Supply Chains & Real Estate – No Longer Disconnected by a Common Language

A little over a year ago I made my first ever visit across that big pond and immediately upon visiting London, was told to “Mind the gap” by the polite, omnipresent voice on the Piccadilly line. Excuse me? You mean “Watch your step”, right? Utterly confused, I trekked on to JLL’s office for a friendly visit. Not long after that visit, and to my surprise, I found myself in line to make a big move working in our London office. Something dawned on me – how was a lifetime Chicagoan supposed to adjust to life outside the Windy City for the first time, and to an even greater degree, a new country? I told myself it would be easy – after all I had just visited, had several connections in London, and even spoke the same language. I had expected the weather, the culinary shift, the over-apparent cultural differences, the mild-mannered dispositions, but what I was repeatedly warned about was the language. I was reminded:

England and America are two countries separated by the same language – George Bernard Shaw

I then realized why I was so confused on the subway…er…the tube. So I hit the books and began to translate American to English. After all, working in logistics property research I couldn’t possibly keep saying trucks in place of lorries. Confession: I still say truck, but at least I can hold my own in a conversation. Now while this remains a bit of an annoyance to some, I have at least made that attempt to speak the same language as my friends, neighbo(u)rs and colleagues.

Obviously a disconnection existed. This disconnection was not unlike the one that presents itself between the supply chain and real estate industries. More often than not, a supply chain is evaluated on its overall efficiency (and rightfully so) – very much the reason why plenty is often written on trends that will impact that same efficiency. At the same time, property is evaluated according to how it is performing in a given market. Similarly, plenty can also be written on overarching market trends impacting properties. Unfortunately however, these two are seldom considered together and to most remain mutually exclusive. It’s almost as if they are speaking two entirely different languages – albeit similar.

Now at the same time I was making my shift and transition to a new country, the JLL EMEA Logistics and Industrial team I was in the process of joining was also making a transition – a transition to a greater focus on the supply chain industry. JLL has attempted to bridge this disconnect by emphasising the importance of property in global, regional, and local supply chain strategies. Meanwhile, as we recently saw at Davos, world and business leaders are looking at how innovation will drive the next Industrial Revolution. JLL has taken this into consideration and is also focused on the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution and how it too will impact supply chain operations.

So over the last half year, JLL has conducted an extensive survey examining how innovation and various supply chain trends will impact property requirements in the near future. JLL is focused on realising the potential that properties (more specifically warehouses) can have in a supply chain. We are attempting to bridge the disconnect that exists between the two. By having reached out to supply chain executives through our survey, we are hoping to increase our ability to provide useful insight to various supply chain orientated businesses and also to landlords & developers.

For all intents and purposes, while real estate is a vital cog in a well-oiled supply chain, the two have always been separated by a similar, if not the same, language. Alas though, no need to hit the books as I had to do – we’ve done that for you. Through our research, we plan to deliver over the next 24 months further insight into potential disruptive innovations, global location strategies, and complications that arise in an urban logistics environment.

If you are interested in how future supply chains will impact real estate, have a look at our most recent report: The New Industrial (R)evolution

About the Author

Ryan Loftus Senior Research Analyst

Ryan is currently a Senior Analyst with JLL’s EMEA Research team specialising in Logistics & Industrial research. Forgoing his short-lived ambition to become an attorney, he joined the JLL Chicago office in 2012 with an emphasis on technology and data analytics for the office sector. In 2015, he made the move to his current role in the London office. His current responsibilities include monitoring and analysing market trends impacting the logistics market for both occupiers and investors, with a specific focus on supply-chain operations.

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