By Jack Stubbs
In an increasingly prevalent trend, many cloud-based platforms are seeking to redefine and revolutionize the commercial real estate industry. NavigatorCRE is a platform that synthesizes data and programs to allow industry professionals to achieve goals within the commercial real estate industry. We spoke with Russ Johnson, CEO and director at Navigator, about the platform, and how it seeks to contribute to an increasingly tech-oriented commercial real estate market.
Early in his career, Johnson recognized the need within the commercial real estate industry for the alignment and integration of big data, programs, tools and teams to create value for owners, advisors and vendors. He is now committed to making NavigatorCRE widely available through a robust and affordable SAAS offering, for the entire CRE community of industry professionals.
Can you tell us a bit about what NavigatorCRE does and how the platform began, when the company was founded, how it was conceptualized, and where things stand now? In a nutshell, what does NavigatorCRE provide for its users?
NavigatorCRE is a cloud based software platform that empowers commercial real estate (CRE) owners, brokers and occupants to make more effective and rapid decisions relating to commercial real estate properties and portfolios worldwide. The platform creates a private and secure responsive environment for companies and teams to centralize business intelligence for instant visual results. The client’s data is never sold or shared with anyone outside of the client’s team. This enables them to expand the functionality, efficiency and impact of their team and processes.
Can you expand upon some of the key features of the platform (i.e. synthesis of business intelligence with current CRE data, the ‘Portfolio in your pocket’ feature, etc.)?
As the platform has rolled out to institutional owners, developers, property managers and brokers, we have continued to expand the functionality. Specifically, the platform embedded the ability to interoperate with other great programs like Google Maps, Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, Docusign, etc., as well as automatically digest and combine data from multiple sources (public, internal-private and third-party licensed data). Navigator then embedded the ability instantly sift and animate the data to be reflected in powerful visual formats including flexible business intelligence dashboards. This gives an owner or broker the ability to see and understand any level of detail regarding any property anywhere in the world on any device. We call that: Your portfolio in your pocket.
There are lots of platforms attempting to do exactly the same thing as NavigatorCRE. Why should a potential client choose Navigator over another cloud-based program? In short, what makes Navigator stand out from the crowd?
NavigatorCRE does not aspire to rebuild or replace the functionality of other programs that are already being used by clients such as: mapping, electronic signature, CRM, data aggregation, analytics, demographics, BI dashboards, document storage and others. Navigator integrates and aligns the operational functionality of these programs to make them immediately accessible and contextualized to specific properties automatically. When companies have their own in-house system that offers some overlapping functionality, they discover that the fullness and elegance of Navigator exceeds what they are able to sustain internally; and secondly, their internal system is not useable for external clients and thereby does not offer the same team alignment opportunity with the larger CRE ecosystem.
Can you expand upon the specific day-to-day processes that the platform hopes to streamline?
Navigator instantly executes on day-to-day processes like digital market overviews, value analytics for sales comps and lease comps, instant business intelligence analytics for management, acquisition and disposition, instant visual access to property and portfolio documentation—all in a responsive mobile platform.
This allows brokers access to powerful CRE functionality in the field as well as in the boardroom. Users can execute these and other tasks without the need to log in and out of one system to access another. Users control the access and visibility of their data, while creating a unified source to collaborate with teams and corporate systems.
Where does Navigator predominantly function geographically, and who within the real estate industry are the platform’s primary users? How versatile and widely-applicable is the product?
NavigatorCRE is designed for a broad base of CRE users since it digests and animates any type of data in formats that are customized to be relevant for owners, brokers or occupants of any product type, anywhere in the world. NavigatorCRE is facilitating something that has been missing from the industry: a common data vernacular that makes it possible to instantly animate data from multiple sources.
As institutional clients continue to upload their property and comparable transaction data, the data vernacular for various product types and circumstance becomes increasingly aligned, making it far easier for internal and external teams to exchange data and blend efforts on a multi-market basis.
Navigator integrates with a variety of existing platforms, giving the product increased functionality. Is the platform replacing older organization tools such as spreadsheets, presentations and other software programs? To what degree does Navigator expand upon already existing templates, and to what degree is Navigator striving to set itself apart from other competition?
Each system has significant functionality, we are continuously expanding integrations with programs that help our clients make their CRE processes more efficient. NavigatorCRE animates traditional spreadsheets to create interactive market reports. This is motivated from years of producing spreadsheet and reproducing spreadsheets, creating presentations of static data that are only relevant for brief moments in a market. Our team evaluates various systems to increase the overall efficiency and functionality of the platform, if users have current templates this helps frame the customizations in NavigatorCRE.
What are the challenges in striking this balance, in an age where technological advancements necessitate constant redesigning of products? While it’s not always possible to reinvent the wheel, how does Navigator go one step further, in both design and practical application?
The built environment has similarities to the technical innovations constantly evolving in our industry. There will be updates to codes and systems for both. We believe in building a foundation that is reliable and customizable. Our clients access their platform from any device – we look forward to what new hardware inventions will be created and strategically developed to offer streamlined functionality across current and future devices.
The NavigatorCRE user experience is meant to be intuitive based on current processes, while offering constant advancements and integrations. We offer training sessions and an interactive help center from a real estate user perspective to help clients enhance their intellectual property.
One of the ever-present challenges is how to integrate technology while also allowing for the product to be intuitive to use. What are some of the obstacles in terms of adoption of this product for those not so familiar with CRE tech? Is it a steep learning curve?
The platform is built to be easily used by even non-technical people. The learning curve comes in the area that is challenging all companies today, no matter what platform they may choose. Specifically, as companies seek to become more data driven in their decision making, they are challenged by the tendency of people, teams and departments to hoard data or to collect it in static formats that do not integrate easily. NavigatorCRE streamlines the otherwise daunting cultural transition of collecting and blending data by providing a platform that represents a central repository.
Can you expand upon the software’s compatibility within the commercial versus residential real estate markets? Are there any sectors of the market that represent untapped potential?
NavigatorCRE’s ability to digest data of any sort and align program functionality on a single platform opens the door to serve many market segments outside the core CRE industry. However, it is Navigator’s commitment to sustain our focus on commercial real estate entities until it has provided significant opportunity and innovation in the CRE industry. At that point, Navigator may choose to invest in the development of other vertical opportunities. NavigatorCRE’s private real estate platform is useful for multi parcel development projects.
Aligning documentation, visual mapping and financial data are highly useful for keeping complex projects on course. Managing HOAs or other multi-owner real estate projects is a possible use case, however we are not planning to expand into a residential real estate platform currently.
Looking ahead, where does Navigator hope to go? Is the platform exploring relatively unexplored territory? What are some of the challenges in ensuring that Navigator stays ahead of the curve?
NavigatorCRE is a company dedicated to the business purposes of professionals in the commercial real estate sector. We hope to grow with them as an integral part of their success and to continue to evolve with them, in a highly competitive industry. The advancements in NavigatorCRE creates opportunities to unify processes and align successful teams. Seeing our clients adapt the platform and win new opportunities by utilizing NavigatorCRE technology is our team’s driving force. Our motivation is to continue to offer optimized technology to our users. Evaluating and integrating technology features for real estate processes is an instinctive skill for us, and collaborating with other CRE professionals to utilize NavigatorCRE for successful projects is part of our CRE- DNA.