As technology continues to become ever more present through the commercial real estate world, it is important that organisations begin to lean more on innovations such as AR/VR, IoT, big data and AI to enhance the user experience, improve accuracies and achieve efficiencies. Investa's end-to-end model lends itself to implementing real estate technology throughout the business and it was earlier this month that Nathan Lyon, Head of Building Technology and Shen Chiu, Development Director, represented Investa at the Intelligent Buildings Conference (IBcon) in Las Vegas. Over the three days 2,000 leaders from over 20 countries gathered to explore the latest smart building trends, experiences, challenges and solutions in the commercial real estate industry.

This year, Investa attended IBcon to gain a better understanding of global benchmarks in order to help determine and shape our priorities, as well as identifying existing opportunities within the Australian commercial real estate market. Nathan Lyon shared some insight, new perspectives and outcomes from his experiences at IBcon.

Intelligent Buildings Conference
What are the top 3 key learnings and insights you took from the conference?

We can sometimes get caught up in the awe of technology but it’s important to take a step back and ensure that the underlying objective of implementing new innovative solutions is outcomes based. For example, not introducing virtual reality into assets just because it can be fun! It should be implemented  because it serves a purpose and aligns with our business goals.

The next key takeaway was shifting the mindset to look at data as an enabler and how data neutrality, structure and codification of information are crucial foundations. The importance of the structure of data is vital if we are to collect the most valuable insights – which will ultimately be offered by machine learning and computer-generated algorithms. Without structural integrity, these automated systems will not be able to perform at an optimal level, causing questionable results and therefore likely to render themselves as far less valuable than they could otherwise be.

Another key consideration is the changing demographics of our occupants and how technology impacts the end-user experience as their wants and needs evolve. Future proofing through technology and innovation is just one element of a much broader scope but can contribute to healthier and happier occupants, three examples of this include:

  • Seamless mobile connectivity will be a minimum expectation (i.e. no dead spots in lifts or areas of their tenancy)

  • Single interfaces between building/tenancy areas rather than having to carry multiple cards or even any cards at all

  • Customisable ways for occupants to interact with their Management Team i.e. app based rather than structured face to face meetings or phone calls

 What was the most interesting new tech or trend you clocked?

One of the key trends noted was around the idea of tying data analytics into measurable outcomes and examining the relationship between the two, with a commercial real estate lens on. The conversation has definitely moved on from the question of ‘if and how data should be collected’, to a discussion about how this can now be used to generate value.

This very broad question is of such interest that software giants such as Google and Microsoft have now created entire departments to weigh into this sector. Bearing this in mind, we need to maintain focus on what we believe will be of value in our specific environment and the commercial real estate sector that we work within.

Investa Intelligent Buildings Conference
From left to right: Tyson Soutter, Head of Asset Operations, Willow, Dale Brett, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Willow, Nathan Lyon, Head of Building Technology, Investa, Josh Ridley,  Co-Founder and CEO, Willow, Shen Chiu, Development Director, Investa, Daniel Kalnins, Global Head of Digital, Willow

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Investa is very supportive of being active in the ‘proptech’ space. By being part of networking events like IBcon, it allows the industry to grow and creates a space for those doing great things to be able to share their experiences for others to engage with, and offer new perspective. An example of Investa leading the way in the technology environment is the support of Willow in the global launch of their Digital Twin platform. This initiative was nominated for a Digie Award in the “Real Estate Technology Innovation” category which creates a digital environment in the physical world. Willow has been deployed at 567 Collins Street, Melbourne and is currently being implemented at Investa’s new developments; 151 Clarence Street, Sydney and 60 Martin Place, Sydney.

The ability to convert data into insights that demonstrably result in better tenant retention or a more productive workplace for tenants and their team members are the most valuable lines of query when considering the data.