Presented By: JPMorgan Chase
How Proptech Is Changing Property Management
The past year and a half following the upheaval resulting from COVID-19 upended many assumptions about the commercial real estate arena. In response, proptech innovation gained traction to help commercial real estate professionals and their customers. Partner Insights spoke with Jennifer Parker, Chief Revenue Officer and Managing Director, Commercial Real Estate Digital, for JPMorgan Chase about the industry’s progress.
Commercial Observer: Why has commercial real estate been traditionally slow to embrace new technology?
Jennifer Parker: Historically, commercial real estate hasn’t prioritized technology investments because they weren’t viewed as a key business driver. In actuality, technology can be a primary business driver, whether that’s done by marketing units via social media or implementing smart technology that provides easier access to amenities and other services that enhance the tenant experience. Commercial real estate has always been a relationship business where like-minded individuals come together to network and share experiences in the space. But for commercial real estate leaders to maintain their competitive advantage, they must look outside their traditional relationships to learn more about the new technology trends transforming the industry and the broader consumer experience.
What is driving this technology transformation in commercial real estate?
Consumer buying behaviors have changed significantly over the past 10 years. The pandemic further fueled consumers’ expectations that services can be done quickly, are easily accessible and are available 24/7. These changes in behaviors are prevalent across all industries, so it’s no surprise that tenants have different expectations than they had in years past. Although commercial real estate has been a laggard on this technological journey, many technology players are providing software solutions that make life and work more efficient for property managers, investors, developers and many others in the real estate ecosystem.
What are some of the more significant disruptions that have had a major impact on commercial real estate?
With movement restricted due to the pandemic, work in the industry shifted online, and many had to find new ways to exchange documents, tour properties, move money and collect rental payments. Software companies responded by supporting commercial real estate’s everyday tasks, and these solutions allowed business to continue. These solutions also created more operational efficiencies and provided better client experiences. Many of these solutions are here to stay and can help commercial real estate leaders remain competitive, delight their customer base and drive innovation forward.
How has proptech helped ease key property management tasks and responsibilities?
Proptech — which can include everything from apps and websites for real estate searches to hardware such as motion sensors, smart home computers, and drones for building inspections — is transforming the industry. Proptech solutions can significantly reduce the time and effort needed to perform simple tasks including rent collection via automation and booking meeting space online. Additionally, the more data collected on a customer, the easier it is to understand their needs. For example, an automated booking solution enabled to collect users’ data can provide information on users’ wants and needs, so leaders can offer more curated services and improve retention. By relying on technology to complete everyday tasks, there’s more time for strategic and creative endeavors.
What additional technological innovations do you think CRE will see in the coming years?
The primary roles of commercial broker, appraiser and others could change significantly over time. I believe we will see artificial intelligence play a prominent role in reducing operating expenses at the property and corporate level, and enabling focus to be redirected to other areas.
In addition, the pandemic accelerated trends already in play, such as working from home. As companies allow employees to continue to work virtually in some capacity, developers will need to ensure workplaces include aesthetically pleasing and highly functional spaces. This will drive the need for more advanced digital capabilities and adaptability throughout this space for recreational use during non-working hours.
Through these advancements, there will be an opportunity to better leverage data to grow businesses. We will likely see more technology that aggregates demographic trends and allows sophisticated investors to make decisions quickly with better line of sight on deals that fit their criteria.
Through the evolution of innovation in the commercial real estate space, what are the best approaches and methodologies to ensure that clients are at the center of everything being done? What can be implemented?
As innovation evolves, resident and tenant requirements will continue to change, which means commercial real estate leaders will need to identify ways to gain a deep understanding of residents’ desired experience through technology. Everything from technology connectivity to safety and security will be important to the customer. Software companies can provide a personalized customer experience and give commercial real estate leaders information to help meet customer expectations. One of the best approaches is to relentlessly pursue what customers want, then meet that need by providing easy-to-use, time-saving technologies. This can lead to strong new customer acquisition as well as strong retention through the years. Providing a strong user experience provides a substantial competitive advantage.