Monday, October 26, 2015

Got Any Data Scientists? Talent Crunch a Factor in Corporate Real Estate Outsourcing by guest blogger John Forrest

Demand for top-notch tech talent is hampering corporate real estate strategy—and it's likely to escalate

In today's tech talent wars, data scientists are target number one across many industries, and that includes corporate real estate (CRE). In the past, the CRE sector kept most of its data in simple desktop spreadsheets. Today’s CRE teams are quickly adopting sophisticated data and analytics technologies and platforms. However, with technology talent in increasingly short supply, in-house teams will need to look outside to reach the next level of adoption.

The trouble is, there simply aren't enough data scientists to go around. According to a study commissioned by JLL, in-house CRE teams will soon be competing with service providers and the wider marketplace for the same tech talent.

Why CRE outsourcing is joining the fray

At present, 60 percent of in-house CRE teams consider themselves fairly well-equipped for data-driven decision-making. Tomorrow, however, is a different matter, according to a new JLL report.
Already, only 29 percent of CRE executives give "strong" ratings to their team's capacity to collect and use data and analytics. With more than half looking to become data-centric in the next three years, the need for data scientists who understand corporate real estate is likely to spike sooner rather than later.

Small pool, major demand

A new RJ Metrics report released this month reveals that the number of data scientists has doubled over the last four years. In fact, hiring for data scientists has outpaced hiring for software engineers and data analysts by 50 percent.

The field is attractive for the next generation of employee, with starting pay for entry-level jobs reaching upwards of $200,000. However, the talent pool can't fill up fast enough.

Tactics in the battle for better data science

So, how can this gap be filled as demand rises? One creative approach, as described in a recent Accenture report, is to divide the data scientist's role among members of a team. While each individual team member may not have the skills to perform all data collection and interpretation, as a group they could potentially perform them all.

But for some companies, the answer is outsourcing. Some of the largest real estate service providers have invested significant resources in developing sophisticated platforms for CRE portfolio management and business intelligence, site selection, market intelligence, workplace strategy, smart building management and other functions, while successfully recruiting the talent to create and master these tools.

With this in mind, CRE service providers have an edge. The larger companies can afford to pursue and develop data and analytics talent. In contrast, in-house CRE teams must compete for technology talent not only with the service providers and CRE technology start-ups, but also with divisions of their own companies.

It’s not just global companies that can tap into the innovative data platforms that the largest service providers are creating themselves. Even mid-cap companies can access sophisticated business intelligence and analytics tools designed for CRE decision-making by partnering with a service provider. The talent is out there. The question is, what is the best way to tap it?
John Forrest, CEO Corporate Solutions Americas, JLL


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