Commercial Real Estate: How to implement tech in CRE – Three lessons learned


Earlier this year, Situs gathered leaders in commercial real estate finance to discuss the latest technology trends in the industry. Here are the top three takeaways from the panel discussion.

1. Start With Business Objectives
Before any organization implements new tools or technologies, it must first determine what it is trying to accomplish.

Amid a discussion of the latest technologies that are available, Nicole Bozich, co-head of Situs’ Advisory Services, said, “A single technology is not the answer. It really is about integrating the right technologies in service of the outcomes you are trying to achieve.”

Panel member Stark Hayden, Senior Vice President, Technology Division, Regions Bank, put it another way.

“Organizations should define their problem statement first and then determine which tools and technologies can be used to help solve it,” Hayden said. “Focusing first on understanding the problem and the current state will help organizations successfully align technology investments with business objectives.”

2. Build a Great Foundation
Panelists agreed that setting a strong foundation is a critical first step prior to implementing technology. It sets an organization up for success and ensures that investments are put to their best use. “While some organizations already have a great process in place, many do not,” Bozich said. “The opportunity is to use a technology initiative as a spark to rally teams to re-evaluate and reimagine organizational processes to set itself up for success.”

“Every organization is looking for ways to work more efficiently, and technology can provide that pathway,” said panelist Susan BrownExecutive Vice President, Wholesale Operational Excellence Division, SunTrust Banks, Inc. But what’s more important is what she called “intelligent automation.” “If you try to implement automation on top of a bad foundation, then all you’re doing is automating (and investing in) an inefficiency,” Brown said.

3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Identifying and implementing technology is key, but all panel participants agreed that if you fail to gain employee buy-in, everything else is moot.  Panelist Patrick JansonChief Operating Officer, ProDeal, noted that change isn’t a one-time thing – it’s a journey.

“Nobody likes change,” Janson said. “No matter what it is, it creates a lot of internal anxiety – Are the robots coming to take my job, why do I have to do this? – and it’s important to have upper-level management clearly communicate how this aligns with your business goals and how it will add value to clients and employees alike.”

”If the changes are communicated properly, they can boost morale throughout an organization,” said Jeff MillerSenior Vice President, Head of Wholesale Process Engineering and Intelligent Automation, Wells Fargo.

“Engaging just a few process owners and demonstrating the capabilities, creating energy and excitement, and establishing champions … and all of sudden you have new ideas and everybody wants to be a part of it,” Miller said.

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