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File photo of a development in the U.K.Jason Alden/Bloomberg

A Canadian information technology firm estimates that nearly one-third of the world's commercial real estate industry is using archaic and error-prone spreadsheets to manage property portfolios potentially worth $11-trillion.

Altus Group came up with its figures after surveying more than 300 international executives in the commercial real estate industry to come up with its findings.

Its study also suggests that commercial real estate industry is under-investing in -information technology relative to other industries such as financial services and health-care, choosing instead to pile more money into the assets themselves.

Altus Group CEO Bob Courteau says the lack of IT infrastructure investment means the industry is missing out on valuable insights that could be gleaned through data analysis.

Courteau says such analysis can't be performed because much of the information exists in "data silos" – meaning data that is gathered by various departments is stored in different formats, making it difficult if not impossible to aggregate.

The Altus Group research could have important implications for Canadian companies, which are big players in the global commercial real estate industry, according to Courteau.

"Real estate has become an institutional business," Courteau said.

"It's seen as the fourth asset class. What that means is that the large Canadian pension funds are disproportionately invested in real estate, and as soon as you do that you have to move to a global market."

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