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The Importance of Technology in Real Estate - Q&A with Todd Walls

Technology plays a critical role in shaping real estate strategies, and with the investment pressures today’s retailers face, that need is greater than ever before. We recently spoke with Todd Walls, Buxton’s Chief Innovation Officer, regarding the importance of technology in real estate, how it has evolved over the last 20 years, and how SCOUT Touch is leading the way for future innovation.  

Q: From a retail perspective, why is it important to use technology in shaping your real estate strategy?

A: Retailers have to prioritize their investment opportunities and identify areas with the largest return on investment. Today, that need is greater than it’s ever been.  With limited resources, retailers can utilize technology to speed up the process and to ensure greater accuracy, reliability, and awareness of what’s going on in the market. The technology available today allows retailers to improve almost any decision they face.

Q: How has real estate technology changed over the last 20 years?

A: There has been tremendous change in technology over the last 20 years, even in the last 2 years. Things that would take weeks to process and understand when we first started the company 20 years ago, we can do today in seconds. We have access to almost unlimited data, and we have the tools at our disposal to manipulate that information to provide the answers retailers seek.

Additionally, people have learned through other technology platforms, such as the iPad, that they can get answers at their fingertips. No longer does an executive or even an analyst want to sit a computer poring over a tremendous amount of data, spreadsheets, and software packages when they need an answer. They want to just touch a button and get it now. That’s how technology has changed in the last 20 years.

Buxton is leading the way with our new Touch solution, which allows retailers to have answers at the touch of the button. One click and you can get the answer that you need. It’s actually a complex process to make things appear simple. There’s a lot of work involved, but the benefit is tremendous.

I showed our Touch buttons to a 6-year-old and he understood it instantly. He knew exactly what the buttons were for and what they do. It’s instantaneous. There’s no training involved, and that’s amazing.

Q: Describe SCOUT Touch.

A: SCOUT Touch is the culmination of 20 years of analysis, data, modeling, and experience all rolled into a single tablet-oriented solution that allows retailers to have access to answers at the touch of a button. They can understand site potential, cannibalization, and market potential without any training at all. The CEO can open SCOUT Touch, push a button, and get a sales forecast today. In the past, that CEO would have to ask somebody for an answer, and it would have to go through the process and eventually filter down to an analyst or real estate manager who might ask Buxton. The entire process might take a few days, but today, you can just push a button and get an answer. One touch. That’s pretty dynamic. That shows you the impact that technology has because you can make a decision while standing in front of a building, and have access to all of the information that supports that decision at the touch of a button through SCOUT Touch or SCOUT Pro. The SCOUT platform has millions of data elements and components; it’s literally unlimited what you can solve for in the SCOUT platform today.

Q: What is the benefit of using SCOUT Touch for a real estate department?

A: The main benefit is quick answers with one touch. SCOUT Touch offers ease of use, speed, and accuracy all rolled up into a single platform that you can carry with you in your pocket.

Q: How will SCOUT Touch change the retail real estate technology industry?

A: As far as I can tell there’s no one else who has distilled as much information into a series of touch buttons like Buxton has. Today, with Touch you can literally be anywhere in the world at any time of the day and get an answer. You can wake up in the middle of the night and get an answer to a question you have. We had a user call us from his vacation and tell us that he was using Touch even on vacation because it was so simple. He didn’t plan to work on vacation, but he couldn’t help himself because he could just reach over and get an answer. When it’s that simple and easy to use, it’s exciting to think of the possibilities.

Want to know more about SCOUT Touch and how you can utilize technology and analytics to answer your most pressing retail real estate questions? Don't be shy, reach out. We're here to help. 

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