The fourth industrial revolution is set to change the way that we live, work and interact. As part of that, emerging technologies and digitisation are redefining the way that people use buildings. The fact that the region’s real estate industry in both commercial and residential sectors has openly accepted technology is not new. However, while most industries have kept up with industry standards and modern tech trends, the real estate sector has been a notable exception. Compared to other sectors, the real estate industry is in a very primary stage and no doubt they are moving at a rapid speed.
Experts in the industry tell CM today that the digital revolution in the residential market has been one to watch out for. Customers are now demanding new simpler and easier ways to not only buy, sell, and interact with companies but also are looking at contactless methods to maintain properties.
It is no surprise therefore that the topic has rapidly risen up the agenda of Real Estate executives over the past 12-24 months. This report explores how suppliers and service providers have adapted and brought in changes to the way they cater to the end-users.
In the last 12 months, due to the impact of the pandemic and the economic factors, there has been a tremendous change in the residential sector especially concerning the overall focus on technology. From being connected to communicate easily to ensuring the standards of service delivery is not compromised, players in the industry have seen many changes.
Prabhu Ramachandran, the Founder, and CEO of Facilio Inc. says, “Digital-first solutions that enable automation of workflows and provide operational visibility are on the rise. Transparency and communication with tenants/occupants are emerging as a key differentiator. Establishing 360o service delivery, with the use of technology, is now an essential capability, for delivering a seamless user experience, and to boost tenant satisfaction levels.”
Agrees, Sanjeevv Bhatia, the CEO of Netix Global BV. He goes on to add how occupant experiences have taken centre stage in the residential real estate market. “IoT enabled connected buildings, with intelligence-led operations delivered by real-time AI analytics and Machine Learning, are allowing building owners and facility managers to offer occupants responsive, personalized, secure and disruption-free user experiences,” he says.
The pandemic has forced every industry to embrace digital initiatives, and the service industry is no different. One of the leading FM companies Transguard Group has been leading the way in incorporating technology developed in-house for better service delivery. In fact, in early 2020 they launched an updated version of their website, www.transguardliving.com, which had an intentional focus on digital simplicity: quotations, bookings, invoices, and payments. “All of these services have all been handled online for a year now, and this put us ahead of the curve when Covid-19 hit. For additional peace of mind, we give our Move customers the option of sending us a video of their home so we can send a quote without having to physically enter their home,” explains Nick Armstrong, Head – Transguard Living. The company is also in the final stages of launching an App that can give the residential sector a much more confident way of accessing the services.
While the past year has certainly not been short of challenges, it has been amazing to see how the FM industry has risen to the challenges. Nick explains how the team at Transguard managed to quickly incorporate each requirement into their SOPs. “For example, once our team was trained on the need for and proper use of PPE (such as shoe covers, masks, and gloves, etc.), we then turned our focus to ensuring that our services matched the needs of the community. This included proactive training on fogging and other sanitization processes and then educating our customers on their effectiveness. Of course, Dubai’s official lockdown presented a completely different set of challenges, but working with our contacts within various authorities allowed us to navigate these requirements so that we could continue to provide the best possible service to our client base,” adds Nick.
The seamless experience
The motto for many service providers has been to provide that seamless experience to their clients. And technology providers have been able to rise to this challenge as well. As tech-enabled capabilities have advanced, and with rising expectations, a significant gap has emerged between what O&M teams need, and what their currently deployed legacy software tools are capable of. Prabhu explains how a cloud-based and software-led approach, powered by IoT and AI, is helping real estate portfolios transition away from reactive and siloed operations, towards a connected, data-driven model of operations, which sets real estate owners and operators up for success, by enabling flexibility and scalability.
This, in turn, helps owners and operators uncover operational gaps in real-time, says Prabhu, who goes on to add, “With a cloud-based platform approach, the portfolio O&M team can remotely monitor and control building systems, to maintain consistent uptime and deliver agile services, based on dynamic tenant requests and changing guidelines.”
Gaining complete transparency into real estate operations, in the form of quantifiable data, empowers all stakeholders, including residents. “One of the big issues facing the industry in the new normal was restoring occupant confidence. Cloud connectivity allows building owners to keep residents constantly updated on the fulfillment of sanitation protocols and related updates, as well as giving them touchless access to comfort controls and other building services,” adds Sanjeev.
IoT technology allows commercial real estate businesses to seamlessly connect buildings and systems, to gather real-time performance data for every single operational asset. “AI-based analytics is then able to process this data and generate insights that allow buildings to achieve peak sustainability, optimal asset performance, lower operating costs, predictive maintenance, and exceptional occupant experiences, at the same time,” says Sanjeev.
The impact of technology on the residential market will inevitably grow under the influence of the rise in demand for innovation. The long-term success of this will soon depend on how quickly the players can adapt to the changes that are taking place in the industry.
Even though the real estate market is traditionally rather conservative, many experts come to the same conclusion: due to the growing demand for innovation, it will inevitably change beyond recognition in the coming years.