Leanne Pilkington: A technology testing strategy that works

Taking advantage of new technology means having an open mind to its possibilities, and not dismissing it before its potential is known. But as Laing+Simmons Chief Executive Officer Leanne Pilkington reasons, tech needs a criteria-based adoption strategy that includes implementation only following a cost-benefit analysis indicating its worth.

More than ever, real estate businesses must have an open mind to tech. It’s one of the major lessons agents have learned from the pandemic.

The adoption of new innovations and ways of working has made agents realise that tech isn’t something to be afraid of, rather it provides tools that can make their lives easier in so many ways.

The tech open mindset comes from agents and there’s an expectation of franchisors to support and invest in new innovations with the potential to benefit their networks.

But the motivation to investigate new tech comes from owners too. 

For instance, there is a mandate among the owners of Laing+Simmons to investigate new tech with the potential to benefit our people and the businesses in our network.

We’ve agreed to invest in tech we believe in.

Having a group of shareholders that are business owners themselves means there is a genuine interest in tech that increases efficiency and saves time, and on this score, we have some exciting announcements planned in this space this year.

But having an open mind to tech is only the first component in a tech adoption strategy.

There are criteria that must be satisfied and, for us, these include ease of implementation, simplicity, user-friendliness and practicality.

We’ll tolerate some teething problems in the rollout phase if it’s clear these criteria will be met once the initiative is established.

To achieve this clarity – to be confident the tech we launch will satisfy our criteria – the trial phase is important.

At Laing+Simmons, that involves engaging with the shareholder group to understand which teams are most interested in a particular innovation.

We then task multiple offices to trial the initiative first. 

In this way, we are trialling tech with people and offices that are enthusiastic about the initiative, who are motivated to give it due consideration, so we can be confident in the results before we roll it out across the group.

This also enables us to identify tech ambassadors who can support the broader implementation.

It’s very important to have people in the team who know the capacity of the new tech and who are skilled in its use.

This process led to our adoption of, which we use to manage the corporate team’s various projects.

It makes it easy for everyone to stay up-to-date with the progress of different elements, and we can easily see tasks and responsibilities, to keep on schedule and embed accountability.

It also features some cool integration tools that make it really useful.

Usefulness is obviously key. If tech isn’t user-friendly, it just doesn’t get used.

We trialled a franchise management system that provided a massive amount of information and plenty of reporting options, but it was so time consuming and not at all user-friendly. In the end, no-one used it, least of all me.

It helps when the tech itself is interesting or adds further interest to other conversations already happening in real estate. 

For instance, re-marketing allows us to get really targeted with our digital marketing, which is an interesting area that is continuing to evolve, while artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role for all of us, and it’s fascinating to see how sophisticated it is becoming.

We’ll keep our minds open and invest in tech we believe will make our people perform better and our businesses prosper.

So long as it doesn’t make our lives harder. 

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Leanne Pilkington

Leanne Pilkington is Chief Executive Officer and Director of Laing+Simmons.