How to Integrate Your Data and Discover New Opportunities in Your CRE Strategy

Written by Sandra Panara, Director of Workspace Insights

How we fit the traditional office into our lives will continue to change as organizations, individuals, and families adapt to new norms. SMART technology captures our movements round-the-clock, including where we are and what we do. The behavioral patterns identified are then translated into personalized recommendations that aim to enhance our day-to-day routine.

Data collection within an organization is occurring, but not always through SMART technologies. Systems like security access controls and Wi-Fi for example, capture employee information ‘as it happens’. Other systems like a room reservation or calendar system capture employee intent. By observing these independent data sources together, we can confirm the opportunities for successful change.

Here’s the best kept secret: Organizational data can be connected (and integrated) with different and unrelated data from other systems, which can be internal or external to the organization. Simply stated, connected data fills in the blanks and brings clarity.

When data is connected, it seamlessly ‘collaborates’ with other linked data, creating never-before-seen context that uncovers new opportunities to pursue and which are highly relevant to the organization. Rather than turning to external benchmarking studies, which is a common practice in Corporate Real Estate (CRE), integrated data is foundational for internal benchmarking because it provides context. While the ownership and original purpose of both the systems and their respective data outputs remain constant, the practice of sharing outputs creates a new ‘pool’ of data. Often referred to as a data warehouse, this data pool stores valuable consolidated information that others in the organization can use for new purposes.

For example, on its own, CRE might use current daily security badging data to observe that the daily occupancy right now is trending at 15-20%. If that badging data were integrated with HR data, patterns observed to identify from which business units, job functions, age groups, tenure groups and even commuting patterns would drastically improve understanding the new workforce target market and the new purpose of the office. It is this level of detail which truly enables effective planning to support the future needs of the workforce.

The Need for The Continuous Feed

Data captured in real time serves ‘just in time’ responsiveness facilitating better workplace experiences. When data is connected, it’s updated according to the intervals of time used to capture it, ensuring that opportunities and recommendations that surface are relevant. This is significant for CRE teams, since often, workplace analytics become obsolete almost as soon as the data is captured because they represent only a moment in time.

However, real time data ages and transforms into historical data. When there’s enough historical data available, it often becomes statistically significant. As such, organizations can use this new historical data to begin to explore anomalies, to assess how their workplace related behaviors are changing, including where, and why.

Knowing how many people are in a building or on a floor and precisely for which building, or floor is a common use case. However deeper insights about the changing purpose of the office, for example, require added context, which can be effectively achieved through data integrations. The value of integrated data is uncovering those measurable critical factors that are foundational for implementing and managing change successfully.

A continuous data feed supports the timeliness of response that allows for immediate course correction to ensure optimal performance in any service-driven organization.

Data Is Power – If You Know How to Use It

For CRE, workplace analytics almost always presented significant opportunities to reduce and/or optimize space. While cost savings has forever been a foundational driver, there are newer emerging considerations for re-purposing space that increase both revenue and brand equity. Long term leases with no ‘out clauses’ shouldn’t discount the importance of knowing what the opportunities are.

While traditionally, CRE has consulted data to craft their strategies to solve known problems, deeper learning is possible using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to explore patterns. This is a game changer.

Where before, unused space might have been stranded, sitting abandoned and idle, new never-before-seen insights that are aligned with corporate values, objectives and goals have the potential to open new doors to converting those spaces into revenue generating machines.

Data integrations are the roadmap to success for CRE because they inform the changes required to ensure optimal user experiences.

They enable workplace optimization by understanding the intricacies of people, place, process, and technology first-hand, thereby elevating the role of real estate professionals to new heights. Work has left the building and as a result, workplace strategy as we know it, will need to change. Where once the objective was to deliver great spaces to work, the objective now will be to deliver alternative safe, healthy, timely, productive, and personalized experiences.

The analysis of linked data surfaces unique behavioral insights that support the big picture. It’s organizational storytelling — uncovering the ‘why’ for the much-needed change.

A Real-World Application of Data Integrations

A current example of how data integrations can be used today is when an organization is trying to determine who can be flexible as offices consider re-opening.

HR, for example, might be exploring opportunities to identify users that would be ideal for flexible work by assessing which job functions could be performed outside the office. While the job function itself might be an indicator, there are other factors that influence the success of a flexible work program.

From the organization’s perspective, this includes technology infrastructure, hardware and software provisions, and any regulatory compliance rules that must be adhered to for confidentiality and security reasons.

For employees, their individual and familial situations will continue to play a large part in their preference of ‘in office’ vs. ‘out of office’ work.

To guide the decision-making process, an organization could survey their employees to understand preferences. They could also look at accessible demographics to make some assumptions and then blend outcomes with their own internal assessment to support decisions that yield the best results for both the organization and employees.

However, when technology is used to integrate data, the added value of using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence automates relevant recommendations based on observed complicated patterns in the data. Achieving such insights would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to replicate through manual assessment. Additionally, assessment via automation can be continuously responsive to accommodate employees as circumstances change in a timely and incremental manner, rather than being approached as a change management initiative, often causing major business disruption.

Conexus Workplace Analytics & Insights – The Only Workplace Strategy Tool You’ll Need

Data literacy is lagging in most CRE organizations. Integrations that are critical to surface the right workplace analytics to inform strategy requires a continual balance of technical, analytical, and contextual expertise. It’s not common for internal teams to have this complementary skill set. It also demands significant effort and budget to accomplish internally, and there’s no guarantee of success.

The automation of data blending is possible with pre-built pipelines. Conexus by Relogix, is a workplace analytics and insights platform that seamlessly integrates your existing data so you can focus on what matters most – making timely and informed workplace related decisions to improve the effectiveness of your workforce.

Conexus performs the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to. Our solution is 100% scalable. You decide how much or how little data you share and iterate as many times as necessary to successfully right-size and optimize your workplace. Start capitalizing on the value of what your data has to offer within days, not months. Use the insights you’ll uncover to help you define your corporate DNA, which aims to understand the intersection of your people, places, and technology to inform and prioritize the right planning initiatives related to your real estate needs.

Click here to read more about Conexus and about how our solution solves your biggest data challenges.

About the Author

Sandra Panara, Director of Workspace Insights

Sandra is known for her deep understanding of Corporate Real Estate and Technology. With over 25 years hands-on experience in North America and the UK with RBC, Purolator, The Coca Cola Company and more. Sandra applies non-traditional approaches to extract deep learning from the most unsuspecting places in order to drive strategy. She has developed an appreciation for always challenging the status quo to provoke and encourage new ways of thinking that drive continuous improvement and innovation. Sandra believes square pegs can fit into round holes and that the real ‘misfits’ are environments that fail to adapt. Her expertise ranges broadly from CRE Portfolio analysis & Insights, Workforce Planning, Strategy Development to Space & Occupancy Planning.