NOTE TO READERS: This article was written in collaboration with The Real Deal.
Commercial real estate (CRE) has always relied on data to make informed decisions, drawing on market research, financial analysis and other inputs. However, the accessibility and availability of different, more valuable types of data are transforming the commercial real estate industry in unprecedented ways. The challenge, however, is in how to make efficient use of the data.
The Real Deal sat down with Caroline Stoll, Managing Director, Enterprise Data at LightBox, to discuss how their core connected data, plus data analytics capabilities are solving complex business needs across the commercial real estate ecosystem.
Beginning the journey toward digital transformation
There has been an explosion of data accessible to the market that can drive decision-making and business analytics, but making data actionable for the end user is a challenge broadly across the commercial real estate ecosystem. We can learn from other industries, like financial services, who went through similar digital transformation 25 years ago – and now benefit from well-defined standards and data accessibility for immediate decision making. In CRE, many firms still deploy manual processes, where data is accessed through spreadsheets and PDFs. Others have developed proprietary systems that analyze just their own data, which offers intelligence, but is limited to insights from their own transactions, leaving out critical detail about the broader market landscape. The good news, is that — no matter where you are in your digital transformation strategy — there are existing commercial off the shelf (COTS) tools and connected data infrastructure to activate your use of the mass amount of data available, and that’s where LightBox comes in.
“Highly fragmented data isn’t actionable,” Stoll explains. “LightBox has connected our core data offerings (parcels, building footprints, structures, and addresses) to give full context about a property at a national scale. Our platform is extensible, and our data feed and APIs are platform-agnostic providing extensibility to connect third-party data and customer’s proprietary data, delivering actionable data infrastructure in real-time. Because our data architecture is COTS + extensible, our customers are able to solve highly complex use cases in very simple form,” Stoll says, adding that the top brokerages, lending institutions and environmental engineering firms are among those making use of it.
Common challenges faced by the CRE industry
The CRE industry faces several common challenges that impede its progress and efficiency. There is a missed opportunity for firms and customers to take advantage of all the available data as it’s challenging to connect disparate internal and external datasets at scale. The difficulty in connecting and standardizing data can lead to inconsistent comparisons between properties and decisions that are not data driven. LightBox has spent years sourcing, connecting, and standardizing our data so it is connected consistently through an identifier scheme, the Lightbox ID (LID). Stoll says that, “every property, address, building footprint, and parcel in our database has a LID allowing customers to leverage our database through one unique identifier suite.”
As Stoll explains, LightBox touches every core user across the commercial real estate ecosystem and transaction lifecycle. The company has made significant investments to acquire companies with deep domain expertise and tied them together to offer insight into the entire journey. “We’re able to connect the dots and the data in a way no other company can, based on the fact that these assets have been perfected over the last 30 years by individual organizations that are now comprehensively LightBox,” Stoll explains. We have extensive property data as well as insight into trends related to listings, new developments, loan origination and appraiser volume because of who we service across the industry.
Helping clients unlock LightBox’s potential
Any change in a business or firm’s process can create concerns about the required resources in time and investment. After all, many firms have already invested millions of dollars in data feeds from other services and internal systems that support proprietary data. “It’s always a relief when they learn we are platform agnostic, and we can support you at any stage of your strategic roadmap,” Stoll says. When working with such large quantities of data, it’s imperative to have a foundational dataset to build on top of. The LightBox dataset, SmartFabric, can underpin a prospective customer’s entire database or workflow. “They can access a single, consistent source of truth with up to date, accurate data, rather than just using a data management application. It’s all connected through the LightBox Identifier (LID).”
The LID becomes even more powerful as customers can bring their own data into this schema. Whether it’s a portfolio of loan books or a list of potential development opportunities, customers can connect any proprietary data they have to the LightBox Identifier and access the LightBox database as well as any other third-party data partnerships in the LightBox ecosystem.
To help new users leverage the data platform to its fullest potential, LightBox offers high touch, technical onboarding and support with a team who will customize the training based on what the end user needs to be successful. “It’s a priority of ours to enable our customers.” During the implementation phase, the onboarding team can ensure there’s connection between the firm’s proprietary data and LightBox’s data. “We want to make sure the platform is being implemented correctly to address the problems they’re trying to solve.” The team will walk the client through questions about the data and hold technical exchange meetings to ensure the customer is getting the most out of it. “If there are certain data elements a customer doesn’t need, we will take it out. Our goal is to create a user-friendly experience.”
Connecting, relating and making data actionable for customers
A commercial real estate firm should be something other than a data warehousing firm, which is where LightBox can step in. “They should be focused on their core capabilities and competencies and how they drive revenue and growth,” Stoll says.
“Then they should lean on a partner like us who can drive decision-making with a fully out-of-the-box solution. By bringing together companies and solutions with deep expertise, LightBox offers rich domain expertise that can uniquely solve data needs holistically across the entire commercial real estate ecosystem.”
Are you ready to get a better handle on how data can inform your decision-making?
Learn more about LightBox today: CRE Data Analytics and Location Intelligence Platform | LightBox (lightboxre.com)
Talk to us: Contact Us | LightBox (lightboxre.com)