Proptech refers to the application of technology to provide solutions and deliverables in the real estate sector. More precisely, this term is used for technology which is used to offer services in real estate to buy, sell, rent, develop, market and manage property in a more efficient and effective way. Proptech has revolutionised commercial office space in a big way! Here’s how:
Enhances workplace experience
Office real estate is at the forefront of business in India. The space has not just drawn fund houses but has also evoked interest among retail investors like you and me.
Moreover, the development of offices in the country has entered a new paradigm. As a result of the huge demand, commercial real estate commands a premium. It is an expensive commodity which needs to be utilised effectively. Hence, design of offices have evolved in the last few years and has positively impacted the office efficiency.
- A lot of forward looking tech organisations in India are experimenting with F&B tech or cafeteria apps for their large campuses employing thousands of people. This tech ensures a seamless cafeteria and food management experience for its employees.
- Several large and mid-tier organisations as well as developers in India have started to adopt a cloud and mobile-based visitor management system to optimise lobby operations, offer a smooth experience to visitors and keep the premises secure
- One of the biggest start-ups operating in the space of team collaboration is providing effective solutions for a connected workplace including solutions for desk and meeting room management, impacting effective utilisation of valuable space as well as increasing productivity at work.
- There are plenty of other examples where technology is helping create green, sustainable buildings optimising asset management through insights from IoT sensors.
Real estate or office buildings have moved beyond the realms of infrastructure to become strategic levers of driving workplace experience, talent attraction and retention. There is a plethora of opportunities to use technologies like IoT, AI and Machine Learning to drive efficiencies and deliver delightful employee experiences.
Every day, an employee interacts with multiple touchpoints with real estate in an office environment – from paring to cafeterias to meeting rooms etc. – there are a lot of opportunities at each stage of the life cycle to bring efficiencies through use of technology.
A number of areas have been addressed through proptech to improve productivity and efficiency:
1) Sensors track office usage and plan occupancy:
A majority of companies are concerned about the workplace management. Poor workspace management has been attributed to poor utilisation of the property. Use of sensors can help corporates to get an accurate idea of how their workplaces can be occupied in a manner to use the space effectively. This would also help them make better informed decisions. Start-ups like San Francisco based VergeSense provides a real time and historical count of number of occupancy, the ability to measure utilisation across facilities from co-working rooms, to private offices, to co-working spaces. Once it identifies open desks it dynamically assigns staff members to their desk and thus increases work place efficiency.
Moreover, virtual reality for occupancy planning and visualisation is being put in place to plan occupancy in advance. Here, technology is used to create a 3D, interactive simulated experience using computer software giving tenants the ability to visualise a place without ever stepping into it physically.
Within this space, another company Foyr provides immersive, data-linked customisable 360 experiences of interior and exterior spaces. Through their platform, an immersive 360-degree visualisation platform is used to help developers accelerate sales by giving prospects a life like experience of their future property.
2) Human experience applications offer convenience to tenants and employees
Proptech is also playing a part in enhancing human experience. Companies like Boston–based HqO are using an integrated tech-enabled mobile platform that connects tenants with their landlords and also with communities in and around their building, empowering them to control their work life better. In turn, landlords get valuable data on tenant satisfaction which helps them opti mise their offerings.
3) Tracks energy consumption and control wastage
Energy represents one of the key expenditures in a typical building. Here is where data driven energy managemen t is playing a big role. Companies like Ecolibrium Energy, an energy management solutions provider are helping corporates to monitor and reduce energy consumption by using IoT and AI based solutions. This leads to substantial energy savings and improved bottom lines. Many companies are working with big corporates to reduce their energy consumption and become more sustainable.
Ecolibrium offers an energy analytics Internet of things (IoT) platform called SmartSens. The platform enables commercial and industrial users to take operational decisions for optimising productivity and asset uptime through predictive insights, saving energy and asset maintenance spends.
4) Make occupancy process efficient
There are various as aspects to this:
(i) Legal tech: We have also seen the emergence of platforms that allow for standardisation of occupancy leases and efficient tracking. Standardised occupancy leases regulate the landlord-tenant relationship and protect rights of both parties. These aspects make it easier to address property disputes and bring down legal costs. These also help in tracking lease data, critical dates, financial obligations, documents and contracts.
(ii) Lean construction technologies: Building Information Management (BIM), a 3D model based solution gives professionals the insights and tools to construct, design and manage buildings. Digital Twins is an IoT technology that helps create a digital replica of a physical building. It creates a platform that captures every piece of data for the entire lifecycle of a building, helping them get real time alerts on energy consumption, location of people and structural defects.
Together, these allow for efficient fit-out management, tracking capital expenditures and carrying forward of data to the facility and property managers. Together, these technologies allow for efficient fit-out management, tracking capital expenditures and carrying forward of data to the facility and property managers.
Here, OpenSpace a player in the space of construction site data capture and analysis through photo representation needs a mention. Such data allows builders review site conditions at different periods of time in the past. Stakeholders can also conduct virtual site tours, communicate change orders and see the changes over time.
Proptech is also helping some of the disruptive formats of offices and have made some technologies an essential element of the construction sector. Co-working is one such disruptive format that has been scaling new heights in India. The space has gradually become popular among corporates.
With the growth in office leasing, use of flex spaces has become the new norm. Companies are increasingly trying to optimise their real estate portfolios in such a way so that they can retain and nurture talent and also remain agile in a rapidly evolving business environment.
Digital flex spaces platforms like Qdesq that have the ability to fulfil complex flexible lease requirements of corporates in India enable corporates to search for, sort and book a flexible workspace. This essentially means that they do not have to take the hassles of lease and brokerage.
Featured co-working partners, in turn, ensure that corporates’ requirement is met in a timely manner with customised options. A part of this is technology intervention at the workstations.
Adoption of technology in real estate is seen in the following key areas:
|Area of usage||What is happening||Benefits|
|Construction Technology||Developers are able to speed up construction.||Reduction in time and cost overrunsStructure developed is of superior quality|
|Project & Facility Management||Included across all asset classes, technology is being used from parking to pantry services to desk management.||Enhanced and improved experience|
|Facilities Management||IoT sensors, ML algorithms enabling more effective use of assets and space||Better employee experience-Productivity and efficiency-Space planning and optimisation driving cost savings|
|Real Estate Transactions||Technologies like Blockchain are ensuring transactions are seamless, secure and transparent||Reduced fraud and risk-Increase in transparency-Reduction in transaction time|
|Asset Valuations||Future property valuation aided by technology based on a variety of data sources being pulled together by artificial intelligence engines and machine learning to throw insights||Accuracy of valuations-Faster, efficient transactions|
Source: JLL Research
Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head – India, JLL