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BGIS Senior VP talks CRE and digital transformation

Presenter Lorri Rowlandson of BGIS sees “practical innovation” as the heart of the big changes affecting companies and workspaces.

As Senior Vice President of Innovation and Strategy at BGIS, as well as the company’s self-professed “resident mad scientist,” Rowlandson sees clearly how corporate real estate is helping to meet this pressing need for businesses through technology and design.

BGIS provides a variety of real estate and consulting services for businesses. Rowlandson says the company focusses on providing clients with a library of options when it comes to new technology, and offers consultation throughout the process of selecting and adopting innovative business solutions.

Tech, the war for talent and CRE
Rowlandson presented on one of those many innovative technologies at WorkTech. GoSpaces is, put simply, “fitbit for the office.” The app gamifies workplace goals such as sustainability and productivity, allowing employee accomplishments to be tracked and rewarded.

GoSpaces is a mobile app meant to help track employee goals and boost productivity.
GoSpaces is a mobile app meant to help track employee goals and boost productivity.
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Apps such as GoSpaces are the first wave of AI-based tools for the workplace that seek to improve the employee’s overall experience.

Adopting such tools, or even arguing for their relevance, is rarely straightforward. Rowlandson notes the need for expertise when approaching such sophisticated technology, and how CRE groups like BGIS can help — from articulating the business case, all the way to implementation.

“Our clients are not experts at the implementation, oversight and selection,” says Rowlandson. “Because we’re engineers, we actually have the skills that help clients with the business case.”

Digital transformation success
BGIS as a company is taking its own digital transformation seriously, and has established an internal innovation office that is developing strategies the whole organization can benefit from. Of course, as Rowlandson points out, this experience also benefits their clients.

Lorri Rowlandson - Senior Vice President  Innovation and Strategy  BGIS
Lorri Rowlandson – Senior Vice President, Innovation and Strategy, BGIS
Lorri Rowlandson/Linkedin
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“Our engagement is really helping our clients with our expertise: marrying technical expertise and engineering with the business case, and being familiar with the different solutions, helping our clients select and manage, and actually get the insight out of them.”

This last part is key for Rowlandson. While a shiny new piece of technology can be useful, the most important part of digital transformation for businesses is gathering insights and using them to create more value. Success is not some shiny new dashboard — it’s learning how to build and run a better business through insights.
“Success is actually implementing some type of insight that you actually learn from the analytics. A lot of people get technology narcissism, where they care about the dashboard but they don’t actually have the skills to interpret the data and do something different. We love that, we do that all day long.”
Who deals with it?
One of the biggest questions for businesses right now is who directs digital transformation. Rowlandson points out the need for a holistic approach.
READ MORE: WorkTech conference highlights advantages of changing workspaces
She says the importance of making sure that the head of real estate and the head of IT are working “hand in hand” helps to promote innovation.

“With a lot of cloud computing, information security, IT has their own pipeline of activities and then of course corporate real estate comes in from the outside. It gets at risk of being deprioritized.”

CRE can shape the innovation conversation, and help businesses avoid siloing when it comes to the complex process of digital transformation. ”To make sure that we’re not stalling and stifling innovation with the approval process and then becoming irrelevant,” says Rowlandson, “it’s important that they’re working together closely — closer than ever before.”

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