San Diego San Diego

Commercial real estate technology adoption is rising rapidly amid the pandemic as landlords look for ways to communicate with tenants and collect rent during. This is especially true for AI and natural language processing platforms, like San Diego-based Zego, which learn on their own and can more easily adapt to the rapidly changing situation.

"We are seeing a really sizable adoption of technology. All of the people that said digital payments are a passing fad have now found that they need another way to collect their money," Dirk Wakeham, CEO at Zego, tells "AI in many cases is filling the void for leasing agents that have to work from home. Owners can use the system through chat, phone or text to let the renter get the information that they need."

Zego is a digital rent collection and tenant engagement platform that leverage true AI technology. Because the technology is self-learning, the company did not need to make any modifications for use in response to the coronavirus pandemic. "We already have these conversational elements baked in," says Wakeham. "There are a lot of companies that are saying that they are using AI, but it is really a programming technique that is designed to take a user down a predetermined path. True natural language processing is much more advanced than what a lot of people are calling AI. Our program is self training, so once it has a specific conversation, it can learn from itself."

As a result, Zego has seen strong adoption in the last month, particularly from owners that had previously considered the technology. "We have had our best six months of new customer acquisition in the company's history," says Wakeham. "We are rapidly onboarding hundreds of new properties for online payments."

So far, rent collection has been the primary concern for landlords, rather than using the technology to communicate policy or new guidelines. "We have not used AI as part of the process," says Wakeham. "We are still interacting with our customers or clients, which are landlords and property managers, the same way that we had previously. Most of the dialogue that we are having with them is centered around how to make sure that all of my tenants know about the availability of your service, how do I change my fee structure to create less friction for them to pay and how do I modify the rules to allow us to make partial payments."



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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.