Monthly Archives: May 2012

Meet George Jetson! The Future of CRE

By Ken Ashley

May 7th 2012 (Atlanta)

As a kid, I remember watching the mesmerizing Jetsons cartoons in the mid to late 1970’s. The show was produced by Hanna-Barbera, and was the space age counterpart to one of my other favorites, the Flintstones. After launching their careers at MGM, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera opened their own studio. They went on to largely invent the TV cartoon show format and in the process won seven Oscars and eight Emmys. In my mind, The Jetson’s was one of their masterpieces; it certainly captured my attention.

In the show, the Jetsons family lived in the year 2062 – a 100 years in the future from the cartoon’s debut. They experienced a world of robotic contraptions, and whimsical inventions of every sort. Perhaps most interestingly, George works three hours a day, three days a week at Spacely Space Sprockets. Nine hours is a typical workweek for the time, but George complains about how hard he works and how hard life is at the time. I guess some things will never change.

Back in the 1970’s I was amazed by the many labor-saving devices that came from the amazing minds at Hanna Barbara.  Now, nearly 50 years after the show’s

Family Man of the Future

debut, I still sit in traffic wishing I had a flying car, but some of the ideas on the show have actually come to life. Robots are proliferating in our society and iPhones are super -powerful and omnipresent.

20/20 Vision – Jetson and CRE

At the recent CoreNet Global Summit in San Diego, the association began to reveal the results of a nearly year long study entitled Corporate Real Estate 2020. CoreNet said it had 280 top corporate real estate professionals on the committee who participated in 150 interviews in 6 languages. The study “balances the forces of tradition and transformation” in a way that would make our overworked George Jetson proud.

Here are seven of the nearly fifty “Bold Statements” from the report:

  • (Location Strategy) There will be a re-emergence of manufacturing in developed countries and regions such as the U.S. and Western Europe with smaller regional facilities, and South America and Africa will be the new hotspots for business process outsourcing (BPO) and manufacturing activity.
  • (Sustainability) Buildings, sometimes connected by micro grids, will be both consumers and producers of energy. Evolution in energy storage will impact building operations, transportation and planning.
  • (Partnering with Key Support Functions) Formation of a “Super Nucleus,” the combination of a corporate entity including components such as CRE, IT, Finance, Purchasing, Legal, etc., in a company-specific context. High- performance companies will know how to bring these functions together on a day-to-day and strategic basis. This function will not be “one-size-fits-all” and will vary depending on a company’s organizational structure, culture and industry sector.
  • (Workplace) CRE executives will evolve to “Experience Managers,” or plan administrators, offering employees an à-la-carte workplace experience with a menu of services, location and support.
  • (Technology Tools) Intuitive environmental sensing provides emotional intelligence cues leading to reduced stress and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of space use and communication in the workforce (using technology to sense temperature, lighting, sound and other measurables in a room or facility – and to gauge the emotional state of its occupants).
  • (Enterprise Leadership) Senior corporate real estate leaders will be able to measure the impact of workplace infrastructure on business units and the enterprise – a capability often referred to as the “Holy Grail” of the industry.
  • (Portfolio Optimization) Organizations will recognize the potential detrimental impact of cost cutting on productivity, changing the conversation from cost containment to value creation.

Tim Venable, Vice President of Knowledge and Research at CoreNet Global said the Bold Statements “present a vision that is both realistic and achievable by 2020.” “But even if some of the predictions aren’t fully realized by then,” he continued, “Corporate Real Estate 2020 will help prepare our industry and profession for the challenges that lie ahead.”

In many ways the industry is at a crossroads as we deal with an improving, but still uncertain global outlook, and property markets that are in recovery mode. What role will the workplace play in corporate America over the next 8 years? One thing is for certain, real estate can’t count on large cost reductions in the next several years – just the opposite.

Today, a corporate real estate executive needs to be a generalist in many areas but an expert in many core functions. In many respects, they need to be a mile wide and a mile deep. The coming war for talent is forcing corporate real estate

Oil change every 50 million miles whether you need it or not

executives to focus on supporting wide spread work forces with rapidly changing technology. Oh, and make that a green foot print while your at it.

In this space, we’ll keep an eye on those Bold Statements and report in more detail on some of the biggest of the bold assertions.

In the meantime, someone really needs to get cracking on those flying cars.