Office market specialist, Investa, is set to assume the mantle of Australia’s most innovative commercial property company on the back of a refreshed business strategy, a dedication to data mining and the successful launch of several market-leading initiatives – with more to come.

Long recognised for its leadership in sustainability and operational performance, Investa has been quietly building its broader innovation capability through targeted internal investment, strategic partnerships and an organisation-wide mandate to create value by doing things differently. 

This renewed focus is transforming building performance and the tenant experience across Investa’s $12 billion portfolio – unlocking value across multiple financial and non-financial measures.

As one of the commercial property sector’s most innovative businesses, Investa is now sharing the fruits of its labour and process for embedding a culture of innovation at all levels of the organisation.

Investa’s General Manager, Innovation & Strategic Projects, Joanna Marsh, said innovation had been elevated as a key strategic priority in the past two years, despite occupancy rates never being better.

“While this might appear counter-intuitive – with seemingly less incentive to innovate – now is the time. It takes years to build up a culture and capability for innovation, even in a company like Investa, where innovation has been a regular by-product of what we do,” said Marsh.

Data is set to be one of the most disruptive influences on the commercial property market, according to Marsh, citing a recent internal project to map and analyse 60 data sources, that is projected to reduce the time spent on preparing reports by 7% for the Real Estate Services team and up to 20% for the company as a whole by the end of the project, which can be re-directed to more strategic work by the teams. 
 

Shen Chiu, Joanna Marsh, Nathan Lyon, Investa
L to R: Shen Chiu, Joanna Marsh and Nathan Lyon of Investa

“We believe that access to data in all its forms will be a genuine game changer and major driver of new building technology and innovation across the office market,” she said.

Another data-driven innovation project focused on streamlining and automating more than ten facilities management systems, identified a range of process and system-related opportunities to improve efficiency, including reducing average work order processing times by up to 75% and reducing software costs by up to 30%, through amalgamation and process optimisations. 

Marsh said the ability to derive value-adding insights across the Investa portfolio also extended to its tenant base of more than 100,000 occupants. A recent deep-dive tenant research project identified a range of new ideas that would transform the way Investa provides service and space to its tenants, including ‘Fast Start Fit Out’ services that are being piloted in Sydney and a new, accelerated, online leasing process to be launched later in 2019. 

Marsh said central to Investa’s recent success has been its ability to build a deeply ingrained, ideas-driven culture supported by strong leadership. To date, 70% of the organisation has participated in its internal Innovation Accelerator program, which generated 100 new ideas and five new initiatives over a two month period.

To further embed an already empowered innovation culture, Investa recently launched its own Innovation Institute and Corporate Innovation Certificate, which more than 25% of staff have opted into. 

Investa’s Head of Building Technology, Nathan Lyon, said the next frontier for the business was to build on its strong foundations to push the boundaries of digital technology to dramatically improve buildings and in turn, people performance.

“We are continually looking at ways to harness both portfolio-wide and single-building office data to unearth opportunity for our tenants and stakeholders. Being able to draw on rich, cross-building analytics is allowing us to see what others can’t in the market, to transform our assets.”

Investa is already well-known in the industry for its property ‘firsts’ including Australia’s first commercial property green bonds and green loan , Australia’s first approved Science Based Net Zero by 2040 emissions target and the first WELL Core and Shell Pre-Certification at the Gold level by the International WELL Building Institute, for its Barrack Place development in Sydney.

Lyon said the focus is on leveraging innovations such as Digital Twins – which replicate the thousands of physical components of a building in digital form – to support more sophisticated building management, better customer service and ultimately a better occupant experience.  

Investa delivered Australia’s first commercial office digital twin to be used in the operational management of a building at its 567 Collins Street, Melbourne asset. Here the technology maps more than 57,000 building items in the asset register and takes feeds from 14,000 live data points. 

Investa’s Sixty Martin Place development, which will complete in September, leverages the firm’s structured approach to innovation, whilst harnessing a range of state-of-the-art building technologies. The Premium grade building incorporates smart access controlled doors, speed stiles, license plate recognition and lifts to make entering and exiting the building seamless. The provision of an integrated digital visitor management system and a room and locker booking system with the building security system, means visitors and tenants can access and book space quickly and easily via their own smart device.

Shen Chiu, Development Director at Investa who is leading the Sixty Martin Place team said: “Our innovation drive allows us to leverage transformative insights, smart thinking and cutting-edge building technology to deliver targeted commercial solutions that benefit stakeholders and shareholders.

It isn’t about innovation for innovation’s sake, rather we maintain a strict focus on developing and implementing the ideas that are tailored to our owner and tenant needs. Innovation must have purpose and unlock quantifiable value."

Lyon added: “What our approach means to the market are better returns, lower costs and more sustainable outcomes, and for our building occupants, a better workplace experience that evolves as our work styles change.”

[1] For Investa Office Fund (now delisted) and Investa Commercial Property Fund