“There is nobody that cares more for a building than the people living in it”

The Grid: You presented on technology and property management at SMARTInvest Real Estate last month. What would you like to see happen in the industry most?

Fadi Nwilati: The RE industry and PM industry are far behind on technology platforms. We still do the same things we did ten years ago including processes. Yes we as an industry are using new platforms and software but they are related to document management (e.g. financial management like invoices, receipts, budgets).

This helps back office but there has been very little or virtually nothing done to improve tenant/landlord, resident property manager and resident security communication in a building.

Today when a resident needs something in a building he or she may reach out to the Property Manager. But there are so many others involved. So we look at platforms that improve communication between all the parties in a building from tenant to ultimate building owners. That is not to say lets all start WhatsApping. Let’s be able to communicate issues effectively.

The Grid: Why would that matter to an ultimate owner or investor in a property though?

Fadi Nwilati: It will boost decision making for PMs and building owners. You have an integrated system that updates in time and can give you a snap shot of what is happening in an instant.

Are my tenants satisfied? What is the likelihood of turnover? Is my property in demand and why? What are the demographics of my tenants?

Most landlords don’t know what percentage of their tenants are families, what the average age group is, or what tenants are interested in. Often they will host an event in their building and no one will show up because the event targets the wrong audience.

Quality data to understand tenants and bring back that human touch is needed.

Thirty years ago, before you rented your apartment, you would meet your future landlord over coffee. He knew you by name. Now there are too many intermediaries who can’t make the right decisions proactively because the right systems are not in place that link market intelligence with your building data.

For example, landlords tend to start reducing rental prices only after they have lost 20% occupancy. They don’t forecast the reduction and deal with it ahead of time. Advanced data and communication management would help with marketing, front-end decision-making, communication and most importantly improved ROIs.

Now imagine adding on AI so that you don’t have to analyze the data you collect. The system generates recommendations and you pick. This gives you a competitive edge.

The Grid: That sounds pretty achievable in the current environment given the technology wave. What after that?

Fadi Nwilati: The results would be even better if you combine hardware with software. What we have talked about so far are software platforms and applications. Introducing hardware into the equation means for instance replacing concierge or security personnel in buildings with robots or programmable turnstiles (that scan a unique pass code from a mobile phone to open).

The reason these are not utilized today much is because very few of them are linked to that kind of software that can generate unique one time only access codes for visitors.

The Grid: Why aren’t they linked to that kind of software?

Fadi Nwilati: There is a disconnect between manufacturers of turnstiles and actual users at the end of the day. The user is the PM but the manufacturer’s client is the contractor who built the building or the owner who purchased it. As a result, they focus too much on the hardware part. This is natural.

It is easy to link software to these systems but because the PM industry is far behind on technology very few have R&D teams to think about these solutions either.

The Grid: How long will it take for the industry to integrate hardware with software?

Fadi Nwilati: If it mirrors the time taken on the software side of things, it will take another decade at least before buildings talk to each other. I believe we are heading there though. We will see the day when an entire building has no human beings running it and its tenants and owners communicate with each other for the betterment of the building seamlessly.

There is nobody that cares more for a building than the people living in it, not the owners not the PM not the maintenance and not the cleaners. It’s the tenants and they have the least say at the moment as to how a building is managed. This will change. It has to change. People are no longer accepting some body else dictating how they should live.

This is an extract from an interview with Fadi Nwilati, Chief Executive Officer, KAIZEN Asset Management

KAIZEN Asset Management Services is an integrated asset and property services company, offering a range of specialist services for all property & investment needs. Kaizen’ team is dedicated to providing comprehensive technology driven property and asset management services throughout the asset life cycle. Kaizen is a corporate member of both MEFMA and the US Green Building council. Kaizen has also been certified to be fully compliant with ISO 9001:2008 standards since 2014. Kaizen’s major divisions include asset management, property management, development management, and owners association management. Under Fadi’s leadership, Kaizen has earned several awards, most recently Superbrands 2017, Gulf Real Estate Award for Best Employer and Best Company to Manage Exclusive Projects in 2016. Kaizen is renowned for its application of technological advances, its commitment to service excellence, implementation of sustainable strategies and human expertise within the property sector.

Interview by Tasneem Mayet, Research Director, The Grid Media Ltd

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