Bryan Jacobs: Three Ways Data-Centric CRE Can Improve Productivity—and Impress Your CFO

It’s clear from the agenda for this year’s CoreNet...

It’s clear from the agenda for this year’s CoreNet Global North American Summit in Washington, D.C. that corporate real estate has become part of the C-suite’s larger quest for productivity. It’s a journey that today’s advanced data tools can expedite now more than ever. As one global head of real estate for a major corporation recently observed, “data is power.”

Many of the corporations represented as end-users in the CoreNet Global community have a long and successful history of using data and analytics in areas such as marketing their products or managing their supply chains. But for some, the real estate function has lagged in its use of data to drive insights and innovations.

Major advances in data and analytics have made corporate real estate business intelligence tools more insightful and relevant than previous technologies. However, the strategic benefits of these advances come more from the insights that humans—the CRE professionals—derive from the data than from the technology presenting the data.

In short, we have always been able to run the numbers. The difference today is that now we can aggregate and process more data, more quickly, to generate more accurate and compelling results.

For example, data visualizations in the form of tables or dashboards have long been used in our field. But now we can produce advanced visualizations that reveal the patterns and interrelationships hidden in large, complex data sets, and make these insights easier to understand, more interactive and accessible. Today’s powerful visualization tools can help CRE executives tell a more compelling story and increase their reach and influence within their organizations.


As corporate real estate teams focus more on enabling productivity, the insights that data and analytics can provide are all the more important. It’s critical to recognize how analytics can be used to drive competitive business advantage through the facilities a company occupies.

The application of analytics usually falls into one of two categories: identifying operational inefficiencies or highlighting strategic opportunities. Here are three ways companies are using the wealth of information emanating from their buildings to boost workplace and real estate asset productivity.

1) Predictive analysis: where do you need employees? New predictive analytics platforms enable teams to incorporate such disparate factors as lease expirations, projected capital investments and macro-economic trends into proof points that validate strategic investment, acquisition and disposition recommendations.

2) Challenging assumptions: which environmental sustainability programs contribute the most to the business? Companies have started to use data and analytics to determine which workplace sustainability programs contribute the most to overall productivity.

3) Smarter building management: what is your building data telling you? Today’s smart building technologies generate enormous volumes of data. Some companies are using real-time smart building management and control software, combined with analytics expertise, to aggregate and analyze building data. These capabilities allow facilities managers to maximize building performance, benchmark facilities across the portfolio, prevent costly and disruptive equipment failures, improve building energy efficiency and achieve significant cost savings.

The emergence of data and analytics has disrupted many industries—a paradigm shift that will be equally disruptive to CRE. We are just beginning to understand how analytics can unlock opportunities for CRE to drive actionable insights and competitive advantage.

Bryan Jacobs is a Managing Director with JLL. He can be reached at