Out of the Trenches – Realcomm 2013

In my opinion, there is nothing so therapeutic as getting out from behind your desk and monitor, away from the teleconferences and planning meetings, and generally climbing “out of the trenches” to hone and refine acumen at Realcomm. The 2013 conference in Orlando earlier this month did not disappoint. I left there refreshed, energized, challenged, and excited about the things that are happening in our industry.

NASA Kennedy Space Center Tour – The visit to the NASA Kennedy Space Center the morning of pre-conference was a rare treat. I was glad to be included on the VIP tour and see things up close that I have only watched on television for years, such as the huge Vehicle Assembly Building and Space Shuttle launch pad. Thanks Jim, for putting that together, and OSCRE for lunch.
Interesting Conversations – An added benefit of the bus ride to the Space Center was having the opportunity to chat with John Gilbert, COO of Rudin Management, who, along with Kurt Padavano, COO, Advanced Realty, headed up the inaugural COO Summit. It was great to see up close and personal the ‘fractile’ portals generated by the building OS John and his team have developed. Powerful information for owners, managers, and tenants on everything from occupancy to energy to security, correlated and presented in a user-friendly dash board.
The Program – Of course the general session was inspiring and informative, as were the 70 other conference sessions. I liked the new format of certain sessions, which were overall more conversational and interactive than the traditional format. I heard lots of good feedback about the CIO Roundtable, IB Boot Camp and COO Summit; and of course the energy at IBcon continued to build again this year with so much true innovation happening in that arena. I am always pleasantly surprised by the extra and unexpected events that happen and I enjoy the impromptu conversations and interaction that the conference generates.
Social Networking – A shout out to Sandy Jacolow of Silverstein Properties and Justin Segal from Boxer Property on their social networking session at the CIO Roundtable. It’s amazing to see how far things have come from the same session four years ago in San Diego. Back then, people were speculating whether Facebook would ever have a role in CRE. Justin and Sandy are now delivering value to their properties by leveraging these tools.
The Class Reunion – One sentiment that I heard echoed by several colleagues was the sense of community many people felt this year. I think the support and friendship we get by just being together and sharing war stories is as beneficial as the exchange of ideas.
Relationships with the Business – We often talk about how CIOs and the technical faction in general can score more successes and play a more integral role in the business, and how to elevate the role of technology and of the CIO. The theme I heard at several sessions was about relationships. The individuals that were regularly meeting with the asset managers and accounting people, the ones that had placed their offices close to the business, the people who had taken the time to know the business and the ones running it – these were the people who were delivering game changing solutions. The relationships engendered understanding and empathy, the empathy created trust, and the trust became the foundation for collaboration between the business and technology. I heard this, stated in different ways, over and over again.
Best Practice Showcase – What a great idea! Bring together 35 of the “best of the best,” examples of smart buildings and portfolios from around the world and allowing the attendees to sit down and have a conversation with the lead executives responsible for the projects! I got 5 years worth of education in 2 hours.
COO Summit – Orchestrated by John Gilbert and Kurt Padavano, this group of COOs, CAOs and CFOs are some of the most tech savvy executive leaders anywhere in the world. I think every CIO should suggest their operations executives come next year.
Conference Live – This was the nexus of energy on the expo floor. Gerry Katzman, as MC, stimulated interesting discussions with over 50 significant industry leaders which were webcast live for those folks who could not to be there in person.
Team Realcomm – What antiperspirant do you use? They are literally running a three ring circus and never seem to break a sweat. I really appreciate the hospitality and helpfulness of the entire team.
Well, I’m really just getting started but am already out of space. These are just a few of my takeaways from this year and part of the reason I’ll be back next year. Thanks Jim, Howard, et al. for another great event!
Out of  the Trenches