How JLL is creating revolutionary digital experiences in real estate technology
Cutting-edge innovation in business technology doesn’t just happen in tech firms anymore. Every company is now a software company, no matter what services they provide or products they make. To illustrate this truth, look no further than JLL, the second-largest public brokerage firm in the world.
Boasting more than 100,000 employees, JLL is a storied commercial real estate company that was originally founded in 1783. But despite its illustrious past, the organization has its eyes firmly set on the future. The firm is providing users with innovative, best-in-class property technology (PropTech) experiences and products through its JLL Technologies (JLLT) arm—and using Pendo to do it.
Driving digital transformation in commercial real estate
JLL provides a global set of services that encompasses the full spectrum of the commercial real estate industry. It helps both investors who want to buy, sell, and operate commercial buildings as well as occupiers who want to find, build out, or operate spaces small and large.
Services to clients as well as brokers and other employees increasingly take place via JLLT, which was formed in 2019, in part to bring together a slew of tech development efforts that had traditionally existed in silos. JLLT creates software products that collect, analyze, and explain data about the commercial real estate market. This in turn helps brokers counsel clients on key decisions.
JLLT also helps research analysts get to the right answers to better advise clients and the greater business. “We have an army of researchers around the world who are really market experts,” said Daniel Fenton, director of product in JLLT’s market intelligence group. “They track the office market, the industrial market, data centers, retail, healthcare, all these different facets—and they use our technology to collect this data and manage it.”
Freeing up development resources and boosting efficiency
One key product Fenton and his team manage is Blackbird. It’s a geospatial visualization platform designed to demonstrate market knowledge to clients in a visually compelling way. Because the platform has existed for a number of years, and has accumulated a wide array of features over time. Given this large feature set, JLLT wanted to ensure new features weren’t getting lost in the noise, and that brokers were able to quickly use and gain value from them. In short, they wanted to drive awareness and support around new features in a way that wouldn’t be too much of a drain on engineering.
“The worst thing for a product team is developing something that people don’t use,” Fenton said. To ensure that wouldn’t end up the case, he explained, “we used to spend quite a bit of engineering effort and design time creating our own guides that would help people figure out what new features were on offer. Previously, it took something like three days.”
But there was a better way forward that would boost organizational efficiency while saving engineers precious time. JLLT turned to Pendo In-App Guides to support and familiarize users with new features—and immediately saw a benefit as task times fell. What used to take an engineer three days as a manual build, Fenton said, could now be handled by a product manager in an hour.
Gauging user sentiment to make better product decisions
Just as they leveraged Pendo to hone organizational efficiency, Fenton’s team also used it to start collecting important user feedback, specifically Net Promoter Score (NPS), on Blackbird to gauge the health of broker sentiment on the platform.
“Brokers are actually more like customers,” Fenton explained, “because they can bounce from company to company within the industry and take their business with them. So it’s really important for us that the brokers feel like we’re making great software for them.” In other words, NPS offered Fenton and the Market Intelligence team insights into how much value brokers were getting from Blackbird as a platform.
“NPS really solved the problem of how to measure the value of Blackbird if we don’t have a way to attribute direct revenue to it. Are we just operating based on what people say? This gave us a way to actually measure what that sentiment is.”
Turning product insights into actions
Another internally-built app Fenton’s team manages is MarketSphere. It’s a business intelligence platform that tracks and compiles commercial real estate data and delivers reporting and analytics on it to brokers, researchers, and clients.
“In order to be able to deliver statistics consistently across all of our markets, we needed to be on a common system,” Fenton explained. What led to the app’s creation was being able to deliver a single data reporting standard across markets and the greater efficiency that went along with that.
Like Blackbird, MarketSphere had been around for a number of years, and Fenton and team suspected that a number of accumulated features were going unused and could be retired or improved. The prospect of wiring MarketSphere up to a traditional analytics platform, however, was prohibitively expensive. And so the team brought in Pendo.
“We didn’t have the feature usage data we wanted in our existing database,” Fenton said, “but with Pendo, we suddenly had insights we never had before in a relatively older product.”
Once they saw the value of the usage data Pendo provided and began updating MarketSphere features accordingly, the Market Intelligence team expanded Pendo usage on the platform. As with Blackbird, JLLT began collecting NPS feedback on MarketSphere — and has seen its score increase by 30 points since tracking began. Additional use cases included adding in-app guides for training and deploying communications around updates and new features. Above all else, Pendo helped the JLLT team make better, more data-informed decisions. After all, Fenton said, “there’s no arguing with facts.”