By Adam Stanley, Global CIO and Chief Digital Officer
By now, I hope you’ve heard the exciting news that our firm has partnered with MetaProp NYC, the world’s premier real estate technology nexus. It’s another big step we’ve taken to ensure our firm is positioned to manage and lead the disruptions that are transforming every area of our industry with digital speed.
Through MetaProp NYC’s global “nexus”, we now have access to — and will be kept on top of –the absolute latest innovations being continuously created by the world’s leading start-ups. The broad insight and strategic advice provided by our new partner supercharges our firm’s ability to analyze, partner, and implement best-in-class real estate technologies across business lines and support services in all our locations around the world.
We’re already seeing dramatic change upend our industry, and like all sectors today, it’s impossible to predict everything we’re about to experience.
Our partnership with MetaProp NYC solidifies our reputation as a change leader as we head into the future. It offers our clients, as well as our brokerage, consulting, management, and valuation professionals the most forward-thinking software, hardware, and tech-enabled services, which will continue to shift.
Partnership vs. Ownership
So, why did Cushman & Wakefield go the partnership route in this case versus acquiring startups to lead change?
Well, right now, competition for a piece of the $2-trillion commercial real estate technology is fierce; spending by startups went up from $500 million in 2014 to $2 billion in 2016, and it’s growing.
With hundreds of new tech companies entering the commercial real estate ecosystem each year, our ability to pivot and exploit the best solution is vastly improved with an expert partner on our side that specializes in sourcing the world for the best innovations.
MetaProp NYC will help triage and vet vendors. The firm will help us choose from technology offerings, including analytics, machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA), as well as 3D visualization, and augmented and virtual reality tools.
Our firm has defined strategic objectives and it’s my job as CIO to ensure our IT platform is aligned with our priorities. MetaProp NYC knows our strategy and what we’re looking for and they will scour the startup universe for players that provide value and play a role in expanding or creating market opportunities.
Cushman & Wakefield has already gained a lot of ‘street cred’ for working with venture capitalists to identify potential startups, as typically commercial real estate CIOs prefer to build proprietary technologies rather than bet on such innovations. Not us; we go to the ends of the earth to source those innovators who fit with our firm, and MetaProp NYC gives us unlimited access to the best and brightest minds in real estate technology.
In just the last few months, our partner vetted more than 100 PropTech startups from around the world on behalf of our firm, providing deep analysis of best-in-class early-stage companies that will most benefit our business and service lines, as well as our clients.
Innovative Philosophy on Innovation
Each of the major firms in our industry has a different philosophy about innovation. I’m very cautious about looking for tech companies to buy. What we’re trying to do is augment the people we have in place, working on the strong platform globally, and finding the right partnerships to bring innovation.
And, like everything else, it always comes down to people. People are the most important element in delivering IT services to the business. I’m working hard to cultivate an IT team that is increasingly focused on strategic, client-facing efforts – a break from the traditional operational tasks with which commercial real estate IT shops have long been associated.
Thus, we first seek to understand ‘unmet’ client demand and then invest in technologies and solutions that address those needs. We do not make technology investments from a position of fear, ego, or irrational impulse.
Our focus is on making our service lines more productive, creating greater interconnectedness between them and our client, and providing the analytics that enable more effective decision making. Given that for most companies, real estate is their top (or second) largest expense, helping our customers achieve the greatest value from this investment is our top priority.
PropTech startups interested in partnering with Cushman & Wakefield can visit cushmanwakefield.com/MetaProp.
Adam Stanley is Global CIO and Chief Digital Officer at Cushman & Wakefield. He provides strategic and operational direction for Cushman & Wakefield’s client facing and colleague technology systems and infrastructure across all global business lines. Drawing on his more than 20 years of industry experience and as an integral member of the global executive team, Adam is a change agent with proven success driving growth, performance, talent retention and innovation.