Aamidor Consulting continues to provide insight to smart building innovators. This month, Aamidor has interviewed Colin Dominish of LendLease's Podium platform. 

Q: To start, can you share your background, and especially your experience within smart building technology?
Colin Dominish: For over thirty years, I’ve been blessed to have global roles that translate technological advances into customer value. Normally involved at the front end of the project lifecycle, I tend to be looking into the future for new trends that can be applied. I started my involvement with smart buildings when working for an engineering consultancy back in 2009. Their multidisciplinary approach to building design included all manner of new ways in which to use information and communications technology-based systems, services and technology to optimize the facility's performance. Nowadays it is a fundamental part of my role.

Q: And, related, can you introduce us to LendLease and Podium?
Lendlease are city shapers, community creators and career makers. Our real estate projects span the globe, and include some of the world’s most sustainable urban and lifestyle precincts, living options for different stages of life, and social infrastructure. Lendlease Digital is on a mission to transform how and what we build – creating digital capabilities that support Lendlease’s key strategic objectives. We believe in enriching the lives of people and communities. Our places are sustainable, link people together, foster innovation and create a lasting experience. To enable these outcomes, Lendlease Digital developed Podium - a powerful solution that provides the property and construction industry with insights, clarity and performance never experienced before. Harnessing over 60 years of Lendlease applied experience, the platform incorporates digital products and services, from design automation to property insights and asset services. Podium is the enabler of autonomous buildings and the sustainability ambitions of our industry.
Q: What are some of the unique aspects of the offerings, and overall, differentiators provided by Podium?  
There are many point solutions in proptech that only solve one customer problem. Podium is a platform that spans the entire property lifecycle – from master planning and development through construction and into operations and management. This provides a base upon which to solve many different customer problems. The focus of the platform is not solely limited to the building – it inherently captures data and provides insights that inform how people make the best use of the building. The data is used to create a virtuous circle of understanding – taking learnings from how buildings perform and people perform within them to inform better outcomes for new property developments. This is so important for sustainability initiatives of the future – it is imperative to understand how a new development will draw upon existing buildings and precincts, and the materials supply chain, to leverage circular economy and sustainable approaches. Unlike many proptech solutions, Podium has been developed by harnessing over 60 years of applied experience from within a real estate and property company. The most discerning feature of Podium is that has been developed by a digital ecosystem of partners and is open and scalable for the whole industry. It is not just for Lendlease.   

Q:  It sounds like Podium is meant to be an open platform, with other solutions and providers that can integrate - can you tell us more about this aspect of the offering?
Whilst the internal Podium team have leading skills in both property and technology, we know that the world is moving fast with new technological advances which we may not have the capability or capacity to keep pace with. So we have partnered with leading providers like Accenture and Google to develop the platform, and to layer products and services onto it. We have a vast array of property material suppliers, technology providers, and even customers who are bringing their specialist capabilities to the forefront of our roadmap for the future. The platform has been built with this in mind – the open, scalable, flexible and interoperable nature of the architecture lends itself to new partners being onboarded frequently. If you have a solution that provides data throughout the property lifecycle, we are interested in how that data might augment our products and services. If you are managing a property portfolio and struggling with the challenge of multiple disaggregated solutions with limited interoperability and data sharing between them, we have a platform for you. 

Q: Where do you think Podium and other smart building solutions might offer new value in the future?
In many ways, the future is now when it comes to technology. I can’t think of too many use cases where the technology is lacking in order to define a solution. There are huge cultural barriers to overcome though. The property industry is a known slow adopter of new technological advances, and bringing new thinking into play requires significant education. There’s good reason for this – it is a high-risk high-reward industry. Anything new risks derailing multimillion or even multibillion dollar outcomes. That’s why I’m most excited by our predictive modelling capabilities. We are using machine learning extensively to model and simulate outcomes digitally within the Podium platform before they get applied physically in the real world. Our visualisation engines give property professionals the ability to optimise potential outcomes and mitigate digital risks before they become issues in real life. The inclusion of generative design engines as part of the platform is shrinking the timeframes required to fully understand the implications of risks in property development, and to mitigate issues that would otherwise negatively impact financial, building performance and customer experiences once a building is in operation. And the ability to digitally simulate the impact on environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes is changing the whole industry rapidly.

Q:  I've always found Australia to be a very advanced smart building market. What are some of differences between the Australian and US markets?
I tend to think the US is behind Australia in smart building adoption, what do you think? As stated earlier, I’m blessed to have spent the last three decades working on global projects. This has provided two key benefits. I’ve seen the innovation that is evident within Australian prop-tech companies and academia provide world class outcomes. And I’ve seen those technologies find their way into many countries around the world. The US is one of the key markets for adoption of these technologies. In short, I’d say Australia is a great innovation nation, and the US is great at adoption given their market size and focus on differentiated property outcomes. I’d close by saying that the whole property industry is on the cusp of new and exciting leaps forward based on emerging technologies that will need to reshape how buildings are designed, constructed and maintained. This is desperately required if we are going to solve for the environmental outcomes society requires on our journey to absolute zero.

Aamidor Aamidor Consulting works across the smart building industry, supporting startups, capital allocators, and industry incumbents throughout their journey, from the early stages of customer discovery to being on a rapid growth trajectory. Specifically, our firm supports startups on product and market strategy, investors as an independent advisor during diligence, and real estate owners/operators as they develop plans to deploy technology. See a summary of our past projects and also a description of our consulting services for more details on how we can help.