Canadian RE Insight

By on Jun 24, 2021 in Technology

We continue our discussion of how to create a supportive technology culture in Canadian real estate organizations with industry leaders Sarah Segal, director of real estate for Informa Connect, and Michael Brooks, CEO of REALPAC.

Let’s start with Brooks, who itemizes what he considers the most necessary elements for promoting a tech-friendly culture: “I would say attitude, process and leadership,” he says. “Attitude means being receptive to continuous improvement. Process encompasses the search and selection of the best tech fit for the organization. And leadership refers to affirmation from top management that progress and technology adoption are complementary and self-reinforcing virtues.”

And what’s the best way to encourage receptiveness to new technology? For Segal, it’s fairly straightforward: “Don’t make it scary. Keep it simple and focused,” she says, because major changes to working processes take time and resources and have the potential to overwhelm. Once the team gets comfortable and realizes how the products benefit their work and the organization as a whole, “you can grow the offerings and technology stack.”

“Technology integration is a journey, not a single product,” Segal continues. “Incremental growth leads to higher returns and better adoption as opposed to big, sudden shifts in how a team works.” It’s a good idea to “anticipate concerns and opportunities that may arise and have solutions ready for them. This will lead to increased user acceptance and satisfaction.”

One of the biggest uncertainties surrounding real estate and the rest of the economy over the past year is, of course, COVID-19. Did the pandemic have an impact on tech adoption?  Segal and Brooks agree that the pandemic gave rise to a paradigm shift for many commercial tech companies.

In Informa Connect’s case, “what had been a 5-10 year plan became a 5-10 month plan,” Segal says, with the pressing need for technology enabling remote work bringing new tech tools such as video conferencing platforms and paperless banking from the fringe to the forefront. “The nice-to-haves became need-to-haves,” she recalls.

As Segal and Brooks attest, innovation involves behaviour, attitude and collaboration as much as breakthrough technology. They have demonstrated how long-term strategic thinking can guide smart investments. Look for more insight from them and other industry experts as the Canadian Trailblazers series continues throughout the year.