By Stephanie O'Neill

Should you build or buy your corporate real estate Business Intelligence solution?

It’s a reasonable question that every organization ponders when they’re ready to invest in a business intelligence (BI) solution for corporate real estate (CRE): “Should we build or buy what we need?”

To evaluate the true costs and impacts of both options, you have to consider what it will take to get the platform up and running. If you buy a BI solution, the investment is straightforward: upfront costs for licensing, potential subscription fees, staff training, and possible customization expenses. Your entire team can be up and running within a few days or weeks (instead of months or years). Total cost of ownership is typically much lower when you buy versus build.

If you build a custom BI solution, there are many direct and indirect costs to consider:

  • The number of people required to see the project through to completion
  • Additional tools or resources you may need, such as Tableau, Power BI, or Looker
  • The impact of redirecting internal development resources to a non-revenue-generating initiative
  • The amount of time—and money—it will take to complete the project from start to finish (several months to a year or longer)

By the time the platform is ready to roll out, you could have millions of dollars and thousands of hours sunk into development.

While the result may be a custom-built BI solution developed just for you, there will be drawbacks. Most notably, the custom solution probably wasn’t built by CRE experts who understand the nuances of the market. Even if the solution can provide information that helps you manage your properties, it lacks the market data and benchmarking insights you need for continual improvement. Without being able to compare your portfolio’s performance to others, how can you know what your data really tells you?

For example, if you capture information about lease costs, how do you know if your rate is higher than the market rate in certain locations—or when it’s time to renegotiate a better deal? The solution you build can offer insight into facilities management, but what data will you use to determine whether your vendors are performing well and delivering ROI?

Market-driven insights are necessary to make strategic decisions that lead to better results. Consider this analogy: Your doctor checks your cholesterol and tells you the results. Without having context—and an understanding of what appropriate cholesterol levels should be—you don’t know how to react or respond to the information you’re given. Is the number good? Is it bad? Do you need to do something to change it?

If the CRE BI platform you build is missing this key piece of the puzzle, you face the risk of project failure (many custom-built BI projects fail over time). You may discover that the solution doesn’t serve your needs or support informed decision-making—and people will stop using it.

Relying on the reports built into your operational CRE applications doesn’t cut it either.

You can purchase something like an integrated workplace management system, space-planning, or facilities management application, but these solutions focus on specific functional areas: work orders, energy management, spaces, capital projects, finance, etc. In these situations, you’ll also need data integration solutions and business intelligence overlays to make sense of the data. And most existing CRE applications are missing that critical component mentioned earlier: market data and benchmarking insights.

This is why you need a complete, purpose-built CRE data and insights platform that checks all the boxes:

  • Built by CRE experts and world-class technologists to proactively manage your entire portfolio and CRE operations through real-time insights
  • A holistic solution that covers all functional areas—from operations to lease events to occupancy insights
  • Includes built-in, current market data and benchmarking insights, so you understand what your numbers mean and how they compare to your peers
  • Provides all the information you need within one platform to make empowered strategic and operational decisions

Schedule a meeting to see how JLL Technologies can help you focus on business insights, not the logistics of data management.