Last week, I attended CREtech New York. The annual real estate technology and innovation fair saw more than 2,200 professionals from around the world descend on New York City for two days of networking, solution-hunting and knowledge-sharing.
Between a host of scheduled meetings and convivial events, CRETech provided a great opportunity to talk with others about the future of commercial real estate and its application of technology. Doing so, four key themes stood out to me above the rest.
The first of these was climate tech. Renowned for his passionate views on carbon emissions in the built world, Michael Beckerman put on a show that placed ESG right at the heart of things. From the swathes of booths all bidding to assist the CRE sector in its pledge to carbon neutrality (and in many cases net zero), to the chatter around governmental ESG regulation standards, the subject was almost impossible to avoid. This was reassuring to say the least.
Forget greenwashing, what was abundantly clear was that there are solutions making a real difference to the built world.
An entire area of the conference hall was dedicated solely to solutions tackling the cost of living crisis - a hot button topic as nations around the world grapple with inflation and rising costs.
Just this week, City Hall admitted that it will be difficult for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to build all the affordable homes he has promised. Why? Well blame has been placed (rightly or wrongly) on inflationary pressures, rising interest rates and recent political turmoil.
With a 6,000 home shortfall versus the central housing pledge target, Tory assembly members are critiquing Mr Khan, observing that decisive strides need to be made towards supporting Londoners with the cost of living.
Data isn’t hot, quality data is. CRETech saw a fair few panel discussions and conversations centred around the importance of the extraction and filtration of data from its raw form, into quality insights that empower decision-makers across the commercial real estate lifecycle.
In a turbulent market, the sheer volume of providers at CREtech seeking to tackle the issue of ‘bad data’ and surrounding topics, was a testament to the growing importance of quality intel in CRE decision-making.
Now more than ever, people seemed to understand that disparate technology solutions that don’t connect with legacy software are a problem in and of themselves. The consensus was very much that proptech needs to work towards streamlining facilities management processes by bringing them into line with everyday working practices using integrative methods. The days of point solutions are gone. Buyers want flexible, integrated, powerful solutions, rather than a load of disparate technologies all solving a tiny bit of the puzzle.
All in all, spirits were high in the big apple. A sense of urgency in regard to the climate, economy and future of the built environment underpinned the event.
Thanks to those who took the time to share their thoughts and solutions with me.