Becoming Digital -- Why I Should Care About the Information Model

March 2019 | Insights From the CEO

We all know that real estate investing is a knowledge-intensive business. And information -- from lots of places, in lots of forms -- is what keeps knowledge fresh, vibrant, valuable.

With surprising frequency, we find that information is an under-managed asset in large real estate enterprises. Perhaps because it (information) seems to be everywhere. Maybe because we assume that "It should just work… It should just be right… It should just be available..." Or maybe the problem is the entanglement of 'information' with 'technology' -- "its IT's issue, not mine" -- that makes it seem like a picture of technologies in an enterprise must somehow also be a model of the information in an enterprise?

You almost certainly have explicit models for other assets that are vital to your business: a fund model for managing capital and for scenario planning; a model for managing people (org charts and position descriptions); a liquidity model for managing cash; probably even process models for describing how you execute repeatable tasks.

Yet it's quite possible that you don't have an explicit information model to help you manage this vital asset. The below image describes the components that should encompass your information model.

information model.png

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do we have a list of all the information topics that we need to gather and use -- to see patterns, spot trends and make better decisions? Or do we assume that everybody just knows what they need to know?

  2. If there is a list like that somewhere, does everyone know what and where it is?

  3. If there is and everyone does, is that list also used to identify where that information comes from, where it is held, how it is processed, accessed and used?

Don't be disheartened if the answers for your enterprise are... No! You have a lot of company. But leading real estate firms are now beginning to change that. They are treating 'information' with a care and attention equal to the other vital resources of the enterprise.

Articulating an information model that answers the above questions is an essential first step in achieving better information, better knowledge, better decisions.

Authored by: Chris Shaida, Founder and Enterprise Managing Consultant, RealFoundations

About the Author Chris Shaida is an Enterprise Managing Consultant and founder of RealFoundations. Mr. Shaida founded RealFoundations to provide a place where like-minded professionals are able focus their deep industry and solution knowledge and passion to help improve the operations of our real estate industry and corporate real estate clients.

About RealFoundations RealFoundations is a professional services firm focused on the real estate industry. With offices on four continents, 400+ client-serving professionals and off-shore delivery capabilities in India, RealFoundations provides Management Consulting, Managed Services and Energy Solutions to developers, builders, owners/operators, service providers, institutional investors and corporate occupiers. From the building itself to the way it is used, operated and financed, no firm understands the inner workings of the entire real estate ecosystem as well as RealFoundations.

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