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While the corporate real estate sector has historically been slow to adopt new technology, new challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated proptech investments. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2021 commercial real estate outlook, nearly 60% of CRE managers are actively researching partnerships with proptech providers.
Property technology refers to solutions that modernize and optimize the real estate industry.
The goal of commercial proptech is to simplify all aspects of corporate real estate management, including planning, financing, construction, leasing, and space management.
If you’re a corporate real estate professional, here are five proptech trends you should keep on your radar.
Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been an increasingly popular addition to the proptech ecosystem since the FAA approved them for commercial use in 2016.
UAVs provide you a level of visibility into the condition of a property that wasn’t possible 10 years ago. You can partner with a drone services provider to inspect areas of buildings that are difficult to access or dangerous, such as the roof.
In addition to offering visibility into every part of a building’s exterior, drones can collect visual, thermal, and position data through infrared cameras and sensors. This enables you to evaluate wear and tear as well as hot and cold spots or leaks.
With UAVs, you have a more complete picture of the condition of every property in your portfolio, which helps you make more informed decisions.
Building information modeling (BIM) has long been established as one of the most vital construction technology solutions. Recently, more CRE executives have realized its potential as a game-changing proptech solution.
BIM combines 3D modeling and information management software with a collaborative process to create and manage digital models of physical buildings within a shared environment.
With BIM technology, you can visualize every element of a building — from structural elements such as doors, windows, and walls to less visible building systems. Like drones, BIM provides a more comprehensive view of your properties and helps you determine how to manage them in the best way.
One of the biggest advantages of BIM for corporate real estate leaders is the freedom to experiment with redesigns and expansions before making expensive investments. BIM can also make it easier to plan major building upgrades, such as retrofitting to improve energy efficiency or installing smart building technology like intelligent lighting systems.
Virtual reality (VR) is like a supercharged version of BIM. Instead of just viewing a model on a computer screen, VR technology allows you to place yourself inside a virtual version of the building. You can create an immersive experience that feels like you’re actually moving through the space, which helps you understand how occupants might interact with it.
Augmented reality (AR) is similar to BIM and VR in that it enables you to visualize different building elements and office design scenarios. Unlike VR which replaces the physical environment, AR merges the physical and digital world by superimposing computer-generated images onto physical space. This makes it easier to understand the impact of smaller or more specific changes to a property, such as reconfiguring the layout or moving furniture.
In addition to using it to plan upgrades and remodels, you can also allow tenants to virtually explore the property before signing a lease.
Using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors in corporate real estate isn’t new, but it’s even more relevant as CRE leaders respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sensors offer real-time visibility into occupancy and building conditions.
Maintaining a safe indoor environment requires physical distancing, good ventilation, and humidity. Because dry air can allow particles to spread farther, public health officials recommend keeping humidity between 40-60%.
By tracking real-time occupancy, you can make appropriate adjustments that keep space density low so tenants or employees can easily maintain safe distances. You can also use occupancy data to create efficient cleaning schedules that ensure spaces are properly sanitized based on actual utilization.
You can even connect humidity sensors to intelligent building systems that automatically adjust airflow and temperature based on occupancy levels and weather.
ROI has always been a crucial metric for corporate real estate executives. However, the volatility of the current economic landscape has made them even more motivated to minimize risks and maximize returns from their portfolios.
A data analytics platform that lets you visualize and interpret internal and external data is an increasingly essential element of your proptech toolbox. A real estate data analytics platform offers real-time visibility into occupancy and utilization at a macro or granular level. You can see overall costs and compare expenses and performance of individual buildings. With this visibility, you can see how different scenarios will impact your portfolio and identify opportunities to optimize costs.
A data analytics platform also helps you better leverage other proptech by allowing you to aggregate data from multiple sources into a single source of truth.
Implementing proptech solutions can help your organization make immediate improvements and position you for long-term profitability.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you invest.
Upgrading your data analytics capabilities means employees will have access to more information. Technology that isn’t used properly can also make your organization more vulnerable to data breaches. An acceptable use policy ensures everyone understands their responsibilities when it comes to cybersecurity.
Any substantial change in operations is likely to result in some pushback from tenants or employees. Before adding a new solution, take the time to explain why it’s important and how to use it. Be sure to give occupants the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns.
The structure of your existing tech stack will have a major impact on the costs and resources necessary to implement new proptech. Work with your IT team to evaluate existing solutions and determine which ones are worth keeping.
While your organization might not be ready for drones or augmented reality just yet, you can take steps to prepare for the future. First, determine how these solutions will support your business objectives. Implementing new technology just for the sake of being on the leading edge can lead to a lot of additional costs that bring little benefit to your bottom line.
Next, evaluate your company’s technology maturity. What workplace analytics are you collecting now? How advanced are your integrations? What elements are you missing?
Proptech can help you support your strategic initiatives, but only if you have a clear understanding of where you are now and a well-defined roadmap for moving forward.
Take the first step today by taking our five-minute technology maturity assessment.
As the VP of Product Strategy, Chad David Smith wears many hats that leverage his 20+ years of experience in the industry. Chad collaborates directly with clients and partners as well as with the iOFFICE client experience, client success, sales, marketing and development teams to create the most innovative and valued solutions for our clients.