Digitisation in the Post Pandemic World


When we think about digitisation, we must first understand the real difference between digitisation and innovation. Digitisation is investing in technology so we can do our job better, cheaper and faster – it’s doing the same thing but improving the way we work. Innovation on the other hand, is focused on transforming the business model and the operational model. So, when we think about digitisation in the post pandemic world and how that may look, the difference between innovation and digitisation plays a key factor.

The trends we have seen in real estate over the past year are digitisation, innovation and collaboration. Yes, automating processes is crucial for digitisation and we know that data is important, but what do you do with that data once you have it?

We think of property as a pile of bricks with leases, but that property is also a key source of data. Companies such as Amazon, Apple and even Facebook are focused on gathering as much data as they can – but in the real estate industry, we are not seeing the true value of properties that generate data – it is not only the data of how a property is being operated but also the people who occupy or use those buildings, the end users.

For companies that have targeted that type of data, it is crucial for them to know about the end user, such as the consumer visiting a shopping centre and making purchases. However, as an industry, we can be hesitant to it.

Having this data in the Cloud is not the main goal but it’s a great starting point. We need to find that one truth of data and use that as our first step and then build on top of that.

The idea of gathering autonomous data and then using that data to make the right management decisions is imperative in our digitisation journey. Using a wealth of data that is supported with AI or machine learning is crucial in making the right decisions for our end users, allowing for operators to drive their business.

AI is an area that we should be looking to invest in more, although we as an industry often look at investments in technology as only an ROI – how long will it take for me to earn my investment back, what will I get out of this etc. However, this investment is a basis of innovation, it is a basis of transforming your business model and transforming your operation model as well; therefore, an ROI only makes sense if you compare it to a situation today. If you compare it to a possible future situation, your whole ROI calculation can become difficult to analyse as you don’t know what your end goal is, and it can feel as if you’re shooting at a moving target.

When it comes to collaboration, we are working in an industry where data isn’t always stored efficiently. According to a recent survey by KPMG, roughly 60% of respondents do not have a centralised storage solution even though it is a critical component of an effective data strategy.

If your data is stored haphazardly in databases, data warehouses or in an extensive Excel spreadsheet, it can make it difficult for concepts such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to work accurately. AI is nothing more than software gathering data, processing information, and analysing it to perform tasks or make predictions. Therefore, if the data is not in one central location, you won’t be able to use that data efficiently.

As an industry we like to think that “traditional real estate data” is the structured data we understand and everything else is not relevant or is unstructured, therefore, it cannot integrate into current decision making. However, this is rapidly changing, and you need to be open to gathering data outside of your realm of business intelligence and business analysis because it does not mean it is not relevant anymore.

The trend of digitisation in technology is both driven by the pandemic and the need for collaboration as a team. Therefore, it is not only imperative to have your one source of truth of data, but also to have functionality documents in place so we can work efficiently, and not only share data but collaborate from anywhere.

The transformation we’re seeing in digitisation isn’t only teams actively collaborating and working together on a technological platform. It is also the collaboration with external service providers, whether they’re administrators, property managers or facility managers, as well as external stakeholders such as vendors and tenants.

Digitalisation improves efficiency and speed, makes it possible to automate and progress complex data, helping to create more time for qualitative and business decisions.

The future of digitisation in the post pandemic world is extensive – you can use the data gathered from your assets and learn about the user experience and the property itself. Discover what parts of a building aren’t being used and how you can optimise that going forward. Your assets are already generating this data, so, by using machine learning technology and artificial intelligence, we can use this data to not only improve the user experience at tenant level, but we could hypothetically create self-managed properties with an autonomous company.