Laing+Simmons has made a brave out-of-the-square executive appointment as it gears up for the new big data world of real estate.
Jeffery Gray has been appointed to the position of chief commercial officer to mine the “multitude” of opportunities ahead that digital transformation promises to bring to real estate.
Mr Gray joins Dexar Group, the parent company of Laing+Simmons, with a significantly atypical real estate CV, holding an MBA and having experience with a variety of firms including LexisNexis, Qantas and Hutchison Telecommunications.
Laing+Simmons managing director Leanne Pilkington lauded Mr Gray’s previous work in driving transformational change by recognising the power of big data and technology to understand best practice engagement with consumers.
She said that the real estate industry can’t “shy away” from the challenges and opportunities presented by new technology.
“We must innovate in a way that’s smart and bold, to embrace change and move with global trends,” the MD said.
“And as a franchisor, it’s our responsibility to ensure we bring our franchisees and partners on the journey with us. Jeffery’s appointment recognises this.”
Ms Pilkington said that the idea of harnessing data comes with limitless possibilities.
“Our objective is to create a platform — or ecosystem — that triggers into action as soon as someone touches the Laing+Simmons brand, regardless of how they do so.
“It will take some time to perfect and we’re not afraid to fail as we go along. But the journey — and opportunity — is too important to ignore.”
Mr Gray said that worldwide tech trends are shaping the future of the industry.
“Real estate is a services industry, so harnessing these global trends to improve the services we offer is a natural and necessary focus,” the appointee said.
“Investment focused on optimising the use of data is at record levels globally, and it’s no exaggeration to say there’s tens of billions of capital being targeted at the proptech and realtech industries.”
Mr Gray added that Laing+Simmons’ investment into the big data space will have a big impact on its agents and business owners.
“It will enable agents to understand more about consumers, down to a fine granular detail.
“It means they can personalise the consumer experience en masse and develop new, scalable service offerings and business models that deliver a frictionless service to their customers.
“The more we understand consumers and their needs, the better we’ll be able to predict what they want and need from us. Then we can create services around this insight.”
This will “flip” real estate from being a services to being a data industry, Mr Gray said.
“Today, when someone sees a property they’re interested in, they typically send an enquiry via email or make a phone call.
“But what if the moment the customer clicks on a link, a bot powered by complex algorithms is able to provide an immediate response, completely personalised to their situation?
“The system could then open the door for an agent to contact that customer at the very moment — and in the very manner — they want. Harnessing the power of data could unlock innovations like this, and countless others.”
Mr Gray said that modern consumers have come to expect immediacy.
“It’s incumbent on industries like ours to innovate to meet and exceed these expectations,” Mr Gray said.
“If someone makes an enquiry, they want a response straight away in the channel they choose. A phone call the next day is an opportunity lost.”