Beyond the numbers: How data drives smart real estate management

March 01, 2018 by Sven Denecken, SVP product management and co-innovation SAP, S/4 HANA Cloud
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Beyond the numbers: How data drives smart real estate management

Industries, businesses and ultimately roles are changing. From manufacturing and the automation of manual labour, to accounting and the digital archiving of financial information – technology has been the true driving force of business disruption and making the once impossible, possible.

But with advancement comes higher expectations. Technology allows firms to extract valuable data from their organisation and use it to inform critical business decisions. In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, this is crucial in ensuring businesses remain relevant.
The next generation of real estate corporate management is a good example of this, where there is a growing need to be digitally savvy to ensure the right business decisions are made.
Traditionally, a real estate manager would have to physically go to each building and keep track of all requirements from space utilisation to energy usage, to ensure they provide a price that will keep their clients coming back and filling their offices year-on-year.
This becomes a challenge as their portfolio gets bigger, they are spread more thinly and budgets are put under increasing pressure. While their job at face value remains the same – to manage real estate – the tools to effectively achieve this are evolving. To efficiently manage day-to-day operations, it’s becoming increasingly important that real estate managers make sense of an ever-growing volume of buildings data – from energy usage, maintenance history, desk utilisation, as well as the significant massive amount of data generated by IoT devices.
To manage buildings effectively today, it is no longer enough for real estate managers to use data just as part of their due diligence for investment decisions. We are now witnessing a sea change for real estate managers and their adoption of data. They are using it to identify trends taking place in the workplace and how they can squeeze additional returns on the properties already within their portfolio.
For too long real estate has been a neglected pillar of corporate management, despite being the second biggest cost item on most companies’ balance sheets. Additionally, those people managing real estate — from CFOs, corporate portfolio and location managers to technical service providers – have had to rely on information siloes in spreadsheets and complex systems.
At present, it is estimated that space utilisation in London’s buildings is as low as 48%, according to the HOK Benchmarking Report. That is a huge amount of space that is going to waste across the city, which can count towards hundreds of thousands of pounds of lost revenue.
To drive business optimisation, building owners can achieve this through introducing processes such as hot desking. With agile and flexible working on the rise, the number of people working remotely is increasing, and technology plays a fundamental role in successfully monitoring movement and utilising space efficiently, bringing benefits for all parties.
It means real estate managers can make informed decisions on future space utilisation and design, while the real-time data available can make huge improvements to employees working in the building by reducing the time they spend looking for a vacant hot-desk.
This, coupled with monitoring systems that can detect if an area is in use or not, and adjust heating accordingly, means money can be saved and the environment can be spared the unnecessary energy usage.
To make this a reality, we have developed SAP Cloud for Real Estate, which is an operational and strategic management solution supporting real estate managers in running and optimising their corporate building portfolios. The system, which recently won the prestigious Red Dot Design Award, gives consolidated information on all buildings and answers key questions regarding space utilisation, facility costs, building portfolio, and partner collaboration.
It is this type of cloud solution which is needed today to disrupt slow and disconnected processes and leads the way to well-managed buildings – and to better working situations for real estate managers.
However, at SAP ERP Cloud we know that the digital era is constantly evolving and the fundamental role developers have to play in building innovation into a business and delivering meaningful and empowering digital change. This is why we developed our Software Developer Kit, which provides developers with all the tools they need to create and test customised, innovative apps and application programming interfaces (APIs).
If businesses and real estate managers are to embrace the power of data in building management, it is important that they work with developers to push the boundaries of innovation and develop tools to prosper in this digital world.
Employee productivity and corporate costs both contribute to a company’s overall success. Today, data drives decisions, and optimised corporate real estate management which embraces the digital age and the cloud will be the true winners.

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