Taming Your Busy Workload With Bots, A.I. & Big Data

Sponsored by Respage

Future Tech: Advances in Leasing and Operational Technology from Single Family Rentals

“Everyone here knows about virtual assistants,” said Ellen Thompson, the Founder of Respage & Results Repeat. “Whether it’s your Siri, your Alexa or your Google Assistant — it’s that thing where you often feel like you’re shouting at it.” They’re not without their kinks, or their quirks. Thompson noted the strange (and creepy) bug in Amazon Alexa that causes her to randomly laugh … unprompted.

Panelists at the opening session of AIM | 18 shared a rosy view of bots, automated marketing tools and computerized productivity helpers. Their use is on the rise, and the panel agreed that smart marketers would do well to embrace and adopt many of the exciting new technologies available, even if only on a trial basis.

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The discussion of virtual assistants ranged from the aforementioned digital options — Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant — to the human, offshore variety. And AIM attendees seemed both generally aware and positive about them.

Chelsea Proehl, Regional Marketing Manager at Matrix Residential, was particularly sanguine about Waze. The Google-owned GPS app is indeed an example of VA software, she pointed out. “If you advertise on Waze, it’s a great value,” Proehl said. “You can see between 55,000 to 250,000 daily impressions over the course of a month. Definitely something to consider.”

Thompson concluded that VA software and gadgetry can be “fun promotional items for multifamily” that’s “part of the smart home tech stack.” She also shared that she’s seen Amazon Echo speakers and Apple HomePods being used as giveaway items, or as demo units in models. Prospects and residents seem to respond well to the novelty of them.

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Proehl explained that chatbots are a great way to respond to the consumer expectation that a business be “always on.” The most basic versions can competently answer factual questions about floor plans, building policies, promotions, etc. They’re not foolproof, however; as Proehl notes, they can get “stumped” when they’re asked a question that they’re not programmed to answer. On the other hand, that scripted rigidity can be an asset because you won’t have to worry about them “going rogue,” using off-putting verbiage or misquoting facts to a prospective renter.

Anna Singleton, co-founder of Show My Property TV, next introduced the topic of virtual reality and augmented reality devices. In the world of multifamily, both can be excellent tools to help people visualize something that either doesn’t yet exist or that is too far away to visit in person. As an example: the hardware store Lowe’s offers an app that allows the user to scan a corner of a room and then drop images of fixtures and furniture into the image. “I’m someone who has to bring my furniture with me whenever I move,” Singleton said. “This short-circuits that.”

The panel also touched on big data analytics. Thompson was careful to delineate the category from small data. “Big data analytics is the analysis of extremely large data sets that computationally reveal patterns, trends and associations,” she said. “The cutoff is one terabyte.”

To illustrate the scope, Thompson noted that every hour, Walmart customer transactions provide the company with two and a half petabytes — that’s 2,500 terabytes — of data. And although the technology exists to collect, aggregate and assess such data, by and large, the multifamily industry isn’t taking advantage of it.

“As an industry, we’re behind,” Thompson said. “Especially when you compare us to fields like retail, sports and law enforcement.”

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