July 2021

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Is Changing the Narrative Part of the New?

Change can help us re-evaluate and improve on many past breakthroughs, rendering them viable again or perhaps even for the first time.
marcMarc Petock
Chief Marketing & Communications Officer,
Lynxspring, Inc.

Contributing Editor

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Smart buildings are not new for those of us in the industry, but they remain relatively mis-understood entities for many operators. Generally, owners and operators understand that smart buildings are rich in technology that is supposed to improve their operations, make them more efficient, but they all-too-often, find themselves struggling to understand the technology and adapt to the way the technology should be a must have instead of a nice to have.


When it comes to change, we intuitively think disruption; especially in our post-pandemic recovery, where change is happening all the time and as we continue the digital transformation journey of integrating people, processes, and technology. However, the potential of change doesn’t just wait for the future, it also rests in the past. Change can help us re-evaluate and improve on many past breakthroughs, rendering them viable again or perhaps even for the first time.


Our buildings have changed. For many years, occupants came into their buildings in the morning, accessed with a physical key or keycard, and left in the evening. Their comfort, the lighting, their space was never given a thought, as it just worked. Generally, it was taken for granted. But that has changed. For years now, our buildings have been trending toward ones that are connected, interconnected, integrated, data centric and driven and occupant experience oriented. Now, fueled by the pandemic, and the renewed push to be sustainable have made our buildings anything but traditional.

As technology and solution providers, we talk at length about what building transformation looks like, to opportunities to enhance it. Talking about technology is easier to talk about than talking about outcomes. When it comes down to it, maybe the innovation that’s needed isn’t more technology but a change in the narrative and the conversation. To realize technology's full potential, we must better understand and converse what the business, financial, strategic importance, and outcome implications are.

So, what questions we should be asking ourselves?


Should discussions involving savings, change to include revenue, profitability, capitalization rates, occupancy costs, percentage of revenue, space utilization and increasing building asset value? 


Should we start with the customer and work backwards to the technology? Our industry’s love affair with tech is at an all-time high – almost to the point of infatuation. Are we too focused on tech? Is it too much of providers saying, “we are developing/making this” versus not listening to what owner/operators want and truly understanding their challenges, their problems, and the outcomes they are looking to achieve?


At every stage of the development life cycle, technology promises change to the way we work, the way we do things and the way we need to operate. Is the market tired of change?


How do we move the conversation on decisions from “nice to have” to must haves?

What, if any, does Proptech/CRE Tech have on the built environment? Has it caused expectations to change? 

Is there an “unsaid” trust issue between owners/operators and providers?



Smarter buildings are now about providing the environment and services operators need to do and whatever it is they wish to do. We need to get better at delivering solutions that solve owner/operator challenges (problems) and achieve their business and strategic outcomes. Innovation in the built environment is more concerned with transforming buildings (yes important) and less concerned with improving the flows of money that underpin them and the financial risks.


Conversations need to incorporate what the business, economic, strategic importance, and outcome implications are. Taking the time to align conversations around these can positively impact an organization’s ability to accomplish them.


Today, the discussion needs to include the “real estate” conversation and how we help to deliver both the operator and occupant experience and extract value and profitability from buildings. It’s not always about changing the way we do things. Perhaps, we should recognize that much of the new isn’t disruptive at all, but rather

a bridge between the past and the future.



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