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Topic: Tech Control

AIM 2023: Too Much Tech?

Too Much Tech? How to Effectively Co-Develop, Pilot, and Deploy Future Solutions Without Overwhelming Your Org and Losing Your Mind

Multifamily owners and operators want to adopt and innovate but are increasingly overwhelmed with the ever-growing number of solutions in the market.

Leaders are fatigued with inconsistent or haphazard pilot programs that yield inconclusive results, making it hard to know which technologies to adopt – let alone prioritize.

An alternative to the piloting process is co-developing.

Austin Lo, Founder and CEO at Peek, led a conversation on how that works with industry leaders, panelists Adrian De Smui, Managing Director of Customer Experience, Greystar, Jacob Kosior, VP of Centralized Services at Cardinal Management, Dustin Lacey, VP of Technology and Marketing at Mark Taylor, and Brianna Bocker, Director of Marketing at Cortland.

“There’s no way to pilot everything without losing your mind,” Lo said. “There are so many new technologies.”

One prominent industry conversation is centralized operations.

“We’re going all in on centralization,” Kosior said. “We rolled out three programs to try for 60 days. [We discovered that 60 was an arbitrary number, so we tried co-development].

“Centralization brings in so many new data points that the old model for pilots wouldn’t work for the new tech we wanted to consider. We’re smarter by trying new tech, but there was no way to compare the new tech to the old with the same old pilot approach.”

De Smui also felt pressure. He said the push and drive on the vendor and operations side to get something live is so strong.

“But when it’s not fully baked, we quickly see how impatient our onsite and operations teams can become,” he said. “When it’s new, you are living in a new world and you need more planning to get it right.”

That’s where co-developing comes in, as companies work together with their supplier partners to manage expectations and execution.

Ordinarily in the process, Lo said tech partners will get client requests to adjust the tool, “so as vendors, we have to decide if it’s worth it to do so for our product.”

He added, “As a partner, we can’t test what we’ve built. Co-development helped us find a launch partner to make sure we’re delivering on what we’re promising.”

Bocker said her company had way too many tech solutions going on and they weren’t all working together.

“So, we stepped back and decided what that vision should be,” she said. “We wanted to find agile partners, not necessarily the ‘perfect’ tool out of the box, but one we could work on.”

She said Cortland no longer uses the term, pilot.

“We call it tech consolidation,” she said. “You have to commit to working with your partner. It’s not like you get something, it fails, and you say, ‘Well, it failed.’ You have to work with them. “We co-developed with companies new to our space because they wanted to see how they could fit into our industry.”

Bocker said Cortland assigned staff as product leads to work with the staff and the partner. It helped Cortland to establish business goals such as determining, “This is the minimal viable product we’re interested in putting out there.”

Lacey found co-development to be a necessity.

“We couldn’t shrink to fit into the space we’d grown to be,” he said. “We needed to find a partner who could help us to meet our vision and help us get there.”

More Interesting Notes

  • Lo said not to confuse co-development with customized software.
  • Getting real-time feedback as the co-developers are working through the product is a good thing, De Smui said.
  • De Smui said, “Ask them not about whether their product works, but how they resolve issues when they arise.”

Here is the replay:

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