Will Artificial Intelligence lead to mass industry disruption?

AI | Sanjaya Ranasinghe on May 22, 2017

“2017 is the year when the smartest agent in London isn’t a human” – a strong claim from co-founder of Hubble, Rohan Silva. The leading proptech company has integrated artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning into their platform that helps occupiers find the best space for their needs.

Self learning machines and other advancements in AI are now at a stage where they are being considered for commercial roll out in order to enable workers to work ‘smarter’.

However, while the property industry is using technology to work more intelligently, it also remains an industry which continues to thrive based on value of creating and nurturing personal relationships. As such while AI certainly will disrupt the property industry, bot to bot communications is not set to replace existing communications today as they cannot, yet, truly, communicate in the same way that humans can.

That being said, the use of proptech has grown exponentially in the last few years. We’ve highlighted three ways that the property industry is using AI technologies to innovate the way agents work:

Search smarter

Buyers, sellers and investors were previously very limited in their searches, with the focus often resolving solely around price and area.

But now AI is enabling searches to incorporate ever greater criteria and, as a result, we’re seeing agents providing more specific information when listing a property from the outset.

AI can be used to provide more personal searches without the need for the user to indicate a vast number of preferences. By using both big data analysis and machine learning, information from previous inquiries and property shortlists can all be used to build a personalised search for the agent, allowing them to navigate through huge swathes of data to find property matches which best suit occupier’s needs.

Robo-agent

AI and the future of work is often discussed in terms of robots or computers replacing jobs. And with research claiming that more than 10 million workers in the UK are at high risk of being replaced by within 15 years by automated services, it’s easy to understand why.

But how close are we to robo-agents? Many agents who are already deploying sophisticated solutions report that they are able to automise many monotonous tasks. Image categorisation, for instance, is one task that sophisticated AI-powered solutions can automise and thus free up agents’ time to concentrate on building client relationships and other tasks which cannot be completed by machine to machine communications.  

Chat-wot?

Facebook Messenger’s chatbot integration shot virtual assistants into the headlines and promised a new future of customer engagement. Research conducted by intelligent solutions provider, Nuance Communications, found that 89% of consumers want to engage in conversation with virtual assistants to quickly find information, instead of searching through web pages or a mobile app on their own.

Enfield Council, in London, has employed an AI-powered virtual assistant ‘Amelia’ to take over repetitive customer service requests  in order to help residents find information on and complete initial steps in applications for planning permission.

But it’s not only customer-facing roles that will be transformed by chatbots. The Cisco Spark (previously WorkLife) Slack bot sends users a daily digest every day with their upcoming meetings and what they need for it.

AI is changing the property industry to facilitate agents to ‘work smarter’ by minimising time spent on time-consuming tasks and enable better human to human communications. So while the ‘smartest’ agent in London maybe a machine in 2017, the most successful agent will be an individual who is enabled by advances in technology to deliver their expertise effectively.

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