Since the beginning of the internet age, new communications technologies have always been introduced and adopted by the commercial real estate industry.
After the birth of digital cellular and the growth of cell sites and towers as an industry sector, commercial real estate owners and developers were inundated by wireless and fixed wireless carriers to secure building rooftops as a source of high-growth asset value.
Soon after the growth of in-building systems, DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) emerged as a technology asset that would provide double the value. DAS promised to provide indoor coverage and capacity for tenants using mobile networks within buildings and would also contribute an increase in asset value for the building property as a whole.
Then, the key questions for finance-savvy real estate professionals became, who owned the digital infrastructure and what was the ROI on this capital cost? Twenty years later, these questions continue to loom even higher and the answers are not any clearer for commercial real estate owners and operators.
Today, the difference is that the business of communications is changing just as fast as the technology solutions themselves.
DAS, WI-FI, SMALL CELLS, CBRS – AN ALPHABET OF ALTERNATIVES
While DAS and Wi-Fi remain tried and true solutions for nearly every real estate professional and tenant, a set of new and distinct technologies have emerged, each purported to solve key business challenges. IoT (Internet of Things), micro-location technologies, software defined networks, small cells, millimeter wave wireless; all permeate the technology press as well as the commercial real estate media.
Lately, Private LTE networks have emerged, made possible by CBRS and its unique licensed spectrum sharing software platforms. This is a new and powerful network opportunity for tenants as well as landlords. Unfortunately, the best definition of CBRS and Private LTE varies according to the vendor and the use case.
Perhaps the most important question facing commercial real estate professionals is, how should they formulate a strategy on the investment and return of the digital infrastructure inside and outside their properties? In many parts of the nation, being first to market with a unique value proposition focused on high-bandwidth low-latency network infrastructure can mean the difference between growth and stagnation.
COMMUNICATIONS: MORE THAN A UTILITY; A MARKET DIFFERENTIATOR
There is a seismic shift underway across many industries as businesses move computing from offices and centralized data centers to a distributed infrastructure and toward the “edge of the network.” The interconnection between businesses and cloud services is both necessary and useful.
For CRE professionals, that means business tenants will require access to software and systems ‘in the cloud,’ and the high-bandwidth network that supports it.
However, as more computing and data management capabilities are accessed in the cloud, we must also be aware about the rise of cybersecurity threats. The World Economic Forum has ranked breaches in cybersecurity as one of the top risks facing our global community. No company or individual is immune to the cybersecurity challenges we face today or will face in the future. The financial loss attributed to cyberattacks continues to impact economies worldwide and is estimated to cost $6 trillion USD annually by 2021.
Data regulation, data management, digital transformation – these are global business trends that are no longer for the global 100 organizations. Cloud computing, edge computing, cyber-security solutions, and just plain old mobile communications; these are significant components to how businesses make real estate decisions.
AN IMMERSION IN TOMORROW’S TECHNOLOGY, TODAY
If there is one constant in the convergence of commercial real estate and technology, it is that change is accelerating. The technology infrastructure investments made today in the commercial real estate sector will affect profitability tomorrow.
How do you navigate the issues? How do CRE professionals understand the wide array of technology choices, business models, and partners?
One way is to gain an immersion in the business of communications and the infrastructure of the next generation of networks. The annual Connect (X) conference and trade show presents business as well as technology information in one two-day event; plus, an exhibition featuring examples of the products and services that your tenants will soon be asking for by name.
The 21st century economy is reliant on communications and computing. Now is the time to formulate your digital infrastructure strategy. Make plans to send your technology team to Connect (X) 2020, next May in Miami, Florida.