The Shape of Things to Come

My official photograph belies the fact, but I am rapidly approaching a decade’s service as a property researcher, making now as good as any time for some contemplation of the future.

Corporate real estate has seen more change over the last decade than in the three preceding it. As businesses have become more global and diverse, the corporate real estate (CRE) function has steadily come of age and relevance.  It has become more centralised and intently focused on the sophisticated management of portfolios.  In doing so it has sought support by evolving outsourcing relationships with service providers. But where next for corporate occupiers and, moreover, what might this mean for the market?

In seeking some answers I was drawn to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report highlighting potential future changes in corporate structures. The report concluded that over the next decade corporates will:
– Become larger and more globalised
– Operate across more markets than they do today
– Expand rapidly but with stronger collaboration and information flows across borders
– Evolve localised decision making and management within a centralised framework and standards
– Be ever more dependent on contingent and outsourced workers

There are numerous implications for corporate real estate.  Most significant is the assertion that many more corporates will be seeking to outsource a diverse set of functions. This suggests that the current direction of traffic will be maintained but the speed of the journey will increase and the road will be more crowded. The challenge for service providers will be acting as a strategic partner for a greatly diversified set of stakeholders without the control that has to date been imposed via centralisation.  Relationship management at local, regional and global level will be key.  So too – critically for property researchers – will be the ability to supply consistent and appropriate market and portfolio data to stakeholders at each of these levels.

Challenges? Yes.
More grey hairs? Maybe.
An opportunity for occupier research to be front and centre? For sure.


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