Technology, data, starting to transform commercial real estate: survey

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TORONTO — A new report says technology and data are finally shaking up the world of commercial real estate, allowing the industry to make more informed decisions and take on more complex projects.

Toronto-based Altus Group says a majority of 400 global commercial real estate executives surveyed are now seeing the disruptive impact of technology on the property sector for the first time in the five years the real estate group has been conducting the survey.

Altus CEO Bob Courteau says executives are starting to see that data, innovation and technology are going to be critical going forward, after some reluctance in the past to invest in areas beyond the bricks and mortar of real estate.

The change is clear at the executive level, where 80 per cent of firms said they have a chief data officer or equivalent senior executive, compared with only 44 per cent four years ago.

The increased data and efficiencies brought on by technology are allowing real estate firms to expand into growing spaces such as multi-family co-living, a sort of dorm-style arrangement with small private bedrooms and shared living and kitchen space, as well as co-working space and new models for retail.

Altus says a wave of investment in startups focused on real estate tech, or proptech, has created a huge number of players and the sector is ripe for consolidation.