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Comparing Apples and Oranges

How normalized foreign market data is improving real estate decisions

April 28, 2021 by Clare Coffey

It’s a truism that you can’t compare apples and oranges. But if you’re a business considering expansion into international markets, that’s exactly what you have to do.

Conner Wisdorf is a Principal at global real estate firm, T3 advisors. Focusing on life sciences and tech companies, T3 helps firms expand and transition into both domestic and international markets.

With offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Boston, and New York, they advise clients with as few as 500 employees, and as many as 50,000. Some clients need help deciding between markets at an extremely granular scale: which specific neighborhood in a given city is the best fit? Others are deciding between landmasses as vast as Asia and Europe. For these clients, T3 does a country by country comparison, then slowly whittles down options to selected cities within the target country.

Luckily, Emsi can help with all the above.

“When Emsi expanded into this global offering, we were really excited,” Wisdorf said.

Emsi has labor market information for a wide array of European and Asian countries. But raw information alone isn’t enough to help real estate clients make informed decisions about relocation and expansion. With international markets, differences in currencies, cost of living, and other factors can make meaningful comparison between countries, a classic apples and oranges problem. And cost of living and compensation questions are often precisely what firms considering a move need to know.

That’s why Emsi normalizes the data, showing relevant information from multiple different sources in the same terms—converting apples and oranges to apples and apples so clients don’t have to.

“It’s really about the comparability of data,” Wisdorf said. “The ability to look at Singapore, and Bangalore, and Tokyo, and London, in a way that’s easily intelligible, is huge.”

Emsi data also helps T3 go above and beyond baseline cost considerations, into the splits that define the labor market: skills, occupations, job hierarchies, and more.

For example, T3 recently had one client in the airline industry considering opening a parts repair facility in greater Asia-Pacific. For the client, it was a long term strategic move intended to coincide with the increase in flights projected to occur over the next ten to fifteen years. Both cost and talent were determinative considerations in finding the best place to locate the new facility: the mechanical engineering and skilled mechanical labor need highly specific skill sets.

“The information we had from Emsi was really targeted to what was needed both in terms of evaluating the labor pool, and in terms of cost.” Wisdorf said.

For another client, the issue was comparing the cost of their existing European offices with potential new markets into which the firm might expand. Because the roles in question involved another highly specific set of skills—this time around data engineering— they needed to first identify what locations could even supply their talent needs, then do a cost comparison with their current workforce. Global skills allowed them to define the roles they needed in terms of discrete skills, and then target a population where that talent could be found. Then, they pulled a wage comparison between current and potential future locations.

Emsi Global data is curated and packaged with the needs of businesses in mind, making these complex, multi-factor decisions much easier.

“Splits within the labor pool are really calculated in a meaningful way that aligns well with client needs,” Wisdorf said. “Some particular roles that are always in demand—sales, customer support, engineering—are captured well in the global tool.”

But no matter how easy it is to use, data is only as good as your confidence in it. If data isn’t valid, it’s meaningless. For Wisdorf, it’s not just the comparability of Emsi data that’s important, but it’s reliability.

“We feel very comfortable that data we’re presenting to clients has really been through a high level of scrutiny. We know that it’s trustworthy. It makes us stand out relative to our competition, so it makes Emsi stand out to us,” Wisdorf said.

That’s why, even though he’s found that Emsi Global tends to integrate well with other data sets when the need arises, Wisdorf is confident in using it on it’s own.

“In big global analysis projects, Emsi tends to be, not necessarily our only stop, but the majority of our stop when collecting data.” Wisdorf said.

For T3, Emsi Global means a win-win-win: for their firm, for their clients, and for the economic prosperity that successful growth and expansion enables.

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