s going on in different areas of a business would be a priority for a company. Not only in the case of an emergency, but for normal operations as well.

So why weren’t these businesses ready?

Brett believes many companies just felt their data was good enough. They were able to make strategic, transactional, and growth decisions with the data systems they had. 

But the same data wasn’t good enough to deal with the nuances of the effects of a global pandemic on their portfolio. So it wasn’t that they didn’t have data at all. It was about the time, energy, and money invested into turning that data into something manageable and useful. 

Will companies go back to treating data like they did pre-pandemic?

Brett believes the prioritization of data is a permanent change. 

He says every Fortune 500, or Fortune 1000, company is making reactionary data, within the context of their portfolios, a critical part of business continuity planning. 

The fees are marginal compared to transaction management, workplace strategy, or portfolio strategy, so Brett believes clients will invest in better data for the long term.

They see the benefit of data because it’s sitting in many of the dashboards they use daily or weekly. The pandemic has sped up companies’ recognition of the importance of data, and the phase where data is crucial to day-to-day business operations is no longer on the horizon. Businesses realize we are in that phase right now.  

What type of company finds better data useful?

Brett says it’s more about the maturity of a company. They see businesses with 20,000 assets prioritizing data, but they also see businesses with seven assets prioritizing data. 

Many of the businesses that didn’t prepare thought they could do everything in-house, yet tasks as simple as contacting landlords of different properties became an issue for companies who weren’t ready. Another common problem was not being able to understand where the early options on leases were.

Tasks that should have been simple “two-button” exercises weren’t. 

Companies have to examine what they should keep in-house versus what they should outsource to other companies that can do it better than they can. And Brett believes those decisions mostly boil down to the maturity of the real estate organization within each company. 

Judging Technology’s Usefulness in Commercial Real Estate

Brett breaks down technology systems in three different ways.

He looks at technology that helps you with daily operations, tech that enables you to do things more efficiently, and how tech will hold up in the future.

Because it’s technology, you don’t know how the future is going to pan out. So Brett and his team try to focus on technology that makes his team more accurate and efficient over the next few years, trying to avoid huge investments that they see may be obsolete in the coming years. 

Staying Aware of New Technology Without Wasting Time

Brett says you have to ask the right questions. It helps to be picky about what you’re giving your attention to. 

But even if something is not a good fit for you, as long you’re asking the right questions, you can learn from those experiences. 

Brett also has time and money dedicated to testing new technologies. One of the areas he’s hoping for a great technology solution is in automated translation services. Because more companies are going global, there are more language nuances to address in commercial real estate transactions. 

How do you manage the time and risk of testing technology that doesn’t work?


Time will be the most significant investment—and that investment should always pay off in some way as long as you learn.

You’ll gain knowledge and abilities that help you long-term.

You’ll know where you want to focus on training and other areas before investing large amounts of money. Not spending time and money testing new emerging technologies can lead to companies getting passed up by those who are. 

The future of commercial real estate needs…

“We need more people willing to push more boundaries,” Brett says.

He mentions everything from hiring practices to emerging markets and knowledge centers. Overall, Brett says the industry needs more connectivity across the board. 

He says there needs to be a collaboration of talent and clients to spark new ideas and better solutions for the whole industry.

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