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PropTech lessons from Cushman & Wakefield's AI strategy
A recent article from CIO Magazine provides an excellent overview of the AI strategy of a large real estate organization. Cushman & Wakefield’s Chief Digital Information Officer Salumeh Companieh gave a few examples of where AI is making the biggest impact across the organization. In addition to being an interesting read for PropTech observers, Cushman’s strategy is useful inspiration for smaller organizations looking to level up their tech game.
1. Tools such as Jasper AI and others help the research team produce a large volume of reports and insights. Companieh says this resulted in around a 30% report production increase, as well as less time sunk into task management
2. Large Language Models (LLMs) to help advisors extract insights from data, and pass this specialized information onto clients
3. Specialized applications for different teams to sift through and deploy information from the company database, such as information on properties, clients, and transactions
Each of these use cases clearly focuses on the theme of taking data that’s already been gathered, and getting it into the hands of employees. Data is only as good as its operationalization, and for a big firm like Cushman & Wakefield with many thousands of employees all collecting information and a plethora of high-quality data sources, the opportunity here is huge.
AI tools, of course, can identify relevant pieces of data, trends, and connections between different points that might take human teams entire projects to complete. This means that everyone throughout the organization from the most tenured vice chairman to the freshest assistant property manager, potentially, is democratized to uncover valuable insights that could drive improvement to the bottom line.
How are they doing it?
Cushman & Wakefield took a few important steps when building their AI strategy.
An emphasis on tech partnerships
Businesses shouldn’t waste time on activities they aren’t great at. Cushman & Wakefield built partnerships with MIT, Microsoft, and PwC, allowing the deep tech skills of these organizations to supplement their own real estate competencies.
Alignment with a strong cloud partner
Cushman & Wakefield works with Microsoft Azure, but there are a range of solutions out there for organizations of various sizes. This article provides a good prime on some of the best cloud partners out there.
Emphasis on user personas
Finally, Cushman & Wakefield put a strategic focus on specific user personas within their organization and used these personas to guide the development of specific tools. Specific focus personas for Cushman include brokerage, marketing, and client services groups across the organization. With these groups targeted, technology practitioners with visibility into data and resources across the entire company can make informed decisions when it comes to building out or acquiring new AI tools.
There are several implications here for smaller real estate businesses looking to introduce tech solutions. First, note that Cushman & Wakefield isn’t deploying AI just for the sake of it. Instead, the company is looking for specific problem areas where AI may be able to drive great outcomes. In other words, they are solving existing problems, not starting with the tech and looking for a problem.
Second, their AI solutions focus on connecting the dots between information and making data—gained from a wide range of sources—deployable across the organization. This implies that a structured, organized, company-wide data warehouse is required. Cushman isn’t starting from the ground floor every time they build out a new app; they utilize their wealth of data to make specific applications easier to build.
Finally, Cushman & Wakefield is partnering with outside experts when necessary. Instead of trying to build their own best-in-class tech function, partnerships with academia and major tech companies allow the real estate company to focus on the real estate implementations of their technology and not rebuilding the tech wheel.