With so many people this year suddenly working from home, the commercial real estate industry is now faced with challenges in how to stimulate industry growth.
One way is to invest more in employees with advanced technology skills. These people will help these companies use technologies to be more productive, accelerate product and service deliveries and drive growth.
But the industry has to overcome some hurdles before making this happen.
Because they aren’t seeking these people nearly as much as they are traditional real estate professionals.
A new survey by Deloitte, titled the Future of Commercial Real Estate, provides insights of job openings of real estate employers for more than 500 roles. Over one-third (35 percent) said they want finance and accounting skills, 27 sales and marketing skills and 22 percent property management skills.
By contrast, only 4 percent want employees with data analytics and artificial intelligence skills. Even less — a mere 1 percent — desire candidates with software development skills and .4 percent seek people with cloud computing expertise.
Some encouraging signs of high-tech momentum
While these statistics clearly show a lack of intense demand for employees with high-tech skills, that doesn’t mean the real estate industry isn’t aware of the value that technology delivers for businesses.
An Appfolio Survey report indicates that the most common move property managers are making to prepare for the future is streamlining and automating business processes. In fact, almost half (48 percent) plan to do this. Nearly the same percentage (46 percent) will adopt new technology.
Why tech skills are important
Hiring more high-tech professionals will help commercial real estate companies in a number of ways.
Data analytics professionals, for instance, can help these companies organize and make sense of their corporate data to generate better insights that lead to better business decisions.
Software developers are crucial for writing programs that enable companies to build and operate more efficient networks and system applications.
Cloud computing experts can help these companies shift their corporate data to more secure locations while lowering equipment and office space expenses.
These professionals can also leverage the power of automation, for instance, to accelerate payments to vendors and suppliers. Machine learning can help analyze historical payment behavioral data of customers and predict with more accuracy which ones are likely to pay early or late.
Diving into this deeper, Deloitte’s research draws a useful comparison between what an accounting specialist within a commercial real estate company would likely be spending time on this year compared with 2023.
Currently, they’re collecting and sorting bills and checks, manually entering data and comparing invoices and payments. By the year 2023, this same professional should be using digitized bills and checks over a cloud computing network.
According to Deloitte, these finance pros will use artificial intelligence and data analysis to rapidly identify irregular expenses and other financial transaction red flags that need to be reviewed.
There are going to be plenty of changes in the commercial real estate market in the next few years. The entire landscape of retail stores particularly in malls is going to be reformed. The number of employees who return to work at corporate offices on a regular basis is going to change. What these office buildings will be used for remains, in many cases, uncertain.
These transitional times present great opportunities to explore new ways of doing business. And one of those new ways could be to rebuild workforces that are highly adept at high-tech skills.
We’ve learned how valuable these skills are this year with the need for employees to be able to use various devices, softwares and applications from their homes. The value these tech-savvy people deliver is only going to grow in the future.
Now is a great time for commercial real estate companies to embrace artificial intelligence, automation, cloud computing and data analytics.
These technologies, and employees skilled at using them, will empower these businesses to transform and grow faster in the days and months ahead.