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In-House PropTech Drives Hundreds of Millions of Dollars of Revenue for JLL

How can we facilitate continuous innovation in our business more quickly than the speed of change in the market? This question challenges executives from all corners of the business world—from healthcare, manufacturing, banking and energy to commercial real estate and technology. At JLL, we address this increasingly urgent question in part through our Da Vinci Awards, a program that encourages and rewards employees who dream up the most innovative and effective ways to address the real-world challenges faced by our clients.

Since our business focuses on strategic real estate and related technology decisions, our global teams constantly field questions like: how much space do we really need, how long should the lease really be, how can we minimize costs or how can we improve worker safety?

We’re looking to address both strategic and tactical business challenges with novel ideas that have practical value and tangible ROI.

While we have a broad and multi-faceted approach to innovation at JLL, the Da Vinci Awards are one of many efforts to help drive rapid and iterative business change to drive value for our clients, our people and our firm. Now in its 15th year, the program has helped us not only foster a culture of creative thinking, but also translate that into a hard ROI. Da Vinci Award inventions and solutions have generated more than $800 million in cumulative revenue for the firm, as well as $200 million each year in savings for our clients.

And as it turns out, encouraging internal teams to chase big ideas that align with the organizational strategy pays off in more ways than one.

Why insider innovation matters

No sector is immune to the mad rush for innovation. To stay competitive, organizations must consistently scrutinize legacy processes in light of new opportunities or threats. This requires new ways of thinking across the company, all the way from the C-Suite to employees sitting on the front lines with clients, as well as those who provide important behind-the-scenes support: the “insiders.” When every company insider approaches their job with an innovator mindset, new solutions continually emerge.

Encouraging internal innovation also helps create a more meaningful employee experience. Our awards program encourages staff to think bigger and bolder thoughts. In addition to a cash prize and the opportunity to scale their ideas around the world, winning employees can connect with executive committee members and compete for future investment. This visible investment in ideas is also an investment in morale, and has helped our teams experience the impact that true employee empowerment can have in the larger workplace ecosystem.

Simply put, happier, more empowered employees do better work…including coming up with game-changing innovations.

This year’s big winners

The 2018 competition was especially tight, with teams offering intriguing new approaches to issues like space utilization, on-site engineering assurance and occupancy benchmarking data. The two award winners named this year offer integrated solutions to managing complex real estate portfolios:

Enhanced workplace and space planning, 3D walk-through visualization and budgeting. Called JLL InSite, this new platform provides accurate and reliable test-fitting and walk-through visualizations supported by industry-standard software and buildout budgets—all developed around a client’s unique workplace strategy. By delivering code-compliant, 2D AutoCAD and 3D Revit floorplans and test-fits, our in-house architects and designers help ensure that a client’s vision can be realized within the footprint of their space. Users can drop a pin and spin around within a 3D model, virtually ‘walking’ inside the yet-to-be-built space. With a more precise and compliant test-fit, the build-out can begin sooner and budget planning is a breeze (relatively speaking).

JLL InSite also features a self-service, web-based space calculator tool to help organizations determine how much space they need. And once a test-fit plan is complete, a budgeting calculator estimates buildout and furnishing costs based on similar projects in the same market. Our in-house research team and project managers—who oversee thousands of buildouts around the country—compile market-by-market construction costs to develop the comprehensive budget estimates.

Flexible, scalable lease administration and critical date management. It’s typically difficult—or at least time-consuming—to paint an accurate view of upcoming critical lease events and current terms. Flexible Lease Essentials now provides that detail in short order, bringing together all the pieces of the puzzle at once, including managing landlord charges, confirming payments are based on appropriate rates and expenses and ensuring you have the control you need over executed documents and approval processes—whether you’re responsible for a portfolio of 20 leases or 20,000.

And we’re already putting these ideas into action, just as we’ve done with previous Da Vinci Award winners. Our commissioning platform, IntelliCommand, continues to help our clients catch potential equipment failures before they happen, reduce energy costs and enhance the workplace environment with optimal conditions. Since it won in 2013, Blackbird, our recently patented market intelligence tool, has enabled brokers to give clients 3D virtual tours of spaces across the country—all without leaving their office. And a now-patented electrical panel, winner of the 2017 Da Vinci Awards, will improve safety for JLL’s 16,500 engineers and the broader facilities management industry.

The future of work is filled with uncertainty. What’s certain, however, is that facilitating continuous innovation in your business more quickly than the speed of change in the market takes more than just an annual rewards program. It takes dedicated people, processes and tools that, rather than working in an organizational silo, are strongly connected to the core business in order to create tangible ROI.

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