JLL brings real estate into the digital age

The real estate industry has, in the past, been slow to adapt to technological advancement. JLL is seeking to change that, embracing the Internet of Things to offer clients a truly digital experience

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JLL is digitalising real estate, bringing new practices and ways of doing business to a market that has not often been shaken up by new technology

A few years back, it was commonly accepted that consumer behaviour changed every decade, but the speed of change now sees technological shifts with every new product launch. If speed is the new intellectual property, how do large businesses keep pace in a crowded and evolving market?

For a data-driven industry, real estate has been notoriously slow to adopt new technologies compared with other sectors. I used to ask myself: “Are we mobile enough or are we digital enough?” Now I ask myself: “Do our mobile and digital tools address the emerging market and client needs, and are we innovating fast enough?”

At JLL, we work closely with our clients to create bespoke solutions to meet their business needs. It’s the forward-thinking approach to real estate: we’re moving our business online, transforming how we do business, and the industry, in ways that meet the demands of both existing and new clients.

Digital transformation
With the rising demand for enhanced digital access to information and instant access to services, our clients’ needs are rapidly evolving. The superior user experience offered by companies such as Google and Amazon has set the bar high. Our digital-first approach to integrating technologies such as telephone-lead tracking into our property listing tool, OnLine Markets, enables us to more effectively track both online and offline leads. Technologies that mimic offline processes, such as e-signature tool Adobe Sign, speed up traditional commercial approval processes. To enhance our existing data capabilities, we also successfully leverage common platforms such as Google to provide a unique end-user experience, covering search and maps.

The real estate industry is moving away from the more traditional method of changing its processes to fit existing technology

The pace of digital change has also transformed the relationship between IT and internal business stakeholders. Now technology enables enterprises to create new markets, products and services that engage clients in unique ways, its value has grown from a reactive break-fix service to one of business innovation. A paradigm shift has taken place, with corporate strategy, once developed in isolation from operational strategy, becoming increasingly interdependent on technology, procurement, marketing and HR. Digital, data and technology are now embedded in our culture, driving our ambition to be recognised as, in the words of our Global CEO Christian Ulbrich, “the best user of advanced technology and live data in real estate and beyond”.

The real estate industry is moving away from the more traditional method of changing its processes to fit existing technology, and instead creating tailored solutions to fit unique requirements. One of the key distinguishing characteristics of a high-performing technology service is a relationship-driven approach. The successful development of Inspection Tool, JLL’s unique mobile and web-based solution supporting quick, easy and streamlined inspection processes, can be attributed to this partnership approach. Encouraging project teams, strategic partners and technology experts to fully immerse themselves in the business process to build technology solutions that deliver high-quality results has been transformative.

Market shake-up
With the rapid evolution of consumer technology, easier access to insightful information and the increase in data freely available online, we are witnessing an age of digital disruption that is widely impacting our marketplace. While the real estate industry certainly isn’t the first to be impacted by digital disruptors, it has encouraged a faster response, with a key focus on the digitalisation and automation of more manual aspects of business, freeing up teams to focus on value creation and client service. Bringing innovation and opportunities, start-ups can support us in achieving this ambition, but equally have the potential to become disintermediation threats. Nimble niche players and innovative start-ups are as much a threat to our business as traditional competitors.

JLL recently signed a global cooperation agreement with Leverton, a leading global machine and deep learning technology start-up, embarking on a strategic partnership for automating and digitalising key administrative processes in lease management. The technology Leverton offers enables the identification, extraction and management of key terms and data from corporate documents, such as leases and contracts. JLL will be integrating these systems into its own global technology platforms to transform the way lease documents are reviewed, analysed and managed for its clients.

Data-driven decisions
To help clients gain the insight they need to make faster and more proactive decisions about their real estate portfolios, JLL has created a best-in-class analytics platform called RED that integrates clients’ real estate tools, providing line of sight across the portfolio.

We built RED with and for our clients. We wanted to offer the only industry platform that advances the science of real estate without requiring our clients to make major new technology investments or undertake lengthy enterprise resource planning implementations. This isn’t just a new piece of technology; fully integrated into our proposition and led by world-class experts, this has transformed the way we service our clients, helping them to drive real value from their real estate through the use of data and insights.

The RED platform improves productivity by automating report production, helping clients to manage their corporate real estate portfolios. All data points have been consolidated into a single version of truth that provides a comprehensive, multi-dimensional and actionable overview.  With powerful, interactive dashboards, companies can visualise their data to make smarter, faster, more strategically focused decisions with significant business impact. The open architecture platform allows diverse data sources including client business data and applications to be integrated.

Smart buildings
Arguably the most exciting technology trend for real estate right now is the Internet of Things. Our workspaces are becoming smarter, and by 2030 we predict the tactical and operational management of workplaces will largely be undertaken by algorithms analysing millions of datasets.

The Internet of Things will see data collected and exchanged by billions of everyday objects, dramatically changing how we live and work. In our offices, objects such as office chairs or lights with embedded smart sensors will detect conditions such as CO2 levels in a room and emit alerts or responses. This technology will support us in creating more sustainable buildings and improving space utilisation; an imperative if we are to meet the demands of a growing population, particularly within rapidly expanding global cities, and become more energy efficient.

Access to real-time insights through technology solutions, such as RED, and the development of smarter buildings using improved data collection will enable clients to be more agile, providing them with the information they need to respond quickly to the ever-changing real estate environment. Creating smarter buildings is intrinsically aligned to our business strategy of delivering market-leading products that enable our clients to realise efficiencies in their workspace utilisation and employee productivity. The rapid increase in office technology solutions, for example the use of occupancy sensors used to detect which desks and meeting rooms are in use and automatically reporting any change in availability back to a central system, will influence operational decisions as well as how we work and manage our workspaces. 

While collecting data is hugely important, understanding how to use it to best advantage can be transformational. With companies and industries impacted by the pace of technology at every turn, issues ranging across security effectiveness, data management and improving environmental sustainability remain high on the agenda. Like many other industries, technology has been a catalyst for the transformation of the real estate industry. Improved business innovation, investment and collaboration connect expertise and curiosity with exceptional results.