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April 14, 2021 10:00AM

Technology in Real Estate: 2021 Update

Historically, the real estate industry has been known as a slow adopter of new technology. But are we still lagging? Our industry is starting to recognize the value of the technology options available to us today, and there is plenty of potential for real estate to become a leader in tech.

We are already using elements of artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in our software, as well as smart tech hardware like lights, thermostats, and locks. We are creating usable data to make actionable decisions, and as they say, data is the new oil (or gold, or currency, or whatever you want to call it).

It’s an exciting time to be in tech in real estate—there’s a ton of potential, and a lot of opportunity. After all, technology is the great enabler: It allows even smaller companies to offer services that are responsive and competitive with the larger firms.

Data Drives the Future

Real estate has moved beyond the physical, and there is a demand as well as a need for more data science within the space. We need the ability to interpret, question, and fill in the voids and gaps in our knowledge. Understanding our historical data as well as new information is a necessary skill that real estate companies need to invest in.

There is a difference, however, between data content and data context. We all have an abundance of data (both historical and new), but we don’t often have the whole picture to understand and make informed decisions.

For example, why did it take so long to heat the building on one day but not another? Maybe it was the outside temperature, maybe a problem with the heating system, maybe the occupancy of the building, the number of open windows/doors, etc.

Understanding the context and environmental variables that surround the data is the best way to make sense of data and properly analyze it. We track some of the data but not all, so we’re making ill-informed decisions because of a lack of holistic information.

The starting point to building a holistic view is to decide what is relevant and what external factors you should be tracking. Click here to see some of our ideas on external APIs that could be of use.

Letting Computers Take the Lead

One of the most common fears we hear when it comes to bots, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) is that making use of these technologies will displace workers and cause upset in a company. But when was the last time you heard someone on your team complaining that they didn’t have enough work to do? The general narrative seems to be that people feel overworked, there’s always too much to do and not enough time, and that companies run lean.

Our jobs will evolve, just as they did when calculators were invented, or computers, or cellphones. But with each evolution comes new opportunities; focus on how you can do your job better using the emerging technologies available. You have the opportunity to be an early adopter to stay ahead of the curve and add more value to your role, company, and career.

Impacts to your day-to-day

RPA/ML/AI will continue to penetrate our jobs and day-to-day activities. It’s already all around you—just think about how you see pricing on Amazon; book a flight or hotel; pull up Google Maps for directions; use Yelp to find a restaurant; or interact with Siri, Alexa, or even online chatbots.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a leading technology that aims to bridge the gap between applications and human work. It gives us a way to automate tasks across multiple systems (whether they are integrated or not) and gives us the ability to automate everything in the digital space but still interface, interact, and get validation/input/approval from a person (“human in the loop”).

RPA bots are able to harness the data of the number of steps, time between steps, numbers of errors, what was done to correct the error, and more. This leaves you with a rich set of information that can feed process-mining ML/AI algorithms to help identify improvements and solutions.

To automate some of your tasks to make your day easier, look for ways to improve what is in your control. Start with the repetitive, mundane, low-hanging fruit, but also look for ways to elevate—not only “what would make my job or life easier?” but also “how can I use automation and process improvements to do a better job and add more value to my role/team/company?”

Decision-Making Through Data

Everyone wants to reduce complexity and simply Google the answer. At REdirect, we are often asked to identify the best property management system, but we are complex creatures with complex and evolving needs, and those needs depend on a variety of factors (accessibility, convenience, preference, safety, efficiency, price, and more).

Having the right data, analytics, and artificial intelligence will help make decisions more straightforward and objective. Taking more data and getting insights from it makes it easier for us to see the bigger picture more clearly. Determining the gaps in data and gaps in context is a great starting point. But sometimes it can be difficult to identify those gaps—you’re looking for something you’ve never used before. That’s where good consulting comes in, with best practices and an arsenal of tools and information that you may have been unaware of.

Early adopters and believers in the power of technology generally end up with more power. Look at the evolution of social media and YouTube—they’ve given a global voice to anyone who wants it, but those who jumped in early and built a following are in a much better position to capitalize on the platforms; those who delay adoption face a longer uphill climb.

As a real estate company, you want to review all your processes and look for opportunities to standardize and automate to give you the ability to not just survive but also effectively differentiate, compete, and potentially lead in your market. Technology, and the right consulting partner, can help you get there.

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Faraz Memon
About the Author

Faraz Memon

Faraz joined the REdirect team in 2009 to help grow the company. As a Principal, Faraz’s focus is on ensuring REdirect clients get the highest value for their real estate technology investments. His vision for each client is to fully leverage technology to streamline business processes. 

 

Faraz has extensive experience …