RICHARDSON – As generative artificial intelligence tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT have entered public consciousness, the masses have gotten a glimpse into the technology’s potential to boost productivity and transform how people work.
Dallas-based commercial real estate giant CBRE Group is experimenting with the technology’s potential to boost efficiency and time savings throughout its entire business, from property management to lease administration and marketing.
Executives expect generative AI — AI capable of creating text, images and other content through deep learning — to make a big impact on their businesses. The technology is already being used throughout the industry, such as on real estate search platforms.
Almost two-thirds of U.S. executives believe generative AI will have a high or extremely high impact on their organization in the next three to five years, and 77% believe it will have a bigger impact on society than any other emerging technology, according to a survey from accounting and consulting firm KPMG LLP.
CBRE has been working with AI and machine learning technology for years. The company in August said its Smart FM property management AI tool is now being used in 1 billion square feet of client space across more than 20,000 sites to better keep track of maintenance requests and process building data.
“Across the entire lifecycle of real estate, we’ve said where can we see the impact of AI?” Sandeep Davé, chief digital and technology officer for CBRE Group, told The Dallas Morning News at its technology office in Richardson. He gave a look at a new playground of generative AI tools the company launched for its employees a few months ago.
Employees can ask a chatbot about office buildings around town and ask it to generate, for example, a paragraph of text about the building’s features that brokers can use as a first draft. It can also summarize or answer questions using information from lengthy documents, including those the company has accumulated from deals over the years.
“There are endless reports that come out, there are investment memos that come out, there are Q&As with clients that have been captured,” Davé said. “You upload the whole content and say, what are the five things? What are the five most important things that the client was concerned about in this conversation?”
CBRE has access to many of the same language models used by OpenAI and Google. Its new self-service AI tool delivers many of the same features as ChatGPT and other public tools – including text generation, image generation and translation – but within CBRE’s network, so employees are not inputting the company’s private data into public systems.
“It’s secure. It’s within our environment. Our data is protected. Client data, if we enter it, is protected,” Davé said. “That’s most important.”
Davé and CBRE’s technology team have experimented with virtual reality and creating digital replicas of buildings. Last year, the company created a virtual office space where employees can put on a headset and interact with each other using virtual avatars, and a similar deployment is now being tested in its London office.
“All our technology investments are guided in the same philosophy, which is that it has to be aligned with a strategy,” Davé said. “We need to see clear ROI, and there’ll be areas where we will experiment, because it’s important to experiment and just learn something new and see if it sticks or not.”