Last year, Deloitte’s real estate predictions spoke of various trends in the industry. A big focus was on Digitalization which is changing the real estate sector. Buildings will no longer be mere structures on the ground. They will eventually become smarter tools to deliver information beyond our expectations. Will this continue in 2019? It appears so.
Real estate (RE) companies are already applying Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in their daily business to boost the efficiency of their workforce (agents, customer service, legal etc.). However when it comes to actual management of properties, the trend is still nascent.
When compared to other industries, RE companies are not known for adopting technology early on. Many feel that RPA may be a technology of the far future or confuse it with some massive scientific equipment.
Actually, the idea behind RPA is simple: RPA, which is basically a software, automates manual, repetitive and rule-based processes and tasks. It is linked with end-user software like ERP-systems, MS-Excel, internet pages or email programs and then carries out manual labor-intensive tasks automatically exactly as programmed in its RPA-source code.
What are the key drivers of RPA in the future?
• The future importance of this function correlates with the increasing digitization of the real estate sector and the growing number of smart buildings. Currently, companies are struggling to make use of the masses of unstructured data produced by buildings and integrated technology.
• Also, the high number of data in different formats makes it extremely cumbersome to use the data. RPA will be an important factor for converting this data into relevant information. However, it cannot interpret the data by itself.
RPA with cognitive or artificial intelligence
Cognitive or artificial intelligence (CI/AI) expands the application from simple “following the rules” to judgment-based processes and predictive decisions called cognitive automation. Involving multi-dimensional data sets that may span across time horizons and geographies and include terabytes of unstructured data, those decisions maybe more accurate than any human being could ever make them.
The potential of RPA in Real Estate
Although the potential for this technology is already high, experts predict a strong development within the field of process automation during the next years in the real estate sector. In addition, investments in CI/AI are high and the smarter the technology gets, the more use cases will emerge. Therefore it is no question, if the technology will become more relevant in the future, it is rather, which companies will use it first to get a decisive advantage over their competitors by benefiting from efficiency gains, cost and risk reductions in the short term or – combined with CI/AI – even a real competitive differentiator in the long term.
Simply said, real estate companies can become more profitable if they choose their investments wisely with the help of information technology and predict market dynamics more accurately than before with the help of RPA.
Is there a tangible benefit for real estate companies?
Yes. The following are some easy examples benefitting hugely from RPA:
• Accounting department. Keeping track of all invoices, payments, renewals and credit applications which is often performed with a significant amount of manual effort.
• Extraction of data from various systems, structure and formatting those information and distributing the reports and making them available for download. Using RPA, this can be done for entire portfolios, administrative units or single facilities.
Especially for the real estate sector, there are far more areas of application that are currently not utilized, though. See below.
(Credits: Deloitte Real Estate Predictions 2018, 22/02 - Written by Hendrik Aholt and Volker Wörmann.)