Deloitte’s 2019 CRE Outlook Puts Tech at the Forefront

The annual report looks at technology, cybersecurity, talent and other issues driving investors’ decisions in the coming year.
Jim Berry
Jim Berry

Deloitte’s 2019 Commercial Real Estate Outlook has a subtitle: “Agility is the key to winning in the digital age” and the report—which includes and analyzes responses from 500 investors across the globe—looks at various ways technology is driving investors’ decisions now and in the future.  

“The data clearly indicates those real estate companies [that] are building agility into their strategies and daily operations will receive higher allocations of investment capital,” Jim Berry, Deloitte’s U.S. Real Estate leader, told Commercial Property Executive. “We note that 97 percent of those surveyed plan to increase their investment in CRE in the coming 18 months.”

Berry noted that the report showed some “clear preferences” on how those investments should be allocated including:

  • Mixed-use and nontraditional assets and new business models such as properties with flexible leases and spaces are expected to attract more investment dollars. More than half the respondents said they would increase property investments with flexible leases and 44 percent said they would with flexible spaces such as retail incubators or co-sharing work spaces in malls. As for nontraditional properties, the report stated investors are most likely to increase allocations in data centers (67 percent) and healthcare facilities (55 percent) followed by mobile towers (49 percent), single-family housing (47 percent) and student housing (29 percent).
  • Respondents expect to prioritize their investments in existing and potential investee companies they believe are responding to business model changes and adopting a variety of technologies to make buildings future-ready.
  • They expect to see a significant impact from technology advancements on legacy properties in less than three years.

“Technology innovation and evolving preferences of investors, tenants and end-users are redefining traditional commercial real estate business models and the use of built space,” Berry said. “Based on our survey results and if you follow the money, investors are really thinking longer term—the reward will come through investment in tech, talent and other key areas.” 

The survey also found more than 80 percent of respondents believe CRE companies should prioritize the use of predictive analytics and business intelligence and nearly two-fifths expect to increase their use of these technologies over the next 18 months. Of those responding, 62 percent said they prefer to have access to IoT data from CRE firms for their investment decisions.

“In our 2018 Outlook we stressed that now was the time to take some risks and invest in data management and embrace new technologies such as robotics and cognitive automation. The 2019 survey continues to point to a need for CRE companies to focus on making these additional investments in order to achieve competitive advantages,” Berry said, noting that the new survey found across all industries only one-fourth of companies have an enterprise-wide digital vision and strategy.

“A focus on this will allow the most bang for the buck on investments and allow for a comprehensive plan,” he added.

Cybersecurity concerns

The report also touched on other topics including cybersecurity, talent and PropTech. On cybersecurity, Berry said the top three cybersecurity challenges cited were the rapid IT changes and rising complexities, lack of detailed management response and ineffective security solutions. But only one quarter of the respondents stated they were very satisfied with current cybersecurity efforts. The report states CRE companies need to take a more proactive rather than reactive approach to managing cyber risks including using technology to strengthen sensing capability and enhance employee awareness.

Scarcity of skilled talent continues to be a problem faced by many CRE companies particularly as workplaces and the work itself becomes increasingly digitalized.

“Our survey showed 79 percent of respondents should do more to attract next-gen talent and 77 percent believe more should be done to re-tool Baby Boomers,” Berry said.

The survey found PropTechs are becoming more popular with CRE investors with respondents saying that on average their firms plan to commit 14 percent of their CRE capital to PropTech investments. Of that, 31 percent said they would invest in PropTech companies, 26 percent said they would partner with PropTech companies, 20 percent said they would launch or participate in accelerators and 17 percent said they would use the services of a PropTech company.

“We see more CRE companies finding ways to engage with PropTech companies,” Berry said. “The industry is beginning to move from seeing PropTechs as a disruptive force to be dealt with to an opportunity through partnering.”

Image courtesy of Deloitte