Cause for Optimism on the Tech Front

With the start of 2024, I’ve had a chance to reflect on conversations with real estate leaders over the last year and in particular, over the last few weeks. For the last couple of years Deloitte has hosted real estate leaders’ forums, during which I’ve had an opportunity to discuss market trends and challenges with leaders from firms across the country. If you haven’t been, and you’re interested in participating in the conversation next year about the CRE market, our annual commercial real estate outlook, and usually a people and a tech topic, please let me know.

Last month’s column focused on my tech predictions for 2024. Reading that column with fresh eyes, it occurs to me that I sounded a little pessimistic. And those who know me would get through a great many adjectives describing me before they got to “pessimistic.”  But after reflecting on those recent conversations at Deloitte’s real estate leader forums, I’m actually heading into the year ahead with great optimism for what’s possible in the commercial real estate industry.

John D’Angelo

Rather than finding CRE clients stuck with little to spend in a very conservative posture, I found that many are moving from repaying technology debt (if applicable) toward investigating, piloting, or using the next generation of tools and technologies that will move our industry forward. Still, several who are in the process of updating and integrating core systems and data (in other words, busy with projects that must be done) are also advancing next-gen tech. Finally, very few of those with whom I spoke seemed mired in a last-generation tech platform and unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Bravo.

I recently had a chance to interact with the next generation of leadership for what we used to call the CIO (Chief Information Officer) or CTO (Chief Technology Officer), but now call CDO (Chief Data Officer) or CIO (Chief Innovation Officer), who are ascending to a C-level roles. From what I observed, these individuals are going to do a great job of leading the real estate industry into the future. They understand the value of connecting with their peers and sharing information. They’re intellectually curious, identifying and tracking emerging technologies that hold promise. They deeply understand the core business that they support, the work required to run that business, and the way that work gets done. With leadership alignment, investment and trust, these future leaders will oversee a tremendous amount of change in the nature of work in commercial real estate and how that work gets done.

Image by Jorm Sangsorn/
Image by Jorm Sangsorn/

Throughout my career, I have successfully led projects that have brought a tremendous amount of change to client organizations. I acknowledge that I may be one of the few people that enjoys and gets energy from change. I get it. It’s hard to give up something known (however bad or inefficient that thing may be) for something new that is also unfamiliar, must be learned, requires effort to integrate and maybe even means adopting new work habits. However promising the future may seem, it takes effort and commitment to get there. So, yeah, I understand that what is exciting and energizing to me might be enervating and exhausting to you. Having said that, I believe deeply that the technology changes coming to our industry will generate new opportunities that will change how we interact with information and shift human labor to increasingly more valuable activities. So, not just in the next year, but in the years beyond, I’m excited to see what we do together.

John D’Angelo is a managing director with Deloitte and the firm’s real estate solutions leader, designing solutions to address client challenges and push the industry forward. With over 30 years of experience as a management consultant to the global real estate industry, John has helped some of the biggest names in real estate leverage technology and use data to optimize and transform their operations.

Read the February 2024 issue of CPE.

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