ULI Fall Conference Recap: Human Experience and CRE Innovation

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Our team has officially set up shop at the ULI Fall Conference in Boston this week. We sponsored a special little area on the first floor of the Boston Convention and Expo Center directly in front of a row of meeting rooms where some of the best educational sessions are taking place.


We transformed our 10×20 ft area into an Amenity Lounge – the type of space that we work with landlords to implement and enhance with software on a daily basis. In addition to offering comfortable seating for attendees to relax and work out of, we’re also handing out special goodies and treats all week that make conference life a little more fun (think breakfast sandwiches, delicious afternoon snacks, and a special wine tasting – come join us for vino from 4:30 – 6pm on Wednesday!).


We’re especially excited about having conversations around tenant experience, amenities, and technology with the more than 7,000 commercial real estate professionals attending this show from all over the world. Those conversations kicked off today and it’s clear that TeX software in real estate is a top priority to implement or discover. We’re also taking time to step away from our Amenity Lounge to attend sessions and educate ourselves on the top developments and trends in the industry.


But, before I get into two sessions from today, I want to share another exciting surprise from today: HqO’s name in bright lights in front of the BCEC in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood:


OK, without further ado – a quick recap on the two sessions we enjoyed today.


Human Experience and it’s Impact on the Future of Work and Commercial Real Estate

This session was headlined by JLL and it was one that I especially wanted to attend, not just because their session comes on the heels of our recent fundraise (humble brag), but because  the topic spoke to me and what we’re trying to achieve with our tenant experience software. The future of work is going to be entirely focused on the human experience and because of this, the focus in real estate will be less on the physical property and more on the value and experience that the occupiers extract from that space and its operating system. 



JLL has broken out the Future of Work model into five separate areas of focus alongside operational excellence, continuous innovation, etc., and look at three components of human experience (or HX) specifically: 

  • Engagement – What drives excitement and interaction at work
  • Empowerment – What builds trust and authority at work 
  • Fulfillment – What drives happiness and balance at work


JLL considers the technology, experiences, education, and approaches that will attract a new, tech-enabled workforce that spans generations, and therefor has a really strong position  when it comes to advising clients on talent recruitment and retention. 


Jonathan Geanakos, President of Americas Capital Markets for JLL, spoke a bit about JLL Spark, the $100M investment fund and how they are taking this new approach outside of their conventional territory to innovate in their space. Geanakos mentioned that prior to CRE tech growth and investments, “there were fundamental things in commercial real estate that we accepted as inefficient.” But now, CRE professionals are quickly realizing that “we’re gonna do it (innovate), or it’s gonna be done to us.” 


Innovation in the Hub and Our Friend Steve Weikal

We’re huge fans of Steve Weikal and the MIT Center for Real Estate, so there was no way we could miss this session on innovation in the Hub (Boston!) and how some of our friendly startup friends have built a business in this city.  



Two interesting topics that stood out to us: how the industry will shake out when it comes to the many point solutions for CRE converging into one major platform – when and how this will happen and how adoption will play out in the meantime, We agree that, similar to the marketing automation or adtech industries, a few big players will emerge, often merging products and functionality, to offer more comprehensive solutions that simplify installation and maintenance for owners and operators. 


Another really interesting trend that we’ll continue to see play out over the next 12-18 months is data – how it’s used, what it’s useful for, and who owns it. Data is the long game here for many CRE startups and it will be interesting to see how it evolves and becomes more intelligent over time. For HqO, it’s important for owners, operators and occupiers to understand that data is completely anonymized and is owned by the property owner. 


If you haven’t checked out the startups from that panel, you should: CrowdComfort, coUrbanize, Rifiniti, and LeasePilot


We’ll be back at ULI Fall tomorrow – make sure you join us for breakfast sandwiches in the morning starting at 8:30am, or swing by in the afternoon for a special wine tasting, starting at 4:30pm. 



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