Reit Magazine - January/February 2021 - 29

HAVE YOU ADOPTED ANY
EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES?
SIMONETTE: We're just scratching the surface on what
we're doing with AI and machine learning. We've
been using AI in different places. We use it in our
contact center and to facilitate the sales process. We're
looking for every opportunity we can to leverage AI
to make us more efficient, but we don't want to just
introduce new pieces of technology where they don't
make sense. Whether it's automated marketing campaigns or understanding the trends of the customer's
life cycle, we're evaluating everything we can and
implementing AI where it makes sense.
STEIN: We've used AI for internal reporting. Based
upon our product type of open-air centers, there
is not as much use for the Internet of Things as the
enclosed malls. As COVID has shown, it is not
necessary to have the most cutting-edge technology,
but more important to be mobile, integrated, and
easy to use.
WHALEN: We have done a number of engagements
around AI and machine learning. It's all about data
and leveraging these new capabilities for greater
actionable insights into how you run your business
or serve your customers.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST
TECH-RELATED CHALLENGES AND
OPPORTUNITIES THAT LIE AHEAD FOR
THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY?
CROSS: We're very innovative in our thinking, and I'm
excited to think about the future. At the end of the
day, I think the storage industry is ripe for innovation,
and we're looking more at some of these disruptive
technologies that other industries are leveraging.
DEVULAPALLY: Some of the near-term challenges and
opportunities are about post-pandemic navigating
toward a new normal. The expectations of tenants,
especially on the commercial side, are going to shift
toward more expectation around consumer-like
interactions through technology. Data is a huge
opportunity going forward.
SIMONETTE: There are many emerging technologies.
The challenge is about finding the right fit and what
makes sense in terms of what you introduce into
your ecosystem.
With the pandemic, people have learned remote
work is an actual possibility, so our residents are
staying in our buildings 24 hours a day. Figuring out
what is the right design, how we activate a building in
the right way, what are the meaningful shared spaces,
how do people want to use them-what is it that
people want from our communities? That's going to
be the takeaway from COVID.

STEIN: For challenges, it goes back to how we continue
to provide the information that people need at their
fingertips in the form they prefer. With the expansive
amount of information, how do we make that actionable, whether that's through AI, standard reporting,
or another medium.
WHALEN: I'm excited about the opportunities around
sustainability and ESG reinforced by societal dynamics,
customer expectations, and regulatory drivers. What
that roadmap looks like for the coming decade will be a
continuing and exciting journey. We talk about carbon
neutrality and achieving that at some date in the future.
It's both an opportunity and a challenge.

MOVING THE NEEDLE
Leading REITs in the United States are using technology
as an " agent of change, " contradicting the notion that
the industry is not innovative, according to a new study
from Ferguson Partners' Global Innovation + Technology
Practice.
REITs surveyed for the study " have invested millions
in new paradigms to innovate for and connect with customers. " These REITs are embracing disruption, growing
markets, and hyper-specializing in strategies and sectors,
the new study says: " They are moving the needle forward,
innovating and integrating technology, data analytics, and
top talent to surpass their competitors. "
FINALLY, ARE THERE ANY OTHER TECH
ISSUES THAT YOU THINK WILL IMPACT
REITS IN THE COMING YEAR?
DEVULAPALLY: This past year really showcased just
how adaptable people can be. Through necessity,
it created a real openness and acceptance of doing
things differently. We can look at that and think
about how we can accelerate some of the adoption
of technology, where appropriate, in the industry.
Cyber threats continue to be top of mind. We have
to keep those in check and be aware.
SIMONETTE: How are we going to adjust for 5G? Are
our buildings ready? How will it change how our
customers interact with one another and with us?
5G is a big question mark. As data demands get
heavier, how do we make sure we provide buildings
that facilitate wireless service? No one has landlines,
they rely on Wi-Fi to have speedy internet. We're
always challenged by that.
Nareit: Real estate working for you |

29


https://www.reit.com/sites/default/files/2021-01/FP_Tech_Market_Study_REIT_FINAL.pdf https://www.reit.com/sites/default/files/2021-01/FP_Tech_Market_Study_REIT_FINAL.pdf

Reit Magazine - January/February 2021

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