Why Are CRE Professionals Still Operating With ‘Flip Phones?’
Imagine a motorist who is lost in an unfamiliar town and running late for an appointment. She desperately needs directions, but unfortunately, the only technology at hand is a 1990s-era flip phone. Good luck calling up a map with that, let alone searching online for an address.
To Greg Carpentier, co-founder and CEO of floorwire, today’s building owners, managers, architects and brokers are no better off than that lost driver. Reliant on dated tools — email, for example — to share and track the thousands of data points unique to each building, they are missing out on the advantages of more advanced technology that centralizes and synthesizes information.
The problem becomes painfully clear when it is time to review information before closing a deal or even renovate a single floor or office. Stakeholders are left grasping for answers to questions like: Do we know the location of all utilities? Are there enough bathrooms to accommodate the tenant’s headcount?
“The commercial real estate industry as a whole is at this technology inflection point,” said Carpentier, whose company helps users track and share architectural floor plans through a centralized dashboard. “A lot of the day-to-day operational tasks are still completed using the equivalent of that flip phone technology.”
Before he helped launch floorwire in 2020, Carpentier saw the phenomenon firsthand in his previous role at one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services firms. While fintech had come to define modern banking, he said, it was clear that proptech hadn't made the same inroads into commercial real estate.
“You were talking about multimillion-dollar deals that were getting done on PDFs or with Sharpies, by word of mouth and with handshakes,” Carpentier said. “It was just staggering the inefficiencies in that and the amount of money that was just thrown out the door.”
Money continues to exit the door today, he added. Commercial office landlords, for example, might lack access to correct floor plans and other important details that are needed to win a new deal or plan for critical capital improvements. Architects waste valuable time trying to track this information down, stymied by information silos. And as a result, Carpentier said, brokers question the accuracy of the data involved in a transaction, leading to more time spent validating accuracy or re-creating information.
Floorwire seeks to remedy this problem by providing a single platform to allow CRE stakeholders to centralize, view and share CADs, commercial floor plans and measurement data. The goal is to provide greater visibility into and control of information, boosting their confidence, expediting projects and ensuring timely execution of investments.
All stakeholders can benefit from a centralized information hub, Carpentier said. Architects, for instance, will find that floorwire complements their workflows, but there are advantages for brokers and others too.
“For owners and asset managers, who have money and credibility on the line, it gives them more organization and control," he said. "Think about the need for tenants to rethink their spaces. Owners need to make it as easy as possible to collaborate on potential changes. As for the managers of the buildings, it's a reduction in headaches, time wasted and unnecessary risk. We're actually taking away from the million other tasks that are on their plate.”
Carpentier said that floorwire’s dashboard provides information that can instantly answer stakeholders' questions. This is particularly helpful now that investors are focused on a building’s sustainability. With a tool like floorwire, they can see what steps the owner has taken to improve efficiency, potentially increasing the building’s value.
He described this technology as no longer something that is “nice to have; it's going to be a need to have” — sort of like that motorist who wishes she had exchanged her old flip phone for newer technology.
“We have made it our mission to focus on floor plans and to offer that smartphonelike upgrade that will help guide decisions that require the use of architectural data,” Carpentier said.
This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and floorwire. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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