In The News
IBS’ Mike Mullin on Leveraging Today’s Vast Information Resources
TOTOWA, N.J., May 19, 2014 – “Big Data” quickly has emerged as a top business buzz term – and with good reason. Quite simply, there exists an incredible volume of collected information that organizations across industries can leverage to their advantage. In the following interview, Michael Mullin, president of Totowa-based Integrated Business Systems, which develops and supports high-quality property management and accounting software, talks about the progress and potential for big data mining in the commercial real estate sector.
Q.: Mining stored information for business intelligence is not a new idea. Why is the concept of big data different?
A.: We have seen an exponential growth of commercial real estate-related information being generated by third-party sources, including a new generation of firms focused on collecting and analyzing market data, and by unstructured sources, such as social media and tenant inquiry systems. Layering these facts and figures on top of a company’s enterprise or transactional records, and then digging deeper to reveal new trends and opportunities, distinguish the concept of big data. A 2012 McKinsey & Company study revealed big data and analytics as a priority for 65 percent of organizations polled. Of that 65 percent, half thought resulting findings would give them competitive advantage. One third intended to build new business or tap into new profit pools – in response to customers asking for something the organization did not previously realize its customers wanted.
Q.: Can you provide an example of the type of information that is being integrated with a real estate company’s enterprise data to create advantage?
A.: Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is an investor in Motionloft, a startup that is using sensor technology to provide real-time pedestrian and vehicle traffic statistics and analysis. A property owner looking to lease the ground-floor retail space of a building in Midtown Manhattan can mesh Motionloft traffic detail for that particular address with the wealth of property information already stored in its accounting system. This layered data can then be used to strategically match the space to appropriate tenants and to strengthen the associated marketing materials.
Q.: What kind of “unstructured” data might reveal business opportunity?
A.: Property owners and operators may spot opportunities by monitoring leasing trends in their own portfolios, and staying on top of “hot” topics in the news, social media outlets and online forums. For example, a current surge in the shared office space sector is making headlines, with a growing number of companies in this niche leasing large offices, dividing it into small units, and renting space to startups and sole proprietors with bundled-in phone, administrative and other services. By observation, landlords are recognizing the growing demand in this sector, and many are looking at their portfolio availabilities in a new light. Several household-name property owners are setting up their own shared office environments and working directly with companies seeking this type of accommodation.
Q.: How can companies better leverage their traditional enterprise system data?
A.: Real estate companies have vast amounts of data locked up in their enterprise systems, but frequently information is tied to a particular function. New analytical tools enable companies to expose, extract and integrate some of that previously “separated” detail. IBS is using Datawatch Corporation’s report mining tool, Datawatch Desktop™, to gather numbers off various system reports into a relational database that enables deeper analysis. Datawatch Server™ then enables the visualization and sharing of the results.
For example, we have a client who wanted a single-line cash position report by entity, including entity name, opening cash balance, checks written, deposits made, ending cash balance, current and over-30-day AP information, and current and over-30-day AR information. Of course, all of this information is already available in the system – but on nine different reports. The Datawatch products allow us to gather facts from each report, and re-model the output by entity with the ability to drill back down to the original source data. This is not only cool but provides quick ROI for today’s information-hungry property owners and operators.
The IBS system – developed over 35 years – today is used by more than 75 prominent New York/New Jersey area commercial and residential real estate owners and operators. The IBS software – written by real estate professionals – addresses virtually all property management, accounting and construction management tasks. The system is scalable and customizable for private and public enterprises of any size, from just a few IBS users to hundreds of operators. The IBS business model offers truly turnkey solutions, from data conversion, hardware, customized software and installation to extensive on/off-site training, consulting, service and support. Additionally, IBS’ Network Services division offers full consulting, design, installation and support services.