The Innovation Conversation is a series of Q&A sessions between the real estate technology industry's top leaders and MetaProp NYC Co-Founder and Managing Director Aaron Block. Topics include thoughts on the future of property and technology, corporate innovation activities and executive development in the real estate technology space.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities in your organization?
Driving strategic vision of technology and innovation. Managing all operations for client facing and internal technology. As part of the Executive Leadership Team, I have responsibility for all information technology and systems, processes and solutions including client-facing technology services. Focused on leading initiatives that improve productivity, increase agility, enhance shareholder value, and strengthen client services.
Describe how you became interested in PropTech and innovation.
I am CIO of a Real Estate firm! There is no other option than to be interested. And having been a part of disrupted banking and insurance industries, I know how fast things can change. When I first joined what was then DTZ, I started looking for people in the industry that got tech and quickly built relationships. People like Jordan Nof of Tuft Ventures and Aaron Block from MetaPropNYC. Plus, attending events like DisruptCRE have been incredible ways for me to meet innovative players. The more I see players coming up with new ideas, the more interested I become in PropTech.
In the next 10 years, what area of the real estate industry do you think will change the most dramatically?
Commercial Brokerage. It will fundamentally be a different service in 10 years. With increasing transparency and democratization of data, the business model will continue to evolve to focus on insight, analytics, and advisory services rather than traditional search and lease. Value add is critical and the industry must continue to evolve to drive better, quicker, decision making and portfolio optimization.
What is the most important innovation and technology-driven initiative in your organization today?
RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and machine learning. Both initiatives will change the way we manage several services and increase the value we can drive for clients. We also continue to look for ways we can use data to more efficiently manage our client portfolios and services. I continue to say that Big Data in itself is hype, but Information based analytics is the best of our business.
What role have mentors played in your success? How would you advise others to develop strong relationships with mentors?
Two mentors, both of whom started as bosses but became great friends, have helped me through almost every career move I have made. Their counsel is diverse in both style and content, often giving me very different perspectives to consider. Mentors are incredibly valuable and I hope I can pay it forward and add value to others.
What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t already know?
I’m fairly open and transparent so if there is something major people do not know, they have not been interested enough to look.