Rapid urbanisation, climate change and scarcity of resources, coupled with global trade wars have had and continue to have an unprecedented impact on human lives. These changes have compelled us to develop and embrace technology, which combines data and analytics.
Recent technological innovations have helped in providing solutions, which support our natural and built environment. These innovations have not only superseded but also disrupted the bastions of traditional and archaic systems that were being used to conduct business within the realms of the built environment -- not just globally, but also locally. And the effects of disruption have been fairly positive and evident to see.
However, while many other industries have kept pace with the technology revolution, realty businesses have been ‘a little late to the party’, so to speak. We are still seeing many players building or looking to upgrade their use of technology; while others are hesitant in spending resources for the use of customised applications. As a sector, we need to try and adopt more consumption-based models, rather than restricted-use technologies to build cost efficiencies.
The technology is ‘out there’ for use, we just need to embrace it more openly, in order to create efficiencies and work effectively. In the cases where technology is being put to use, it has exceeded expectations and delivered phenomenally. Proptech, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, drones, Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D printing are transforming real estate and the future is transpiring now.
Data and analytics need to be the bedrock of all realty businesses and Proptech can enhance real estate management (REM). It helps businesses be quicker, more effective and profitable; thereby increasing the efficacy of REM. RERA also already provided a fillip to REM, as it is turning digital with the intent to provide a common open national platform with an integrated ERP. This will support inter-operability and will make it easier to manage complex workflows, in a constantly evolving regulatory environment. Proptech will help RERA amalgamate documentation and collate it for easy access; encourage legal matters in compliance with due diligence; and expedite transactions and transfer of property. Robotics and Cognitive Automation fundamentally replicates human actions and perceptiveness at immense speed, scale and quality, all at a reduced cost and error. It will help businesses cut down on labour costs, without compromising on quality and precision benchmarks. It’s already being used for mechanical, repetitive functions like brick-laying and can greatly enhance productivity and operational efficiency. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a game changer. It has significantly altered the way buyers purchase and sells property. It is easing the challenges of finding, viewing, and buying properties. It enables agents to better serve clients, by way of delivering a frictionless experience when closing deals faster, with robust compliance checks and programmed data in place. AI-driven technology businesses do have a competitive advantage over others who fail to utilise it. It will also serve RERA in being more effective, productive and development oriented. Machine Learning uses algorithms to automatically pick relevant information from data, thereby effectively increasing the efficiency of buying and selling property. It can evaluate customer value; plan quicker closing cycles; anticipate market bubbles; carry out investor analysis and detect cash anomalies. It can further predict market value of a property, thereby negating a separate need for property appraisals or valuations. Drones are being extensively used for managing and surveying sites, especially those that have difficult terrains. They facilitate developers in mapping terrains and creating 2D and 3D images for accurate measurements. These are being employed to take pictures of properties for visual information that buyers can use, at reasonable costs Internet of Things (IoT) is another ground-breaking technology. It has helped create ‘Smart homes or buildings’ which integrate the physical and virtual world seamlessly, to deliver a futuristic customer experience. IoT is being used to create unsurpassed echelons of ease and convenience -- foretelling maintenance requirements; taking informed decisions through analytics; and increasing energy efficiency. IoT is making it so much easier to transact properties. 3D Printing is set to change the face of real estate in an unparalleled way. The technology will help in building houses that are fabricated -- faster, cheaper and safer. It is considered as a viable solution to address the housing crisis in developing countries. Given its cost-effectiveness, it is viewed as an affordable option for building homes in the EWS segment. Materials can be locally sourced, taking care of logistics and availability.
Given the constrained timelines in which real estate business is conducted, stakeholders will have to look at newer, better and efficient use of technology. Businesses should adopt BIM for design engineering, construction, construction management and design for manufacture and assembly (DFM). Additionally, there are a host of other more recent tech tools available that can effectively monitor and control execution of projects.
These technology innovations will precede effective planning in construction project management and construction management, leading to leaner construction, optimised cost value, better quality, and value engineered products. Therefore, the way ahead is to be agile and adapt or become redundant. Technology is here to stay and businesses have no choice but to embrace it.
Nimish Gupta is Managing Director at RICS South Asia.