Tech Solutions for “Non-Tech” Challenges
Connecting the dots between Digital Twin Technology and Tenants
This month, I had the opportunity to attend Bisnow’s Boston Burbs Bonanza event and learn more about the evolution of the Boston suburbs. While the 128 Belt office market was seen by some as having a lack of net absorption in the past, I learned how the strength of the life science and technology industries continue to attract development along the greater Boston suburban belt in multifamily, mixed-use, and hotel sectors. The question for Commercial Real Estate developers is, “can we keep up with tenant demands”?
One takeaway I had after the event is that the challenges mentioned by panelists and attendees didn’t seem to, at first, be related to technology and tenants. Rather, they focused on tenant demands for easy access to a property, such as:
- Mobility and transportation;
- Development location; and
- Working with municipalities to accommodate growing tenant demands for building a community near the property.
Technology solutions cited during the event were limited to those that automate and facilitate a “tenant community” especially among mixed-use built assets. There’s a growing trend among developers to consider technology that helps them create an enhanced tenant community which they believe will increasingly impact investment decisions and returns. It’s why developers and owners are asking for gyms, eateries, coffee shops, salons, retail shops, and more to be incorporated into their projects or be available within walking distance.
Additionally, I learned more about the importance of avoiding a “stranded asset.” A stranded asset refers to a property which isn’t as valuable as originally planned because of circumstances beyond the immediate control of the owners. For example, there’s a growing concern in the Boston Seaport area that there isn’t enough parking for the growing number of commuters. PTC, a large tech company occupying a newly built office building at the Seaport, is receiving growing pressure from employees for more accessible parking spaces near the office. And improved public transportation to and out of the Seaport area. As a result, developers are now spending considerable time and effort working with Boston officials to seek solutions.
Better Business Solutions for Technology and Tenants
While I believe much of the challenges cited were a reflection of the event theme rather than a general trend in the market, I enjoyed speaking with other attendees about the value of asset information collection throughout design and construction. This process starts the creation of a Digital Twin – a digital representation of a property that maintains all the rich data from many different sources in one centralized data repository, accessible and usable throughout the life of the property down the road.
You may be asking yourself, “what does this process have to do with, say, improving parking options for PTC employees?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone, but let me explain. One potential solution for the parking shortage in the Seaport area discussed included automated parking technologies that could provide data about occupancy and peak times within a parking structure. This has the potential to improve tenant satisfaction, while also utilizing the pre-existing assets within a given area. However, to create such a solution, building information must be collected for developers to analyze and make decisions. Often, detailed building data is lost forever to the file cabinet or desktop, ultimately making information gathering impossible.
For high-quality data to be accessible, I always recommend the implementation of an information management strategy. This customized strategy outlines key milestones by which project teams are responsible for gathering data and documents from multiple sources, throughout various stages of the capital phase. Later, throughout operations, all of this data can be aggregated and made available in a Digital Twin, allowing owners to see not only all building data, but optimize building operations and maintenance. With this information at their fingertips, owners increase efficiency, lower running costs, and make better data driven decisions. This will help developers create attractive communities around their buildings which will increase their value and attract the right tenants. In the city and suburbs.
If you want to connect Digital Twin technology and tenants to find new ways to reduce costs, streamline your business processes, and improve building performance, contact us today.
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