By Adam Stanley, Global CIO and Kevin Loftis, Americas CIO
Consolidation in the Commercial Real Estate industry is inevitable. Few companies are more aware of the opportunities that can result from integration than Cushman & Wakefield. The recent announcement of the merger between VTS and Hightower demonstrates that this trend also exists in the tech sector supporting CRE. While perhaps the claim this is the 3rd “big thing” is a bit of hyperbole, this is an exciting and positive trend. The new VTS has tremendous potential to result in a more robust, unified platform that will help us better serve our clients and drive value for our producers.
Both firms identified the same unmet business need and, for three years, have fiercely competed for investment and shelf space. This “arms race” resulted in accelerated innovation within both products; new features were being delivered at a breakneck pace. We will be curious to watch how the newly-combined firm approaches R&D and whether the same pace of change will continue. The good news is that the execs from both sides shared a very similar philosophy of solving their clients’ largest business challenges, not just building software. Even more positive, however, is they do build good software.
From an adoption perspective, we’ve had brokers who are staunch advocates of one platform or the other. However, when really pushed, it has been a challenge to solicit quantifiable leans one way or the other. Considering mobility, usability and data integration, the two platforms maintained a very similar approach to overall UX and, on average, our brokers could really have gone either way. That would seem to be a strong indication that these two platforms – and product teams – will be better as one. A unified platform also solves one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced: the consolidation of our data.
While competition stimulates aggressive product development, having multiple choices limits our ability to easily derive insights from a consolidated data set. Doing so from disparate systems requires an incremental investment on our part and we are excited to see that complexity and cost go away. Simplifying our technology footprint is a strategic goal for Cushman & Wakefield and this merger certainly moves us in that direction. Having a collaborative technology partner with solid combined leadership from both VTS and Hightower to help us better serve our clients is icing on the cake.
That said, we do want to call out one potential risk out there, and urge VTS to avoid the trap of bad behavior that can come with the reduction of competition. We’ve seen it before. Keep innovating. Keep partnering and building relationships. The value you can create is tremendous and the impact you can have on our industry is significant. We look forward to seeing a new emerging technology leader in our industry and hope your success paves a path for others to come.
Adam provides strategic and operational direction for Cushman & Wakefield’s client facing and colleague technology systems and infrastructure across all global business lines. As Global CIO, and a member of the Management Committee, he also serves as Chief Client Technology Evangelist, advocating for the best solutions for the best clients, supported by the best talent. 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. Follow Adam @ALSWharton.
Kevin has over 25 years of experience in all aspects of Information Technology in various industries. As CIO, he oversees the firm’s Information Technology function, with a focus on identifying new ways of leveraging technology to drive competitive advantage for the Americas division. With extensive experience in aligning technology strategies to support key corporate objectives, he has a track record of driving value through organizational restructuring, cost-containment, M&A due diligence and customer-facing technology solutions.