Technology Expands Scope of Commercial Real Estate
Currin, Darren, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Over the past decade, rapid advances in technology have led to numerous changes in the commercial real estate industry. From Internet-based technologies to wireless networking to personal computing and cell phone devices, technology has created a more global, efficient and competitive marketplace.
Peter Pike, president of Greenbrae, California-based PikeNet, a commercial real estate consulting firm, believes technology has impacted the industry in three specific ways - all related to information. The first simply being technology has allowed for greater access to information. Secondly, he said technology has allowed for dramatically increased speed of transmitting information, and finally it has also allowed for wider-spread use of information.
In terms of the growing assortment of technology tools available like Trio cell phones, wireless Internet and the various online software packages available to the industry, Pike said these tools have not changed the basic elements of commercial real estate, but are rather a natural progression of earlier tools.
"I do not think the fundamental process of commercial real estate has changed due to technology," Pike said. "Things like property management software or contact management software are really just an evolution of what we had before."
Oklahoma commercial brokers echoed Pike's comments, noting nearly all of the new technological devices and software they currently use is primarily related solely to obtaining and sending information at unprecedented speeds.
Marc Weinmeister, president of CommercialOKC, is well-known in the Oklahoma City market for his usage and knowledge of cutting- edge technologies. Not only does Weinmeister utilize numerous online Web sites and tools, he also has the capability to maintain a mobile office with his wireless computer and global positioning system technology. Since he focuses his brokerage on the retail market, Weinmeister said GPS and mapping software allows him to keep live electronic maps that showcase his clients' retail locations.
Furthermore, Weinmeister said technology has also been instrumental in allowing him as a small, independent firm to have nearly the same presence and competitive advantage many larger firms have on the Internet.
"Technology allows me from using sites like the CCIM site to do business the ability to market nationwide and internationally," he added, "and I can do it efficiently.
Larger firms like Grubb & Ellis-Levy Beffort are using technology to an even wider degree. Douglas Opp II, director of marketing and technology for the firm, said one of the key pieces of technology being used in its Oklahoma City office is wireless networking, which allows for greater mobility of the company's brokers within the office.
"We have layers of wireless coverage," explained Opp. "We have an open network containing wireless hotspots where if a client comes to the office they can get online without compromising network security. We have other wireless access points that are secured, allowing for the brokers to have greater mobility in the office with their laptops."
Additionally, Opp noted that many of the firm's brokers are using mobile devices and software such as Windows Mobile 5.0, which allows them to connect to their desktop and office network remotely from their house or out in the field.
"You can have all of your information on the fly and this has been instrumental in freeing up the brokers to spend more time on- site with their clients," Opp said. …