Investing in technology comes at a risk. Either the technology is too expensive and multifamily struggles to prove a sufficient ROI, or the technology isn’t future-proofed and becomes outdated quickly.
When the internet of things exploded onto the market a few years ago, manufacturers were web-enabling all sorts of devices, such as toasters and toothbrushes. Technological progress moves very quickly and some of it sticks while other innovations fail to catch on. It’s critical to select the right technologies to help manage your assets.
Ryan Byrd, Chief Technology Officer at Entrata, encourages multifamily operators to embrace that challenge.
“The pressure of choosing the right technology doesn’t always have to be negative,” he said. “Sometimes pressure can lead to outstanding results. The appeal of a product that will provide long-standing upgrades and features, and will continue to be compatible with future technologies, provides operators with a tech advantage that makes them more appealing to future renters and could incentivize resident loyalty.”
During the Futurecasting session at Apartmentalize 2019, panelists zeroed in on the three technologies that will be most impactful to multifamily in the next five years. Those are artificial intelligence, smart-home technologies and predictive maintenance.
With regard to artificial intelligence, the common misconception is that AI solutions will replace our valuable onsite teams. The truth is that AI will not only make the jobs of leasing teams easier, it will impact other departments as well.
Jeff Olshan at Passco Properties is working on leveraging AI to better understand prospects and cater marketing efforts accordingly. But the applications of AI go further than the leasing office. Members of the Business Intelligence teams at Passco are using AI to create predictive analytics. These data sets are empowering Passco to apply market indicators/prognostics to predict asset performance and ultimately tell them the best time to buy or sell an asset. Olshan cautions other operators before jumping on this type of technology.
“Your teams need to be skilled in order to effectively use this information,” Olshan said “A nail gun is more efficient than a hammer, but it’s also much more dangerous. The same is true for Business Intelligence modeling. It’s important not to follow the modeling blindly, and to push back on the information when it doesn’t seem right. Compare its analysis to the knowledge of your onsite staff to get a full picture of your market.”
Apartment operators often think about technologies and how it will make an impact on their leasing and operations teams, but the future impact of technology will extend to maintenance teams as well. Maintenance crews are the backbone of the industry. When considering to invest in new technologies, maintenance teams should not be overlooked, because they make a huge impact on the operations budgets of communities. Mark Zikra at CA Ventures is currently using AI technologies to build a schedule of predictive maintenance and allow for better communication between general contractors and owners.
“Right now we are building a web/cloud based tool that helps with the handoff of digital documentation between the general contractor and the owner,” Zikra said. We use these documents to build a schedule for preventative maintenance and routine replacements. As more devices become more smart or advanced, they will be able to report their status back to our software, and we can use this to automate work orders and take even more responsibility and inconvenience off of our residents.”
The future of technology won’t only impact the industry’s residents or leasing staff. Technology will transform the industry as a whole, and with that transformation will come a new level of operations and resident experience.