Office Hub On AI And Global Expansion

Office Hub CEO Grant Philip talks about their new marketplace technology, Abacus, and how it’s supporting their global expansion plans.
  • Australian coworking marketplace Office Hub plans to operate in 100+ countries by 2020
  • New Abacus tool uses AI to allow tenants to bid and negotiate for workspace
  • VR, AR and cryptocurrency are upcoming PropTech areas

Australian coworking marketplace Office Hub launched its Abacus tool recently, which promises to help tenants find ‘the perfect workspace for less’. This is done using an API with elements of AI and automation to create verified customer profiles and allow tenants to bid and negotiate rental agreements with workspace operators.

It’s another innovation in the burgeoning PropTech industry, where technologies from blockchain to IoT-fuelled toilets are hitting the market with increasing frequency.

Developed by workspace marketplace Office Hub, 85% of operators in Australia are already using the Abacus cloud-based technology. It includes virtual assistants to answer search questions with machine learning and advanced data analysis to match tenants to workspaces.

Regus, WeWork, Servcorp and Hub Australia are some of the big names in coworking that have already adopted Office Hub’s Abacus in the Asia-Australia region.

We spoke to Office Hub’s CEO Grant Philip to find out more about their plans in the PropTech space and global coworking market.

Allwork.Space: Why did you decide to develop this specific technology?

Grant Philip: Unlike commercial real estate, the coworking industry is relatively unregulated. Bait advertising techniques and vague pricing make it hard to compare the options on a level playing field.

Abacus is the first platform in the world dedicated to commercial and coworking spaces in which the tenant and the workspace can transparently interact in real time to promote their offering and negotiate a deal.

The current process to find a coworking space can become fragmented with multiple contact points, complex offerings and even, at times, advertisements for spaces that don’t actually exist. The industry is so competitive today that workspaces are under pressure to secure a tenant’s visit to their centre, which has cast a shadow on the industry and the search experience.

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We have built a complimentary transparent platform where we consult on a tenant’s needs, Geomap their requirements and shortlist from our 40,000+ listings a selection of four to six locations that align to their needs.

The workspace then verifies that they have space aligned to the tenant’s needs before adding additional photos, videos, content and pricing around what they can offer.

The tenant can then review and interact with the platform by ranking, reviewing and sharing the shortlist with their team. They can eliminate the mismatched spaces before walking out the door to view them thus saving them the time and frustration as currently experienced in the industry.

Within Abacus the tenant can also book inspections, bid on a potential space and collaborate as a team as they share notes and feedback post tour.

Abacus has reduced the time to search and negotiate on a coworking space by over 80% whilst providing the human interaction with the Office Hub specialists who guide and assist in every way.

How are you planning to leverage Abacus globally?

Abacus is currently used in Australia, New Zealand and much of Asia including Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. It will be available globally by the end of 2020 when Office Hub will be operating in 100+ countries with more than 100,000 offices on our digital marketplace.

Like our service, the tool is free to all our customers so we expect the global uptake to be enormous simply because it helps people save money at the end of the day. But the really interesting thing is that uptake will be led by operators – the pressure will be on to find innovative ways to get ahead as the flexible office market gets increasingly crowded.

What other PropTech innovations are on your radar at the moment?

It’s an exciting time as the coworking industry is maturing at the same time that property technologies are emerging for the first time. There are some amazing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality developments which can recreate the workspace tour experience and will have a huge effect on the number of large organisations and overseas companies securing flexible office space.

Cryptocurrency is another area to watch as we see some innovative coworking centres accept crypto membership payments. Countries such as Dubai and Singapore are among the first to make changes that will allow it to be used across the commercial real estate.

There are countless PropTech innovations in the fields of building, selling and managing commercial property but there’s nothing else in the way of the leasing process, which is where we saw the opportunity for Abacus.

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