Voices of Digital Transformation: Expert Insights Series

Amanda Steele, Group Executive Head of Property, ISPT

Our expert insights series is based on outreach conducted by MRI Software for its national research report for the commercial property sector – Voices of Digital Transformation Report.

About ISPT

ISPT specialises in responsible and sustainable real estate investment and partners with industry superannuation funds to create value for their members through a diverse portfolio of properties across Australia.

We spoke with Amanda Steele, ISPT’s Group Executive Head of Property, who gave us an insight into the company’s approach to digital and proptech implementation, and how it has embraced technology to enhance service delivery and forge better connections with its partners and customers.

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PropTech best practices for commercial real estate from now to 2028.

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Navigating business challenges

Amanda believes that real estate businesses share many common challenges in terms of their ability to adapt and innovate. “Looking around, it’s clear the challenges ISPT faces are the same as those many other property companies deal with, and that resonate across the industry,” she said.

Before implementing proptech solutions, we were confronted with common issues like an over-reliance on manual processes and inconsistent service delivery. The outcomes in some cases have been decreased productivity and poor customer and employee experiences.

– Amanda Steele, ISPT.

“The focus for us has always been on improving efficiency and removing friction,” she added. “And I’m delighted to say that we’re now getting beyond these early challenges to a point where we’re able to look at a range of data insights and their potential advantages for the business.”

“It’s important to point out that our journey is ongoing, and we’re guided by an incredible digital and technology team that works closely with our people.”

Implementing new solutions

The number one criteria we use in selecting a proptech solution is its ability to integrate with other systems. Whether it’s financial or management or the MRI system, we try to incorporate tools that allow everyone to access data and information easily and seamlessly. Data transparency and accessibility from multiple decision and delivery points is key here.

– Amanda Steele, ISPT.

According to Amanda, excellent support is the logical follow-on from ease of integration. “Ongoing support is really critical as well because user experience means alot to us. There’s nothing worse than having a new solution implemented and then having the support shut down after the change management process has run its course,” she said.

“Cost is the final criteria we look at because we’re generally aiming for efficiency and productivity gains. Once you’ve got those in place, you can generally see fairly quickly whether or not the cost makes sense.”

Managing change and measuring success

“Truly successful integrations happen, unsurprisingly, when internal collaboration is really strong,” Amanda said. “You might have an internal instigator with a knack for connecting people or a great contractor that recognises the multiple impact points within a business and is able to pull teams together really well.”

It all comes down to a cooperative mindset, where everyone grasps our shared goals and purpose, and the digital team leads the charge for those outcomes – perhaps even pushing us beyond our comfort zone. That’s where we’ve seen the technology element truly hum.

– Amanda Steele, ISPT.

“I love the ‘stage gate’ project management process because it allows you to test upfront whether you’re getting it right before you iterate,” she added. “And I think the most solid success indicators are the individually meaningful ones. Hours out of your day, week or month, the number of clicks. These are all excellent examples, and they show people the benefit of adopting something new.”

Dealing with data security

It has been one of ISPT’s highest priorities to protect its customers’ data and privacy throughout its proptech journey, according to Amanda.

“ISPT takes security very seriously,” she said. “Being Australian owned and with guardianship of a wide range of data, it’s naturally of critical importance to us.”

Data privacy and cybersecurity is the number one thing that we need to be confident of in terms of the systems we select and use. In fact, it’s the first check on whether or not it’s even a viable solution.

– Amanda Steele, ISPT.

As with many aspects of proptech implementation, success comes down to shared ownership and Amanda acknowledges the role the team at ISPT has played. “Our technology team has a great handle on what we expect in terms of data ownership, storage and cybersecurity.”

Lessons and best practices

Amanda is adamant that building partnerships both internally and externally is the cornerstone of success in any project. It’s a message she reinforces regularly at industry gatherings.

Technology teams can struggle to convey their insights to the business more broadly. Similarly, marketing teams may lack the depth of operational understanding to effectively make the case for new solutions. The alignment of these teams is paramount.

– Amanda Steele, ISPT.

“To get to this point, transparent internal communication and consistent messaging are crucial – like an internal pitch that remains constant throughout,” she said. “When you introduce a project, stick to that narrative, and make sure that everyone’s on the same page.”

In terms of external stakeholders in the business, “We often struggle with forming strong partnerships and tend to adopt a master/servant mentality,” she suggested. “Instead of recognising the value our contractors bring as partners, for example, we often treat them as mere executors of tasks. The key question should be, ‘How can we collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes?’”

My best advice is to wholeheartedly embrace technology. It might seem like a basic concept, but the key lies in really getting comfortable with it. A great way to do this is by spending time engaging directly with technology providers. Don’t just rely on hearing about others’ experiences with certain products on the market.

– Amanda Steele, ISPT.

She goes on to say, “By forging a personal connection with vendors and suppliers you can also quickly discern between the pretenders and those who can demonstrate a proven track record; who actually know how to deliver and can be a genuine partner to your business.”

Proptech trends to watch

Amanda believes that AI, particularly generative AI, will reshape the industry and transform the way we deliver services to our clients.

For our part, AI will allow us to focus on improving tasks like lease abstraction through technology, and to break down the barriers created by large legal documents and complex contracts that are not very user-friendly and have historically been very expensive to handle.

– Amanda Steele, ISPT.

“I think that technology, AI and the associated speed and efficiency of delivery can really improve our ability to personally connect with our tenant partners. And that’s the real sweet spot for us,” she concluded.

Download a copy of the Voices of Digital Transformation Report here and learn more about how Australian real estate businesses are embracing proptech best practices to help achieve strategic goals.

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