CBRE and Digitalization, the Wave of the Future

Enrique Benavides, director of Innovation Retail & Asset Services from CBRE España, shares his thoughts on digital transformation and the commercial real estate industry after joining forces with Book A Corner. Facing the new context companies are facing worldwide, innovating and keeping up to date in terms of the digitalization of processes is a must. Let’s see what our new partner has to tell us about this from his experience!

Are companies prepared for a digital transformation?

Enrique Benavides: As always, it depends on the company. There are many companies that were already in a good situation prior to this pandemic. They had been investing in digitalizing their companies for a long time, so they will be in a great position. Now, those who did not do their homework before will have to start investing heavily. This situation pushed all of us to be more digital and into an omnichannel context.

Is CBRE incorporating digital processes and tools at a structural level?

Enrique Benavides: We have been working on digitizing basically everything that we do for our clients for at least five or six years now. With this in mind, we created the retail intelligence department three years ago. One of its main goals was to help shopping centers and retailers to digitize their assets.

“This situation pushed all of us to be more digital and into an omnichannel context”

Just as the members of the largest commercial real estate services company in the world believe, reinventing the company’s way of working is undoubtedly a crucial decision to make. In a world that is constantly evolving through technology and social media, it is important to notice that customers’ expectations evolve at the same pace and, thus, so do the different ways of satisfying them.

Why did you choose Book A Corner?

Enrique Benavides: We knew that we wanted to be more efficient and that there was still room for improvement and the way we did things. So we began speaking with all the countries: Italy, UK, Netherlands, finding out what our colleagues were doing and if they were using any software. And if so, we wanted to know what it was. With that information, we drafted a document basically saying what would be the ideal tool that we needed and we sent it to different companies in the market.

We looked at different options, such as building it ourselves, but we were lucky enough to find Book A Corner, as they were the perfect option for what we were doing. Working with them was fairly straightforward and very simple. Those companies that are not data driven have two options, either change the way to do things and start collecting data and making it useful or be left behind and disappear.

“Those companies that are not data driven have two options, either change the way to do things and start collecting data and making it useful or be left behind and disappear”

Over the years, the need for connecting more channels with stores has risen in order to improve the user experience in shopping centers. Benavides firmly believes that a company should not only improve the physical experience it offers in a shopping mall, but also the experience on its website, social media, apps and communication channels, taking into consideration the different consumer types, their expectations and the commercial mix that can be found in the shopping center.

How important are sustainability, social commitment and mobility?

Enrique Benavides: Well, we recently run a satisfaction survey in approximately 9 000 customers in 20 shopping centers, asking them how important they consider it is for companies to have sustainability programs. A 70 % of all the customers said that it was very important or important. Thus, it is not just something that we need to achieve because that is the trend. Rather, it is something that customers really appreciate and, from a moral and ethical point of view, it is really a must.

To sum up, the digital era invites us to think out of the box and reinvent our way of offering our products and services, providing us with tools that lead to the improvement of the customer’s experience and, at the same time, the satisfaction of their needs and expectations.

To learn more about how to adapt to the new digital era, the benefits of having a data-driven company and the real challenges posed by the context that the industry is facing, you can watch the whole interview in the video.

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