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Technology trends in real estate

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Some of the major technology trends that are seeing a lot of interest from real estate companies are the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain

We are witnessing yet another wave of digital transformation which will disrupt most of the industries and real estate is no exception. Technology is changing at a much faster pace and by the time an organization adopts something new it becomes a thing of the past. This disruptive and ever-evolving nature of technology makes it imperative for Organizations to be more agile in their decision making and adoption of new technology to be able to keep up with the times.

There have been some significant policy changes impacting the real estate industry like Demonetization, GST & RERA in recent times. While Demonetization had no real impact from a technology standpoint, GST & RERA had major impact on systems and processes as it required major overhauling of backend CRM & ERP systems. While Govt kept releasing notifications, real estate companies battled to accommodate these changes in their backend systems.

The first challenge was to decode new laws and figure out the impact on our industry. There were many interpretations of some of the provisions and key was to get expert opinion and take a firm stance. Once the stance was taken it was about configuring the changes in system like changes to tax procedures, calculation procedures, invoice / credit / debit note formats, so on and so forth. There were changes to be made to all open purchase orders, sales orders, etc. It also required systemic changes to various master data like customer master, material masters, vendor masters, accumulating GST registration data from business partners and updating in systems.

We have an in-house Centre of Excellence for SAP & CRM systems and this team worked relentlessly & tirelessly to ensure the system changes are carried out seamlessly in an agile manner.

Some of the major technology trends that are seeing a lot of interest from real estate companies are the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. Major tech giants have been investing heavily in these technologies over the past few years and this year may witness some sort of monetization for them. Blockchain technology will be of keen interest to most of the companies as Govt is also looking at exploring this technology to drive digital era. As put forth by our Finance Minister in his budget speech, “Distributed ledger system or the blockchain technology allows organization of any chain of records or transactions without the need of intermediaries. The Government will explore use of blockchain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy.” It would be interesting to see if we are getting closer to a ‘Digital / Smart’ contracts world. In certain parts of US, in States like Arizona & Vermont, there has been increasing admissibility of blockchain records for legal purposes and it creates the opportunity for smart contracts to be used for transactions involving high value real estate transactions. Recently SBI announced the launch of Blockchain enabled Smart Contract and Know Your Customer- Bank Chain.

Creating an enriching customer experience has always been a priority for all businesses and for real estate firms it deserves special attention because of two main factors, first is the value of investment is very high and secondly the time period between initial customer acquisition to actual delivery of product ranges anywhere between 2 to 5 years. While the occurrences of repeat customer may be few, strong customer referrals and recommendations make a solid case for providing great customer experience during the journey from “Booking to Handover and beyond”. It’s heartening to know that even the Govt. is keeping up with the technology trend. Excerpts from Budget speech – “Global economy is transforming into a digital economy thanks to development of cutting edge technologies in digital space – machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things, 3D printing and the likes. NITI Aayog will initiate a national program to direct our efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications” Certainly all these technologies are relevant in real estate sector also and early adopters will definitely gain competitive advantage.

Internet of things will be revolutionizing technology as far as real estate is concerned. Due to over obsessive use of call centers, people today prefer text or even an email over a call (cold) from an agent. With the use of beacons / IOT devices information about a home can be transmitted to anyone passing nearby. Modern age mobile apps can help share the information with prospective buyers about the projects within the close by vicinity while they are on move. IOT can immensely help in improving operational efficiency by reducing machine breakdowns through sensor based preventive alerts and real time monitoring of remote sites from safety perspective.

We have been hearing about ‘Smart Homes’ for quite some time but till date it is considered to be luxury and only for upmarket projects. This year we may see a transition towards ‘Affordable smart homes’ equipped with smart lighting and smart devices. There has been a considerable increase in the popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home & Apple Home pod which allows users to control smart devices through voice commands. There is a new member in the family in so many homes today i.e. Alexa and this millennial generation loves giving commands to this member like “Alexa, please switch on the lamp”. All the smart device makers are rushing to make their devices compatible with these AI (Artificial Intelligence) enabled smart speakers.

Authored by Vineet Bhardwaj, Head IT, Godrej Properties

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