The Last Word: Noah Springer, Extra Space Storage

Posted by Noah Springer on Feb 28, 2024 8:46:22 AM

As kids, we all look forward to the future—to see what is coming and when.The older I get, the faster the future turns into the present; however, the futuristic things I believed would be coming are taking longer than I anticipated. I haven’t been the only one who thought we’d have flying cars and inter-planetary travel by now. The original Blade Runner was set in 2019. I, Robot’s future is supposed to be in 2035—a mere 11 years away. Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to the future—the year 2015—to ride hoverboards and wear self-tying Nike’s in Back to the Future. While there have been some amazing advancements, for the most part, technology takes time and usually more than we think.


In almost every panel I am on, at every industry show I attend, and on every investor meeting I take, the inevitable question of “What is your company doing with AI (artificial intelligence)?” comes up. I have heard other companies answer by saying things like, “AI builds our pricing models,” or “AI gives us customer and demographic data to know where to buy properties,” or “AI answers our customer phone calls.” But AI is not the same thing as a highly developed algorithm or database, regardless of whether you name it that. In fact, beyond my kids usingChat GPT to do their homework for them, I don’t think I’ve seen real AI being used—and certainly not in storage yet.


Artificial intelligence will be a powerful tool when it is utilized to build and better itself—that’s the real power of AI, not just serving data from a database, answering a question, or helping a call center route calls. The idea of real AI is when code is written that is then used to create new code, solve its own problems, and find new problems to work on—without human intervention. Right now, the limitations for AI in storage is that as an industry, we aren’t ready for that. While Extra Space prides itself on having access to a large amount of data, we’re still missing the essential data we’d need to be able to ask effective questions for AI, not to mention we would need programmers to code and build a new AI tool (Netflix is reportedly paying AI engineers over $900,000 in starting salaries because, as of now, those engineers still don’t exist).


I know the industry is excited for artificial intelligence, just as excited as I was as a kid to get a hoverboard in 2015. I simply believe it’s going to take a little longer than we think before we’re utilizing true AI in self-storage. In the meantime, keep renting units, buying good real estate, and treating your managers well, because that’s what your customers really want—real intelligence.



Noah Springer joined Extra Space Storage in 2006 after several years in the banking industry. He has helped create Management Plus, Extra Space Storage’s third-party management platform that now has over 900 properties under management. Springer also leads the Asset Management efforts at Extra Space, including all value-add projects, commercial revenues, and joint ventures. He has a Bachelor’s in Finance and an M.B.A. from the University of Utah.


Read MSM's profile of Joe Margolis, CEO of Extra Space Storage, in Who's Who In Self-Storage.