Shopping Center Business

MAY 2017

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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BIG DATA 242 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2017 O ne shopping center owner has embraced the idea of using big data — amassing numbers from all parts of its organization — to know its customers better. Through informa- tion technology, Phillips Edison is better able to report its findings to its investors, and provide its associates with reference points that allow for more informed decision-making. Shopping Center Business recent- ly interviewed CEO Jeff Edison on the company's data initiative to see how this innovative owner is using new tools and reporting to create better knowledge throughout its organization. SCB : Give our readers an overview of how you, as the CEO of a large retail real estate owner, view technology? EDISON : We see the technology side of our business as having two pieces. One side of it is the accuracy and efficiency side — keeping track of our data as we grow. It has to have integrity and help you drive efficiency as we get bigger. We have been one of the largest buyers of shopping cen- ters over the past three or four years. As we've grown, it has put demands on our organization where technology can be helpful. The second side is to improve the interactivity among our multiple offices. These are tools like video conferencing and IP phone structure, etc. We have invested a lot in trying to connect our organization better. That really impacts the productivity of our associatesand our investments. We are also trying to harvest the reams of information that we develop to make better decisions. That is where most of the efforts in so-called big data fall in to our organization. SCB : Where are you using that data? EDISON : We are using it in two areas today. Primarily, we are using it in the acquisition process and in the leasing process. We use the history of transactions that we have to analyze what we are buying and leasing to. We are also looking at sales patterns to help us better merchandise our centers. Big data will provide assistance to our business as we grow. We really want to be able to use the information we have to make better decisions. SCB : How does Phillips Edison define big data? EDISON : Big data means different things to different people. At Phillips Edison, when we speak of big data we are referring to keeping track of historic information about our properties that will allow us to use that data, in volume, about merchan- dising and risk relating to specific proper- ties. As we buy centers, we can also look at the risk profile based on similar centers in the market and similar centers in simi- lar markets that we already own, or once owned. We have more than 340 centers now, but we have owned more than 700 centers at one point in time and have in- formation on all of those properties. SCB : How are you making this effort hap- pen across your organization? EDISON : We have two pilot programs go- ing on now. One is a venture with a local university to co-develop a way of looking at the data that we have. That's in its in- fancy. For this particular part of the deci- sion process, we will have to pull together more than 6,000 pieces of information to work on a single decision. We will also have to test it and see if our decision mak- Looking At Big Data Phillips Edison has a company-wide project to integrate big data into decision- making. The initiative is affecting all facets of its business, from leasing to acquisitions. Interview by Randall Shearin West Creek Commons in Coconut Creek, Florida, is one of more than 50 shopping centers that Phillips Edison owns in the state. The company is working on a project that allows it to look at data from similar markets for its centers to assist with leasing plans.

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