Innovation, Data, and Digital Twins.
Lauren Alpeyrie is a Director on the Global Innovation team at PGIM Real Estate. A member of FuturePlace’s Global Innovation Board and previously at tech companies like Google and Hubspot, innovation through technology is a passion of hers. We chatted with Lauren about her observations in the commercial real estate space.
FuturePlace: Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us about your journey to real estate innovation?
Lauren Alpeyrie: Sure. My background has always been in tech. Prior to PGIM Real Estate, I worked at a management consulting firm called L.E.K. Consulting, where I concentrated on digital transformation and, of course, real estate. This was how I came to learn about all of the technology and innovation in the real estate space and became really excited about what lies ahead for the industry.
FP: What brought you to New York?
LA: When I was on the West Coast looking for my next opportunity, I looked for positions at the intersection of real estate and technology. I connected with Sara Shank, who is the Global Head of Innovation at PGIM Real Estate. She was growing her team and the timing was really fortuitous and I joined last November. My responsibilities span a few key areas of focus for PGIM Real Estate’s global platform. First, our partnerships and relationships with different companies in technology and PropTech. I’m always meeting new startups and working with different teams at PGIM Real Estate to help them prioritize their needs and hone use cases for new technology and innovation. As part of that, our team assists with a lot of pilots and implementations.
There are very few areas in PropTech that don’t affect us as investors, lenders, and operators of real estate – and this means there’s always new opportunities to explore. Another area of focus is very much related, and it entails working with our many partners across venture capital and the industry. These partners are critical to the work we’re doing to find innovative new companies, strategies, and approaches for innovation.
I’m also involved with our data strategy, including a project to build a data lake to better harness our data led by a team overseen by Sara Shank. There isn’t a company in real estate technology that we are working with where data creation and analysis isn’t becoming a critical part of their offering – and for PGIM Real Estate, with our 50+ year investment heritage and a more than 100+ year lending history, we think enhancing the way we put our data to work can translate to a significant competitive advantage.
FP: You’ve recently joined FuturePlace’s Global Leadership Board. What is that like?
LA: FuturePlace uses this group as a sounding board to understand what is important to PGIM Real Estate, other companies on the board, and others in our industry, what challenges we are facing and what opportunities are at hand. They use this information to create programs that will resonate with what people are facing in real estate today and how technology and innovation can help. I’m looking forward to discussing those topics with everyone at the first meeting I am attending in October.
FP: How does connecting with innovative companies help you?
LA: PGIM Real Estate is always looking for innovative new companies to enhance the operation of our assets, create tenant satisfaction, improve our investment processes, and meet our ESG goals. We are always happy to share what we’re doing and how we’re working with various groups in our industry. We also want what we are doing to be a two-way road and part of a broader conversation. PropTech is such a new industry and we all benefit from helping these young companies succeed. Especially when it comes to solutions like climate change, it benefits us all to help these companies grow and help us meet our goals sooner rather than later.
FP: You have your hands in all different areas of commercial real estate; is there a specific area within the industry that you’ve been impressed or excited about?
LA: That’s a tough question because there’s so much going on that is exciting. Personally, there are two things I get really excited about. One is on the ESG side. Our industry is just scratching the surface about what can be done and what we would need to do to reach our carbon neutrality goals. PGIM Real Estate has set a goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Lots of firms have announced dates around this objective and, of course, we would all love to be carbon neutral without buying carbon credits. How much efficiency can you gain out of enhancing your building, its operations and the materials with which it is built? There are a lot of new companies coming into the space to help address these questions.
The second thing I get very excited about very much overlaps with the first and it’s data in real estate. I used to work at Google in a people analytics team, where we lived and breathed big data sets and used data as a critical pillar to make business decisions. There are a lot of exciting companies offering solutions in real estate to either provide new alternative data or enhance your analysis capabilities to help you make better decisions. These decisions can be around how you operate your assets, how you increase tenant satisfaction, how you execute on transactions more thoughtfully, and so much more. There are also a lot of fascinating conversations going on around creating the data layer for buildings.
FP: What about digital twins?
LA: We talk a lot about digital twins today but that conversation is going to evolve a lot. The conversation is going to turn to the digital backbone of a building, the data layers of your building, what information is coming out of all the systems, and how are you using that data beyond the digital twin – the CAD model of a building – concept. I think a lot of companies are starting to broach this topic at a deeper level.