Mind the (data) gapNovember 17, 2014 / By
Recently, I saw two headlines which summarise the dichotomous view of data and analytics: one said ‘Saving the World? How Big Data Is Tackling Everything From Cancer to Slavery’ but it was sitting within a special page on the Bloomberg website entitled ‘Buried in Big Data.’ Indeed, big data – or any data–and the analytical tools that turn it into actionable insights provide massive opportunity, but can be equally daunting. While some industries or functions are known for capitalising on the power of analytics and big data (retail; banking; risk management),others have made less progress, for reasons of (at least perceived) lack of data, unwillingness or inability to invest in technology tools and specialists, or remaining scepticism about its value – no surprise given the hype-o-metre is off the chart.
JLL recently commissioned a survey from the global technology market research firm, Forrester Consulting, to assess corporate real estate’s current and planned data and analytics strategy, and how it supports the broader businesses of which they are a part. The survey reveals that the number of corporate real estate leaders who plan to be ‘data-centric’ – using CRE data to shape all their decisions—will double in the next three years from 28% to 56% (see figure 1). So there is a clear appetite to use the wealth of data that exists in real estate portfolios to drive better and faster decision-making, and to ultimately differentiate and generate competitive advantage. This is supported by, for many companies, a broader effort spearheaded by the C-suite, and backed up by increasing financial resources.
However, when probed in more detail, it seems that the CRE function is lacking some of the capabilities that are essential in achieving ‘data-centricity.’ They are focusing too much on how to get the data, and less the insights that it generates. While they say they are strongest at data gathering and storage, their weakest perceived capabilities are those which in fact add the most value – like establishing data and governance policy. It’s not entirely their fault – organisational barriers like fragmented data initiatives, and limited sharing of data across functions are standing in their way as well (which prevents the combination of different data series, both in and out of real estate to yield breakthrough insights). More disappointingly, CRE leaders are not seeing value in some of the most powerful tools – like real time and predictive analytics. This is a missed opportunity.
So how can they fill the gap between where they are and where they want to be, given these challenges? Stepping up efforts to work across departments to drive data and analytics, in acknowledgement of shared corporate goals, pivoting towards strategic rather than tactical data and analytics efforts, and cultivating/recruiting talent are just a start.
Read more in the upcoming paper from Forrester Consulting commissioned by JLL: ‘Mind the Data Gap: Aspiration vs. Reality in Corporate Real Estate.’