How digital transformation is shaping small commercial real estate companies and PropTech startups

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Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of a thriving economy and their importance cannot be overstated. Companies with 1 to 499 employees represent approximately 47.5% of the private sector workforce and are vital to the fabric of the local community. However, despite the sector to which they also belong, they have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

One of these industries is commercial real estate. Small real estate dealers, homeowners who relied heavily on client visits and one-on-one relationships to do business suddenly had to transform their business model and offerings. While this could mean instant investment and a shift in traditional working models throughout the year, on the other hand, it has resulted in rapid digital transformation, which was not possible otherwise, and has led to the rise of PropTech – or real estate technology.

Various technologies such as virtual reality for site visits, robotics for cleaning services, digitization and automation of processes through software based on artificial intelligence are now shaping the PropTech industry and will continue to do so. do long term.

Online listing of properties

Companies that followed a traditional brick and mortar model to finalize the sale of properties have moved their offerings to the digital world. It is one of the biggest and most common digital disruptions that has been widely embraced by owners of property rental and property sales businesses. Residential and commercial real estate properties are featured on websites using photos and videos. Services are further refined with filters such as location, price range, and transit-oriented development.

3D scanning and virtual reality for real-time spatial visualization

As social distancing has now become the norm to reduce physical transmission, PropTech companies are increasingly turning to 3D scanning of the home and surrounding location to ensure that personal touch. To make the huge investment decision, clients prefer to investigate the location first hand before finalizing the same. Therefore, virtual reality is exploited to provide a realistic visualization of the property. In addition, CRE companies can make personalized changes to the environment based on customer preferences.

Automation of robotic processes

With COVID, safety and disinfection has been the key factor in curbing the spread of the virus in the surrounding area. However, manual cleaning and disinfection can leave room for neglect. In commercial spaces that offer spaces rented to several tenants, disinfection is becoming more and more important. This is where the automatic robotic process is gaining ground. This is the case in China, where robots are used to clean the surroundings of the building. The Gaussian company, which is a startup, has already deployed cleaning robots and recently received funding to expand its operations

IOT and biometrics applications

For remote monitoring of buildings and properties (under construction), companies take advantage of IOT applications such as sensors (water, utilities and environment). In addition, the use of biometrics which uses facial and voice recognition technology is being leveraged in entry systems to reduce human contact. Data collected from sensors and biometrics sends data stored in the cloud remotely to property owners on their monitoring dashboards. This has proven to be effective as it reduces maintenance costs and triggers timely alarms in the event of an unprecedented situation such as a fire.

Process digitization software and platforms

The need to reduce the level of on-site personnel has shifted to the introduction of software and platforms that can help automate routine tasks. To reduce human intervention and teleworking, building occupancy management software, accounting software management, service monitoring platform via IOT sensors and online no-write, transaction close-out and naming rights service delivery platforms are shaping the industry. Most of this software is now supported through cloud services, reducing the risk of losing key data.

Digital twin and modular construction

The construction of buildings has also been strongly impacted due to a pandemic which is currently interrupting the majority of projects. To overcome this problem, building replicas are created using digital twin technology to speed up the design phase and gain approvals. The design thus approved using the digital twin is then developed using prefabricated construction methods also known as modular construction. This means that the actual construction of the segments is done off-site with less labor. These segments are then installed on real sites to reduce human intervention. Technology and innovation in construction have together provided benefits to CRE construction companies by helping them maintain construction momentum.

Go forward

For small businesses that rely heavily on traditional business models, digital transformation will continue to be a game-changer. While these high-end innovations can turn out to be expensive because they involve huge investments, adequate financing can be obtained from fintech companies that offer loans at lower rates. Additionally, with an increasing emphasis on PropTech, several startups are coming up with new innovations that will marginalize demand and costs, leading to greater adoption.


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