There is absolutely a way for corporate occupiers to link real estate to business performance and success. And technology can be a key to creating that linkage.

That’s the central idea that Colliers International’s President, Occupier Services and Corporate Solutions Scott Nelson recently shared in an interview with ahead of a panel session at the CCIM Thrive conference next week.

Read a few of the highlights below and the full article on, and be sure to check back soon as Scott shares insights from the CCIM panel discussion on the state of commercial real estate brokerage and what it means for owners, users and brokers.

Technology and data are changing commercial real estate, and corporate real estate is no exception. Sort of. While the Fortune-500 class is no stranger to the benefits of these new solutions, the adoption of those perks has been slow on the property side. Partially, says Scott Nelson, president of occupier services and corporate solutions in the Americas for Colliers International, because the real estate department “buys” the technology but doesn’t commit to the change.

We caught up with Nelson, who will be a speaker at the upcoming CCIM Thrive conference in Atlanta, and he told us what the global corporate real estate landscape looks like from his perspective. What do most corporate occupiers—even among the Fortune 500—fail to realize about their real estate portfolios?

Nelson: I would point to three things, in no particular order. First, since it’s so challenging for their internal customers to predict space need, corporate real estate departments often don’t realize they can relatively easily, unsolicited, be proactive to provide their internal customers the tools, the scenario planning and the recommendations to move those decisions forward. Instead they have to wait for the answer from the internal customer, in a vacuum, and ultimately, it’s hard to plan the portfolio accordingly.

Next would be the power of data and metrics to add value to their business. This is the ability to link real estate and business performance metrics without having to “boiling the ocean.” It’s a potential opportunity, but they often don’t make it a top priority and instead they buy it and then move on as opposed to making a real commitment to the change. But if they did, they would uncover paybacks multiple times over, and they would elevate both the conversation with their internal customers and the profile of the CRE department.

Finally, they often miss the untapped opportunity in shared spaces, such as Regus or WeWork, not just for the short-term needs of three or four employees, but also for much larger space requirements and even a longer term requirement. This is generally viewed as the “executive suite” solution from 15 years ago, but those solutions have reinvented themselves and it is worth a fresh, unbiased look—it provides them the ultimate flexibility at minimal capital and it can really be a huge advantage. Especially for the first two items you mentioned, it seems that real estate—by chance, not by choice—is a reactive function. Why is this and how can that change?

Nelson: This is probably because real estate never had a seat at the decision-makers’ table. Now, that has changed a lot because of all the continued work real estate is doing to elevate their profile and value-add within the business. But with some of the things we’ve talked about, they just have to wait on the business and are not in a position to make recommendations as an advisor to the business. That’s probably the biggest challenge we’ve seen.

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