Q&A with Abhinav Somani, CEO at LEVERTON: AI and Robotics in Real Estate
We sat down with Abhinav Somani, CEO at LEVERTON ahead of the ASDAIRE / Artificial Intelligence + Robotics + Real Estate conference on February 13th, 2019 to discuss the application of AI in real estate. Read on.
In recent years we have seen that AI became the catalyst for change in real estate investment strategies and augmenting many existing legacy processes. What do you see as the key benefits of the new automated way?
AI is being utilized to speed up processes and make them more efficient, while also focusing on the quality of the data. In real estate, often we are so worried about the transaction and getting things done, that we miss out on the opportunity to slow down and look at the minutia. This is where the real value can often lie in a world that is more and more competitive and the information is more readily available and perfect. But that’s not to forget, that the human touch is still vital – the AI does the grunt work and gets you the information you need, but the intelligent decision making still needs to be made by the team.
While moving away from a paper-based work has enabled real estate organizations worldwide to be more efficient do you still see any challenges with applying AI at a scale?
While we have moved away from physical paper, I think digital documentation is still very much pervasive. And whether that’s a scanned PDF or a digital contract on the blockchain, the contract is still the fundamental building block of transactions globally. The great part about AI is that, unlike a human, it is very scalable when given very specific tasks to accomplish. So the ability to extract certain terms out of thousands of contacts at a touch of a button is very much feasible today when it was not 10 years ago. This breadth of information allows you to make much more informed decisions and negotiate better terms in your contracts than ever before.
As real estate organizations are betting big on AI and other technologies connected with data analytics to maximize the capabilities of their data what is your advice for real estate companies on setting a successful long-term strategy?
There are a couple of key things that real estate organizations must do to have good long-term AI strategies
(1) You must have an open mind. This is where most real estate organizations get caught up. They are so used to doing things in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, that anytime a new methodology comes into view and doesn’t 1:1 replicate the old process, they immediately tend to dismiss it. AI isn’t perfect, but with time and attention, it can make things better. Keeping an open mind is key to that
(2) Pilot and Proof of Concept. Do not jump in headfirst without understanding all the nuance and ramifications that an AI technology can bring to your Company. More than technology issues (which often we find to meet the needs), we find there are more bureaucratic issues within organizations. Jobs, careers, power, money are more of the pervasive issues that stop AI from being implemented, than the technology itself. Pilots and POCs help to massage the message that this is beneficial to the Company in many ways and provides value
(3) AI needs nurturing just like a plant needs sunlight and water. This isn’t a Ronco grill where you just “set it and forget it”. AI needs data and refinement and the more cycles you go through with it, the better and better it gets. You need to give it some time and attention so that the organizations providing these services can help you the most with their capabilities.
4) AI is not a miracle or a magic trick. It’s a technology that scales faster than anything else we have ever seen. But it cannot solve all your problems with a click of a button. Have realistic views and understand human thought is still very much needed.
What do you see as some future trends in the real estate related to AI, RPA and/or Intelligent Process Automation that combines best-of-breed AI and RPA technology into one highly sophisticated solution?
Invoice reconciliation processes will become completely automated
Lease and real estate document extraction and contract analytics will get completely automated
Building security/entry/exit will become highly automated
Customer service for tenants will be run by AI bots
Payment processing will need to move to the next generation and checks will go away completely. This will increase cash flow and reduce negative net working capital, allowing investors to receive more distributions quicker.
Hear more from Abhinav Somani and other thought leaders about how AI transforms the valuation and analytics process for real estate investors at the ASDAIRE / Artificial Intelligence + Robotics + Real Estate conference on February 13th, 2019 at the Williamsburg Hotel, Brooklyn, NY.
10:10am – 10:45am
HOW IS AI TRANSFORMING THE VALUATION & ANALYTICS PROCESS FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTORS
Moderator: Erick Watson- VP of Product, Quantarium, LLC
Speakers: Marc Rutzen – CEO, Enodo, Abhinav Somani – CEO, LEVERTON, Sasha Bernier – SVP, Cheltenham Investments, Toby Moskovits – CEO, Heritage Equity Partners