Blog Viewer

Leading Experts Share Insights on Future of Tech


Coming to a Workplace Near You:

New Disruptive Tech Promises High Value to Building Owners and Users


(Washington, DC – February 2, 2018)  From blockchain to artificial intelligence (AI) to wearables, new disruptive technologies are bringing to commercial real estate greater efficiencies, higher returns on investment and enhanced user experiences in the workplace, according to leading experts at CoreNet Global Mid-Atlantic’s inaugural Technology Symposium. Technology innovators, entrepreneurs and corporate real estate decision-makers from around the country shared insights on changes that will radically shape the way corporate users acquire, manage and experience commercial space.


Fracking Comes to Real Estate

Keynote speaker Steve Wiekal, head of Industry Relations at MIT’s Center for Real Estate, noted they are tracking more than 2,220 real estate technology startups globally.  These companies are captivating venture capitalists who are investing nearly $3 billion into the space.  “It’s not a fad, it’s definitely a structural change to how we do business,” he said.


Weikal also noted that new technologies make possible “real estate fracking,” a term coined by MIT Prof. Dennis Frenchman to express how companies fracture the use of an asset into smaller pieces and reconfigure it in higher value contributions. 


“Think of what Zipcar and Uber did to cars and apply it to real estate,” Weikal said. “Two big examples are WeWork and Air BnB, which unlock value by increasing utilization. But there are other applications in all product types: LiquidSpace for empty meeting rooms, Pivot Desk for empty desks (coincidentally acquired by co-working provider Industrious), Flexe for vacant pallet space in warehouses, Clutter for empty self-storage, Spacious for idle restaurant tables in the afternoon, and others.  They all provide the tools to optimize and monetize under-utilized real estate. “ 


Other insights shared by the participants include:


Blockchain is a Game Changer

Real estate is the next candidate for blockchain because its “chain” of cryptographically linked data offers a secure, transparent and trusted single environment to organize and control all assets. By reducing the friction in the leasing and and contracting system, more deals can be done and more costs can be reduced.  


Sensors Create Understanding (but Caution Required)

Companies are likely to increase the use of sensors to better understand how and when their facilities are being used. But participants sounded strong notes of caution. Technology must be seen to have value by employees and others who use the buildings. Douglas Edwards, Vice President of Workplace Solutions for Humana, noted that employees  are resistant to their moves being tracked. They may regard the benefit to the corporate real estate department, but fail to see how it helps them. However, If monitoring helps them find a free conference room, a good parking space or easy access to a lunch menu, they are more likely to accept a perceived loss of privacy in exchange for worthwhile service. “You have to make it beneficial to employees.”


Lindsay Baker, CEO of Comfy, an app that allows users to control their workplace environment, notes that privacy will remain a critical factor.  Her app, for example has a privacy policy that protects the data of each individual user.

When creating their app, they started by asking, what do I want from the building as an occupant?  “It’s not just about streamlining or saving money anymore,” she said.

“The Internet of Things” Promotes Understanding of Interactions

“The Internet of Things” in the corporate world is about focusing on the people in the building and finding the commonality between the building and people working inside of it.  Wearable technology will allow real estate professionals to understand how the environment impacts users by gauging such measures as blood pressure, tone of voice, etc.  “Wearables create value for employees and lower healthcare costs,” said Samantha Fisher, Senior Director of Workplace Experience, Capital One.


“The Inaugural CoreNet Global Mid-Atlantic Technology Symposium highlighted many exciting and disruptive technologies that will change the way those of us in commercial real estate do business,” said Peter Van Emburgh, Senior Managing Director at CBRE and President of CoreNet’s Mid-Atlantic chapter.  “The discussion today helps us better understand its potential and reminds us that technology must be in service of people and not an end in and of itself.”




About CoreNet Global

CoreNet Global is the world's leading professional association for corporate real estate (CRE) and workplace executives, service providers and economic developers. CoreNet Global's 10,000 members, who include 70% of the top 100 U.S. companies and nearly half of the Global 2000, meet locally, globally and virtually to develop networks, share knowledge, learn and thrive professionally.  The Mid-Atlantic Chapter offers educational and networking opportunities for corporate real estate professionals from Baltmore through Richmond. For more information, please visit www.