Opinion: The question isn't if artificial intelligence will replace property managers, but when


"I've been sent back in time to repair the service lift." (Source: Getty)

With consumer-based artificial intelligence (AI) applications, like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, robots are starting to feature in our everyday lives. From seemingly simple tasks like checking the weather, to ordering our groceries, AI has rapidly developed in sophistication in the past 36 months.

The day when Siri or Alexa will be able to contact British Gas to schedule a boiler check or arrange a cleaner to come round on Saturday morning will be upon us before you know it.

Soon, we will start to see AI spill over from consumer services into business services. Technology is already disrupting the way businesses interact with customers across all sectors. A recent study by Deloitte indicated 64 per cent of IT professionals say they will implement some form of AI in the next two years – a leading indicator pointing to what the near future holds for us. Business leaders not paying attention to this imminent wave may get left behind.

Luckily, the property management industry is better positioned than most to take advantage of these developments in communication and AI. Anyone who has had to log an issue with his or her property manager knows that the process is mundane, boring, and downright frustrating.

Read more: We've had Help to Buy, how about Help to Build?

Weaving AI into property management is an opportunity to transform a harrowing experience for the end customer. If you live in one of London’s slick new developments, for example, and a lift breaks down on the 23rd floor, you wouldn’t have to contact the property manager and keep chasing the issue up with them.

You could log the complaint instantly with an AI chatbot that would allow you to track its progress until the issue is resolved. It would save time and any guilt you may feel about chasing staff for updates.

Weaving AI into property management is an opportunity to transform a harrowing experience for the end customer.

Pi Labs, my venture capital platform, has just backed a company called AskPorter that’s already working on making this customer experience a reality. It offers an AI assistant that guides customers through making enquiries and reporting issues in residential buildings, with the option to revert to a human manager or approved service provider when necessary. But once this process is perfected, will there be a need for a human manager at all?

This idea may seem eerie to some and delightful to others, but smart, progressive property managers with a real passion for customer service will embrace AI, not shy away from it. In doing so, the industry stands to not only dramatically improve customer engagement, but also increase efficiency across all functions.