It’s no surprise that some industries are more likely than others to adopt new technology. Commercial real estate, which is traditionally a paper and pen-based business with an emphasis on personal relationships, has not been quick to innovate when new tech solutions are put on the market. How come, you ask?

Likely because most available tech solutions are not holistic. They are too acute. You may find one solution that helps search properties, another that helps with financial analysis and another that helps obtain electronic signatures on leasing documents. The multiple options can be overwhelming and confusing which negates the need for tech in the first place.

The Needs of Today

Thankfully, today we’re starting to see more holistic, smarter tools available that will simplify the lives of brokers, landlords and tenants. An increasing number of tech solutions offered today have been developed by industry professionals, rather than outsiders, that truly understand the pain points and how to best overcome them with a one stop shop solution.

The biggest pain point that agents need help addressing? Time. Agents are incredibly busy. They spend a lot of time answering common questions, negotiating prices and meeting with others. Second and closely related is efficiency. There is a flurry of texts, emails and phone calls when it comes to scheduling showings or negotiating leases. These processes need to be streamlined. CRE professionals need a holistic solution that addresses these two issues.

In a relationship driven industry like CRE, it is critical that any tech solution improves and complements the existing experience. The technology must be intuitive and deliver a positive and simplified experience for every user; broker, tenant, landlord, etc. The world has become accustomed to apps and the ability to simply tap a smartphone screen to accomplish tasks. There’s essentially no learning curve anymore. This means CRE needs to tackle top notch UI, compatibility across multiple devices and access to up to date data.

Chatbots, Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also help push along adoption in CRE. We are already seeing chatbots speed the process today. Prospective tenants have several questions that typically lead to several email chains with brokers, landlords, etc. Now chatbots can respond quickly with answers to simple questions, eliminating wasted time with emails. VR is also enabling tenants to preview properties from anywhere as if they are physically visiting the space. The realistic 3D tours offered by VR help tenants make decisions more quickly about properties they want to shortlist without spending time driving from place to place. Finally, AI will learn tenants’ preferences and be able to predict what they want, while helping landlords better price their properties and minimize the negotiation process.

Beyond the leasing process

What about after the decision has been made and it’s time for tenants to move into the space? The tenant has a lot to juggle: furniture, movers, contractors, architects, utility companies, etc. This is the year for the CRE industry to expect effective solutions that will enable brokers to save time, make money and operate differently.