This article is second in a 3-part series, where we will delve into global trends affecting the Commercial Real Estate sector, how they have evolved in the past year and how professionals are adopting technology to stay ahead of the curve. If you missed our January webinar, led by Sine’s Global Sales Lead, Jordan King, be sure to check it out here. Part 1 of the series can be found here.


Commercial real estate (CRE) was once slow to embrace innovation. However, technological advances and post-pandemic real estate shifts, along with new economic, environmental, and safety concerns, have made PropTech a central component of maintaining large real estate portfolios.

For most businesses, the primary inhibitor to employing PropTech is a lack of centralization when it comes to monitoring all of their data. Each building is different and has to be retrofitted individually in order to install the technology necessary for monitoring, automation, and optimization. It’s a costly process that produces a lot of data, so it’s only logical that businesses are now looking for ways to centralize these operations so the information can be translated into useful action.

Unifying and integrating building systems

Both the pandemic and the growth of the Building Internet of Things (BIoT) have made the optimization of physical space a priority in CRE. From monitoring indoor air quality and adjusting HVAC systems on the fly to tracking foot traffic for social distancing purposes, building sensors can report on dozens of functions in real-time as well as generate reports about building efficiency.

But facilities using this kind of PropTech can’t keep track of dozens or hundreds of sensor apps throughout their real estate portfolio. They need a software platform to help monitor all of the operations in one place. Otherwise, the information overload leads to decision paralysis and real-time benefits evaporate.

Think about all of the things a state-of-the-art building can monitor: indoor air quality; lighting; HVAC and thermostat controls; occupant behavior and people flow (to name a few). While the data generated from BIoT sensors can help building be more compliant with public health goals, more energy efficient, safer, and more pleasant to occupy, that’s only possible when the data can be visualized, optimized, and made actionable.

The challenges of technology upgrades in CRE

Here’s the problem: building upgrades require significant up-front investment, so different types of sensors are often installed piecemeal. And typically they each come with their own native software. Of course, that proprietary legacy software rarely integrates well (if at all) into new systems, so the data from each type of sensor must be viewed in a different app. In this case, the information stays siloed and doesn’t provide facility managers with a complete picture of building efficiency (or lack thereof).

This is a problem for individual buildings, but a much bigger challenge for those with extensive CRE portfolios. Building managers don’t have time to monitor, manage, and control hundreds of systems. And it’s rare that a budget allows for starting all over again when it comes to installing new, fully-integrated sensor suites.

But when BIoT information is not centralized, businesses end up with each individual building running on its own system. In addition, on-site staff tend to be the only employees familiar with these individual systems, hindering large-scale transformation within a CRE portfolio.

While it’s necessary to have a fully-integrated and centralized platform that can talk to a variety of devices, a Deloitte survey found that 8 in 10 CRE firms polled did not have a modernized core system capable of incorporating emerging technologies. Only a quarter of respondents said their CRE companies are substantially increasing technology investments in order to bolster their asset management capabilities. This is where an API-focused approach comes in.

Image showing integrations through API

The power of an API-focused approach

Decision-makers are always hungry for data to inform new approaches, but piles of data alone aren’t useful. The goal is to harness data and render it readable and actionable. API-first technology allows for the integration and connectivity needed between platforms in order to render all PropTech sensor data maximally useful.

API-first technology helps companies seamlessly integrate modular pieces of software so they can repeatedly leverage the data that’s already been gathered. In other words, the tech gathers data from individual apps and puts it in a central repository in order to simplify access and reporting. This not only delivers a more engaging user experience, but allows building managers to visualize disparate data points in order to see the big picture so they can optimize their space and planning.

Engaging in a Data-Driven Strategy

Data needs to be actionable, otherwise it’s just noise. And there’s a lot at stake when it comes to making the most of commercial real estate in a pandemic and post-pandemic world where health protocols now rival security and sustainability needs. That’s part of the reason Honeywell Sine takes data integration and automation so seriously.

By implementing a vendor-agnostic, API-focused approach, Sine allows businesses that have extensive real estate portfolios to collect and optimize data about who is using a building as well as how and when in order to monitor safety and compliance and help owners and tenants get the most out of technology upgrades.

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