Following the launch of ChatGPT one year ago, more than a third of Asia real estate executives expect artificial intelligence to have a revolutionary impact on the industry, according to a report released this past week by Yardi, based on a Mingtiandi survey.
Having accumulated an estimated 100 million users in the two months following its launch last November, ChatGPT is estimated to be the fastest growing Internet application ever, with real estate leaders expecting major changes from the tech innovation, at the same time that they continue to struggle with managing internal data on leases, sales and other business metrics.
In the fourth in a series of surveys of tech adoption in Asia’s real estate sector by Mingtiandi and Yardi, artificial intelligence jumped in importance for respondents, compared to earlier polls, while the majority of those filling in the questionnaire reported challenges in adopting more elementary systems for managing information.
The findings in the report, which also compared the results of this year’s survey to earlier polls, were released to the public by Yardi regional director Bernie Devine and Mingtiandi’s Michael Cole at an event in Singapore this past week, where the findings were reviewed by a panel of experts from industrial real estate specialist ESR, online investment platform Investax, industrial developer and fund manager Emergent Capital Partners and law firm Goodwin.
Getting Ready for AI
In the survey, which received 116 responses, 34 percent of the respondents predicted that artificial intelligence will have a revolutionary impact on the real estate industry. In the 2021 survey, AI was seen by only 16 percent of respondents as being the technology likely to have the most significant impact on the industry within five years, ranking behind big data analytics and business process automation and just one percentage point ahead of the Internet of Things.
With regard to preparing for the data management tasks necessary to implement AI systems, however, property companies continue to struggle with adopting more digitally driven workflows. Of the respondents, 27 percent indicated that they were uncertain what their next step would be in adopting artificial intelligence while 24 percent said that their companies had not yet begun investigating the technology’s potential.
As steps on the path toward implementing artificial intelligence, the panellists appearing at the report launch event saw opportunities to take steps involving more basic systems.
The speakers on the panel, which was moderated by Yardi’s Devine and Mingtiandi’s Cole, included Alice Chen, co-founder and general counsel at Investax; Matthew Nortcliff, a partner with Goodwin’s private funds group; Zak Ungerman, a managing director with Emergent Capital Partners and Elizabeth Low, a senior analyst for customer solutions and partnerships with the logistics division of ESR.
Low noted that her company, which has grown rapidly through both organic expansion and acquisitions, has been helping to standardise its sales systems through adoption of a group-wide customer relationship management (CRM) system.
For Chen, whose company operates natively on the Internet, basic online systems are a must-have for businesses, whether in real estate or other industries.
User Resistance Remains
In parallel with earlier surveys, this year’s poll found obstinate teams to be the primary barrier to innovation at companies, with 42 percent of respondents indicating resistance among users as the biggest obstacle to adoption of new technologies. Mismatches between system functions and business needs were seen as the biggest hurdle by 25 percent of respondents, to rank second in the category.
With cyberattacks and ransomware incidents growing in frequency, some 26 percent of respondents said that their companies have experienced a cybersecurity incident or data breach, yet only 33 percent indicated that they have implemented robust cybersecurity controls.
Emergent Capital Partners’ Ungerman noted that for many companies, cybersecurity measures become a priority only retroactively with even major players sometimes caught scrambling to react after a system breach or hacker attack.
Polling Investment Professionals
For the July survey which formed the basis of the report, 30 percent of the responses came from Singapore, 25 percent from Hong Kong and professionals from mainland China, Australia and other locations in Southeast Asia contributed another 11 percent of responses from each location.
The majority of respondents were professional real estate investors with 46 percent indicating that their companies owned or managed industrial properties while another 43 percent were in the office sector and 34 percent owned or managed retail assets.
Residential was also well represented with 35 percent owning or managing assets in the sector, while 28 percent had hospitality properties and 20 percent were into data centres.
Copies of the survey report, Technology Transformation in Asian Real Estate, are available to download free of charge here.