FEATURE: Digitising the workplace is just the beginning of a mega-trend in the commercial property industry



By John Christian, Digital & Technology Leader Asia Pacific at CBRE 360

“Surely I should be able walk to my work and have my coffee ready and waiting for me when I arrive.” That’s the challenge put forward from a client when asked how we could make the little moments matter more for employees while inside our clients’ buildings. 

And so we went to work. 

But we’ll get back to the coffee problem in a moment.

Over the past few years, one thing that’s become really clear is that the future of the commercial property market is more and more about ‘connectedness’ - whether that’s connecting to your legacy systems, building management system, car parking and occupancy sensors, meeting room engines, fault reporting systems, concierge, energy and sustainability metrics, lease and accounting systems. 

There’s a new generation of tenants coming through the ranks who are signing the rent cheques, and they are tech savvy. They are used to a connected environment in every other facet of their life and now they demand it from their workplace too. 

And this is just the beginning. Digitising the workplace is just the beginning of a mega-trend in the commercial space. The data that will be analysed will help turn our metro business districts into optimal thriving sanctuaries of productivity and innovation. Data will be no doubt be aggregated back to councils to improve town planning metrics, define and meet demographic trends and perhaps even help define policy. 

It all comes back to this idea of empowering a worker through a ‘smart building’ that, as a whole, helps define and give rise to a ‘smart city’. There is true power in numbers.  

Another trend we’re noticing when it comes to digitising the workplace, is that our clients are really saying: "What can we do digitally to help improve ourselves, improve our environmental impact or reduce it?" Sustainability, going ‘green’ and health and wellness are all values that are becoming more and more important. Our clients want to be seen as supporting and contributing to sustainable change.

But back to the coffee problem.

“Of course your coffee should be ready and waiting for you. Not sure how that’s going to happen - but let’s figure it out.”

Within four weeks we had an initial prototype that incorporated mobile geo-fencing technology, cloud-based ecommerce and Point of Sale integration from a team of one sitting in Brisbane. With the proof of concept realised, the bar was set for a product that just 18 months later would take out the “Game Changer of the Year - 2018” award at the prestigious Australian Real-Estate Awards.  

That ability to hear an idea, innovate, patent and develop a modern solution to an everyday problem all within the space of a few months not only garnered the attention of our client, but also CBRE as an institution. As a result, CBRE 360 was conceived and combined with technology partners at CBRE Dallas, it has become the latest in our core strategic product offering.

CBRE 360 as it is today has transformed into a global workplace experience platform with a vibrant user base across the globe, with installations in four continents. And it’s all happened in less than 12 months from go-live date.

It offers a fully integrated solution to help people create superior workplace environments that are modern, connected and convenient - the kind of workplace that others would envy the chance to work at for its modcons and perks, truly setting it apart any other work space.

Workers can arrange everything from dry cleaning to shoe shining services and any other services located nearby, in and around the building. They can access hyper-local news and relevant content to help inform their day and find inspiration. Employees can be instantly alerted of emergent information or evacuations, and users can make service requests and complete on the spot fault reporting - it’s as easy as taking a photo and clicking a button. 

Shared co-working spaces, building events and concierge are also but a click away. And there’s a social element to the app, which helps to create and foster a sense of community within the building. 

It all ultimately creates seamless integration to help employees achieve the most productive day possible and give them back their most valuable commodity - time.

Looking back, when this whole journey began, CBRE had no digital innovation division here in Brisbane - we had to fight for our existence as technical development was typically off-shored. 

But our leaders understood the importance of what it means to be truly agile, and our Brisbane team is now growing at a rate of knots. And to think it all started with a client wanting their cup of morning coffee ready and waiting for them when they arrived. Who would have thought?

No doubt, CBRE 360 will continue to evolve and adapt to stay ahead of the curve and meet the rising expectations of our increasingly digital-savvy and ‘connected’ clients in the years ahead. This is just the start.

Throughout the development of CBRE 360 Brisbane has proven itself to be able to rise to the international stage. Our culture, even in big business, fosters a start-up mentality and our government initiatives, incubator programs and overall standard of living

And there’s no doubt that CBRE 360 being able to get off the ground in such a short time, with such gusto, speaks volumes to the local startup mentality, initiatives and incubators, and supportive culture that allows some of the best minds to flourish right here in Brisbane. 

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