Lessons on technology adoption in laggard industries
This September, Megan Bowen, SVP of Growth & Operations of Managed by Q, will join a panel of industry-leading experts at Shadow Summit to discuss the future of technology adoption in commercial real estate. Megan has built her career with companies that use technology to transform their industries from the inside out. Currently, she leads all of growth and operations at Managed by Q, the workplace management platform. Managed by Q empowers office teams by providing task and vendor management tools, as well as access to a highly vetted marketplace of facilities service providers. Managed by Q was acquired by WeWork in April 2019.
You’ve built your career across several industries: education, healthcare, food, commercial real estate. How has that experience prepared you for your current role?
Each of the companies I’ve worked for were early innovators in their space and were focused on solving critical industry problems. At eChalk, I learned firsthand how engaging students with technology can greatly improve performance outcomes. At ZocDoc, I helped transform how patients find new doctors and book medical appointments, making it easier for anyone to access high-quality healthcare. And finally at Grubhub, the online food delivery platform, I quickly learned and led the team through the realization that our biggest competitor was the phone, not another online food delivery company.
In all of these cases, I was able to successfully navigate environments where the biggest competition was the old way of doing things. I worked tirelessly alongside colleagues at each company to leverage technology in order to create better outcomes for people.
One of the reasons I was excited to join Managed by Q was because it was clear to me that the real estate and workplace management industry will be disrupted over the next 5-10 years. It is an exciting time to be at companies like Managed by Q and WeWork who operate with an eye on innovation.
“The best of human potential happens at work.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about adopting technology in undisrupted industries?
One of the lessons I’ve learned is you can never really predict how things will shake out. In each of the industries I’ve been a part of, things have ultimately happened that I didn’t expect. My mind frame is such that I embrace the ambiguity of the unknown. I have learned that you can’t be rigid or too close-minded. If you are, you’re going to miss the right pivot or evolution. There are often countless pivots along the way, and that’s just part of the process. The trick I’ve picked up is to constantly remind myself that I don’t know everything. When you do this, you can stay flexible, adaptable, and eager to learn.
What market shifts do you anticipate in commercial real estate in the next 5 years?
Brokerage and lease administration have a lot of room for improvement and innovation. It’s interesting that at a lot of companies, the office manager is the individual responsible for owning and navigating this process. As an office manager at 21, I was negotiating leases without any prior knowledge or experience – which is crazy if you think about it. Because of the way the industry is, the power is often in the hands of the broker and not the customer. I think that technology will begin to transition that power over to the customer within the next several years.
Another shift is the fact that no one wants to sign long term leases anymore. Flexible and short term leases are going to become the norm, and long term leases will be the exception.
Lastly, I also feel confident that the role of the office manager will continue to evolve. Office managers are asked to manage the space and facility, as well as contribute to the employee experience and culture. I see a world where the office manager spends 90% of their time focused on culture and high impact work, while Managed by Q makes it easier and more efficient to manage the space.
“The biggest competition is the old way of doing things.”
Earlier this year, WeWork acquired Managed By Q. How do you envision the future of that partnership?
WeWork is a prime example of a company that has had the most success navigating commercial real estate and changing people’s expectations of the workplace. While WeWork owns the lease, design, and build out of spaces, Managed by Q has the technology and the services to operate that space moving forward.
I believe the best of human potential happens at work in many cases, and I believe that our partnership is creating the future of work. By ensuring that you’re creating an amazing, well managed, efficient and effective space, you make room for the amazing discoveries and miracles to happen — those are the outcomes we’re looking to drive.
What new tech or services are on the horizon for Managed by Q?
We are constantly building our product with our customer in mind, and are currently building tools that are critical to an office manager’s day to day workflow.
Most recently, we completed the integration of our task management tool, a successful outcome of our acquisition of Hivy in 2017. Up until this point, our primary value has been to provide our customers with access to an office services marketplace where they can find, manage, book, and pay for services all in one place. Now, workplace teams can use our tools to manage all employee requests and to-do lists and manage all the vendors they use to operate their space. Our software is evolving to provide a full offering of the tools needed to run a workspace, plus access to a vetted community of vendors.
Hear more from Megan Bowen at Shadow Summit 2019. Request your invite.