Guest Author: Ron Rossi, Vice President of Business Development, IMS
IMS recently sponsored IMN’s 6th Annual Real Estate CFO & COO Forum in San Diego, CA. Ron Rossi, VP of Business Development with IMS, participated as a panelist to discuss FinTech and the challenges and opportunities that are inherent in commercial real estate. Ron was joined by Kristen Thomasino, Min Suh, Greg Saunders, and Derek Thornhill, and the roundtable was moderated by Ray Haarstick.
The panel shared valuable insights into the latest innovations that drive back-office efficiency and transparent investor communications. Everyone in commercial real estate can appreciate that it is a data-driven business and that data can be a valuable asset, but without processes and technology, data too often sits idle in disparate systems. There are opportunities to turn data into actionable insights, but the question is always how.
Greg shed some light on how to begin the journey of finding value in data. His firm’s approach was to build a technology solution, but in order to do that, they first had to decide what problems they wanted the technology to address. During this phase, they realized they had some processes that were in need of streamlining. Ron was able to share similar experiences that IMS has had with clients and processes that were outdated and bespoke. Technology is always going to be a great tool for enhancing workflows and driving process improvements, which leads to tremendous efficiencies down the line.
The panel went on to discuss how important it is to aggregate all of the data that has been collected. Min works with clients that have years of financial data that is used to run valuations based on property cash flows. In his experience, having accurate historical data that can be analyzed quickly by many people within an organization can save days of time. And of course, time is money and those days equate to value.
When thinking about technology solutions, it is also important to work with providers that have an open data architecture and are willing and able to collect data from other providers. Kristen has spent her career focusing on partnerships and integrating with companies. Commercial real estate owners often have multiple systems to manage their company, investors, and assets. If those systems don’t talk to one another – preferably through an API, added Ray – then you will be managing multiple data sets and processes.
The panel next shifted the discussion to client and investor expectations. Ron and Derek discussed the increasing expectations around real-time reporting and access to information. Derek works with his clients to create reports and dashboards that allow their clients to make well-informed decisions based on consistent data sets. Ron and Ray drove home the fact that these expectations are only going to continue as investors demand transparency. There is a major shift in demographics when it comes to investors, as Millennials now make up a large percentage of the overall investor base. They don’t want to pick up the phone to ask questions. Rather, they want to utilize their mobile device or app to make and monitor their investments.
The panel concluded with a question from the audience about the implementation process. All of the panelists spoke to the need for setting mutual expectations and holding each other accountable to a project plan. The plan should allow for the delivery of features that can be used during the process – it’s important to get some wins along the way. Certainly, it is a time commitment but well worth the investment when you consider how technology can mitigate risk and drive efficiencies in the business.