In addition, it impedes organizations from providing a seamless user experience at a time when customer expectations are evolving very quickly. As one REIT executive said, “people have grown to expect that a solution will do everything immediately.”
The status quo provides proptech companies with a major opportunity to shorten the path to value creation for themselves and their investors. First, tenants’ needs have shifted and are no longer focused on the same space types or amenities. In addition, real estate companies are only beginning to adjust to the seismic shift taking place in the industry. At the same time, Danehy noted, “there’s probably a dozen different tenant engagement systems that offer the promise of being able to enhance the visitor experience and the employee experience,” but very few of them integrate seamlessly with a building owner’s current systems. As such, true customer-centricity will be essential for real estate companies to unlock long-term value, and proptech companies that provide this capability have the potential to grow rapidly.
Enhancing the customer experience
On this topic, Regan-Levine noted his company’s desire to “create the best possible environment for the best tenants” by being intentional about putting the tenant experience at the center of the REIT’s digital transformation. For example, a multinational technology company recently selected this public REIT to assist with developing the site for its second headquarters. By highlighting its strategy to enhance the site’s digital capabilities through its acquisition of a 5G provider, the REIT offered a key differentiator at a crucial time. According to Regan-Levine, this was “due in part to the company’s desire to attract cutting-edge tenants and to lay the foundation for a broader smart city.” This will allow enterprises to connect their people and systems in real time and transform customer engagement and experiences.
Facilitating wide-scale adoption of technology in real estate will require changemakers such as venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to collaborate with real estate owners, operators and developers to deploy fully integrated technology solutions that meet end users’ expectations. This is because new digital technology solutions require post-implementation support and ongoing product development to drive user satisfaction. Utilizing a customer-focused “hypercare support” approach toward building apps for tenants, smart apps for construction work, financial close management software and other leading solutions will drive better adoption rates by minimizing the issues and challenges that come with a new system.
Closing the technology talent gap and developing solutions across multiple sectors
Several of today’s real estate industry leaders have emerged from the tech world, bringing with them a desire to streamline processes and facilitate innovations in service and product delivery when consumer expectations are fundamentally changing. For example, Blueprint Power (whose CEO, Robyn Beavers, also joined our roundtable) is a New York-based real estate tech company that turns buildings into revenue-generating clean power plants. Asked how they brought this disruptive and innovative strategy to the real estate industry, Beavers responded, “I actually think real estate owners are the best partners because the buildings themselves are actually one of the most valuable pieces of the future energy grid. Another roundtable executive added that being able to generate electricity and shift to renewable energy sources allows building owners to not only reduce costs, but to also set forth sustainability targets for carbon neutrality as institutional investors don’t just expect an ESG focus; they demand it.
As competition for talent increases, prioritizing technology will become a key differentiator for real estate, which is the world’s most important and largest asset class. Several real estate market participants, including owners, operators and developers, venture capital firms and academia, have begun to work closely with tenants to implement research and development laboratories to accelerate innovation in the built environment.