Matt Waggoner, Managing Director of commercial real estate firm JLL, elevated this 150 year old business with a digital play. After pursuing an idea that Matt dreamed up 4 years ago, JLL recently launched Spaces: A digital hub to celebrate and showcase workspace innovation. Spaces also accompanies a yearly competition to showcase the most innovative company workspaces.
The journey to understand how tech can elevate your business is often hazy and intimidating, since you only get to see another company’s finished product without knowing what went into it. But Matt breaks down the three phases that he and JLL had to go through in order to bring this digital idea to life.
Phase One: Ideation
In this phase, Matt was focused on forming the fragmented idea that he had around creating a digital experience that showcases innovative workspaces. He knew that JLL needed a way to elevate the workspace conversation so people can see space as an asset, rather than a cost.
After countless brainstorming sessions at the local Hubbard & Cravens coffee shop and a small investment from JLL, Matt was able to launch the first version of the Spaces site to build buzz and explore if this idea had any legs. He also coordinated the first Spaces Showcase competition, which attracted C-level executives and built excitement around what this could do for the community.
Phase 2: Grow
Once Matt had proof that there was value in this idea, he set out to grow the idea into internal and external buy-in. He partnered with Innovatemap to create a pitch deck communicating the mission of Spaces and initial design concepts for what the site could look like. Matt took these assets and presented the idea to JLL executives... but was denied investment, since they could not see how the idea could contribute to their bottom line.
But not to be deterred, Matt set out to find the internal champions that would recognize the return on this investment. After all, he saw the value that this digital product could bring to the company, and he was determined to help others see it too. After 8 months of pitching, getting feedback, incorporating ideas, and developing a team of advocates, Matt presented Spaces to the digital board of JLL and got unanimous support to invest in the idea and scale to new markets.
Phase 3: Go
Now that Matt has secured internal buy-in and has received an investment from JLL, it is time to bring this idea to life. JLL again partnered with Innovatemap to align on the vision for this product and the tactical plan of execution to make it real.
This activation included product screens, brand identity, a product MVP and roadmap, marketing templates, and assets to enable the JLL teams across the country. As Matt explained, it was enlightening to bring this to life and know the what it really takes to bring a digital product to life. Spaces had a team of 3-4 individuals to drive the project forward, and the process took 6 months from vision to execution.
Spaces has been rolled out to 5 markets across the U.S. this year, with 15 markets new markets to be added next year. It is a valuable and easy to use digital experience that features innovative workspaces, inspires curious users, and connects to local vendors that can help other people create their own innovative spaces.
Matt stuck to his original vision of creating a digital experience that elevated the workspace conversation and allowed people to see space as an asset, rather than a cost. While Matt had to overcome numerous roadblocks along the way, he remained true to the knowledge that his idea would create real value for the business and for their customers, and with this confidence he would not take no for an answer.
After 4 years of ideation, pitching, getting feedback, rejection, and passion, the Spaces site launched. It has solidified JLL’s spot as a thought leader, become a go-to resource to connect with vendors, provides valuable market insights, and has finally provided a space where people can get inspired to create their own innovative workspace. JLL is no longer a real estate company like the rest of the market, they are a tech company that does real estate.
- You don’t have to be a top executive to initiate tech disruption in your company. Sometimes the best ideas come from the people at the bottom who are closer to clients and closer to the product.
- Figure out a way to tie tech changes into bigger initiatives within the organization - this can help persuade the higher ups that this digital disruption is necessary.
- Prioritize your backlog and your MVP, what are the needs and what are the nice to haves. Keep the needs, and will still get to keep some nice to haves. Be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the product.