There is broad consensus that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation efforts across various sectors in real estate. Self-storage has been no exception. As Senior Vice President of Technology for Extra Space Storage (EXR), I'm responsible for developing and delivering technology products that touch over 2000 properties, 4000 employees, and one million customers. The self-storage industry is seeing record high occupancy. In that environment, technology has never been more critical. Our goal is to empower our customers to interact and transact with us in the way that is best for them. Whether hi-tech or hi-touch, their experience with us should be consistent and frictionless.
To be competitive in the digital age, you need to challenge old assumptions. Upgrading your organization's technology is not enough. You must upgrade and rethink your strategy at the same time. Many organizations that grew up in a pre-digital era have had to capitalize on new opportunities or risk disruption. Over the last decade, there has been explosive growth in new and disruptive technologies (mobile computing, cloud, big data, IoT, AI) that have changed how businesses operate and interact with their customers. I want to touch on a few of the most prevalent implications on real estate and Prop Tech.
Digital Customer Experiences
As consumers, our expectations for technology have evolved dramatically. We expect instantaneous browsing from a mobile device. When we have a question, we don't wait; we move on to someone who can help us. When we want to buy something, we want to buy it now. Our customers are no different. They expect a digital experience that allows them to find what they want, get their questions answered, and complete a transaction. A robust web presence is essential for most organizations. There are many web-driven experiences and applications to real estate such as virtual tours, payments, and online lease agreements. The digital experiences we deliver should delight our customers, not frustrate them.