Home of the REB Top 100 Agents

Frustrated CRE executives ready for AI revolution

By Orana Durney-Benson
08 February 2024 | 11 minute read
nikki steadman amanda steele lw bc8dk3

Senior professionals in commercial property are sick of being bogged down by manual processes, but do warn that rolling out a “flawed system” before it is ready could cause issues for clients.

A new national research report by MRI Software has suggested that C-suite and director-level CRE professionals are frustrated with the pace of change in their industry, with 47 per cent naming artificial intelligence (AI) as an urgent priority within the next five years.

“There is almost one in two industry professionals considering AI,” said Nikki Steadman, senior director for Asia Pacific professional services at MRI Software. “That fact suggests we’re about to hit a tipping point in my opinion.”

The report found that 76 per cent of CRE executives believe that automation is an urgent priority between now and 2028, while 46 per cent plan to prioritise Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and ESG initiatives such as “smart buildings.”

“Look at any industry that’s further down the road in digital transformation than real estate and they started with a few progressive thinkers and industry leaders,” Ms Steadman said.

“The progressive leaders profiled in our report are saying digital transformation is necessary, irreversible, challenging but exciting, with measurable return on investment.”

Paul Faulkner, head of business technology for Asia Pacific at JLL, has recently been at the forefront of the firm’s investment in AI-based platforms.

However, he acknowledged that new technologies can sometimes create unexpected roadblocks, and noted the importance of taking time to deliver results well.

“If we deliver a flawed system, it will cause so much stress for our clients and our staff, that it’s just not worth it,” said Mr Faulkner.

“I’d rather spend more time making sure the requirements are clear upfront, and that we do lots of validation.”

He also emphasised the importance of making sure that new technologies will create meaningful improvements for internal staff and for clients, rather than hopping on a short-lived trend.

“We try to make sure that we’re doing things for the right reasons,” said Mr Faulkner.

“Sometimes you might get a fad that sounds fantastic, and people want to throw money at it without understanding what their requirements are. But if you don’t do the hard work of proving its worth, you end up rolling out solutions that give you nothing but grief.”

For Mr Faulkner, one benefit of new technology is its ability to maximise business value by increasing efficiency, allowing JLL “to operate with fewer users than many organisations might need to achieve similar results”.

Amanda Steele, group executive head of property for ISPT, also underscored the role of AI in improving efficiency.

Ms Steele explained: “AI will allow us to focus on improving tasks like lease abstraction, and to break down barriers created by large legal documents and complex contracts that are not very user-friendly and have historically been very expensive to handle.”

“AI can really improve our ability to personally connect with our tenant partners,” she said. “And that’s the real sweet spot for us.”

Frustrated CRE executives ready for AI revolution
nikki steadman amanda steele lw bc8dk3
lawyersweekly logo

Never miss a beat with

Stay across what’s happening in the Australian commercial property market by signing up to receive industry-specific news and policy alerts, agency updates, and insights from reb.

Subscribe to reb Commercial:

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!

Comments powered by CComment

Do you have an industry update?