Every day we hear about how disruptive, cutting-edge technology is about to change the world. People are reminded that if they don’t keep up with the latest tech trends they will soon get left behind. Businesses are told that the rules have changed, disruptive technologies are changing the way businesses are run, and if your business is not able to operate at the forefront of technology, it may not be around for too much longer. At the many Real Estate technology conferences and events that take place throughout each year, there is very often a large focus on these “big ticket” disruptive themes, and the keynote address often leverages them to make a grand statement about how the landscape is changing. There is very good reason for this, as these disruptive elements are almost certainly going to drastically affect the way we do business, but it is also important to remember that there are a number of technologies available today (that are no longer considered major trends in the industry) that are able to add significant value to most businesses.
The problem with such a large focus on disruptive technologies is that we risk overwhelming those that are in a position to adopt technology, which in turn risks a lack of adoption therein, especially in the real estate industry when considering the long term nature of an investment. Our business destination still remains largely the same as technologies change around us, marketing properties to tenants, leasing, property management, investor reporting, etc. However, our journey in getting there can be greatly improved through technology, we just need to recognise the business case and be prepared to adopt. You don’t necessarily need to be at the forefront of the tech revolution to realise value from technology. Here are some examples of how real estate companies have created business value by adopting technology to improve their business process journey.
Real estate inspections
Every real estate organisation needs to complete inspections in some way or form. Often this process is largely manual, perhaps done using a clipboard, sometimes entirely unstructured with no prescribed format, and the information collected remains with the inspector, of no value to the organisation. By leveraging mobile technology, companies are able to develop digital inspection tools which provide customisable templates for inspectors to assign, complete and track inspections on a continual basis. All data can be stored in a central database, facilitating centralised reporting for management oversight and insight generation for further improvements.
As a real estate business grows and evolves, more and more systems and sources are required for its effective operational management, each of these systems and sources with different standards and data formats. The challenge of rationalising this disparate data and making sense of it from a reporting perspective is a common one in many organisations today. The journey today often involves the time of a skilled individual to manually consolidate and make sense of the data, someone whose time could be better spent on the analysis thereof. By leveraging business intelligence technology, the collection of data from many different information silos can be automated and rationalised within one centralised data warehouse, the end result being a standardised data set across an entire organisation that allows for effective and valuable analysis and reporting.
It’s a similar story with lease management. Many organisations still run manual processes for their lease management workflow, which introduces discrepancies or slows down the process. Information and records are also often stored as paper records that are difficult to discover or are stored in folder structures on shared drives that are difficult to categorise and search for, requiring a lot of manual intervention. Thanks to the broad availability of document and information management solutions, it is becoming easier and easier to implement a technology solution to remove tedious, manual processes. Solutions like Box and SharePoint combined with custom development can be leveraged to largely automate the lease process from end to end, reducing the risk of human error and creating further value.
The point is that it’s not only massive disruptive technologies that create value. Real value comes from finding ways to improve the way we function on a daily basis. The disruptive technologies of yesterday are today the tried and tested mechanisms that can allow for these improvements and we need only look to how our industry peers have benefitted to give us the motivation to adopt.