Developments in tech tools for commercial real estate have been coming hard and fast for the last few years. Adoption of commercial real estate technologies improve efficiency, accuracy, security, access, and transparency.
CRM platforms have become an essential tool for handling contacts, scheduling, transactions, and property management tasks. They streamline routine processes and enable customer service to reach levels that weren’t possible before.
Big data offers a wealth of practical applications for increasing productivity and efficiency in commercial real estate. This Forbes article makes a clear case for the critical advantages that can be found in the masses of data that we generate and to which we all have access.
Data is only useful if you understand it and can explore relationships and effects. In some cases, it may be worthwhile to employ data visualization services. These help clarify conditions in a given market and helps us to identify trends. This sort of service converts spreadsheets into a more digestible format that is also interactive and ready to share with clients.
In addition to software tailored especially to the CRE industry, there are specific technologies that are coming into wider use in the business, providing new ways to communicate effectively and new sources of data for better decision-making. These are part of what is called the “Internet of Things,” in which devices communicate with each other, sharing and aggregating original data that combine to create a richly detailed picture- of specific properties, markets, or demographics.
Virtual Reality and 3D
One of the more futuristic technologies that’s becoming widely used in CRE is virtual reality (VR). This is used to create a customer experience that is as close to a physical tour of a property as we can get today. Services like Foundry 45 are blazing a trail and expanding our idea of how VR can be used. One avenue for innovation seems to be in ‘augmented reality,” through the use of headsets, like Hololens.
Digital tools are available that provide detailed 3D models of properties, and create digital floor plan templates that allow for very accurate planning and can be shared in an instant. Sites like Floored also offer interactive 3D models, video fly throughs and other digital experiences.
Sensors and Smart Buildings
We think of sensors as little assistants that can be stationed at a given location to gather information, non-stop, with little or no supervision. Sensor technology is becoming an important source of data in CRE.
City planners have known for years the value of understanding pedestrian and traffic patterns in a given location. This information is very valuable in planning for optimal use of a space and for ensuring public safety and convenience.
The real estate industry, particularly the retail segment, has begun to apply this technology with great results. The actual hardware is very inexpensive and simple to set up. Support for these devices is provided by services like Motionloft, which also gather and aggregate data Property owners or managers can access this data at will and send useful reports to tenants and potential investors.
Other smart building technologies can help save electricity and lower expenses. One such company is Genea which automates afterhours HVAC and lighting use. Their technologies can be controlled through their cloud application from any device.
Drone footage is a visually striking way to present information and is changing our ideas about property tours and site selection. Also called “unmanned aerial vehicles,” drones can be used to photograph properties from previously unavailable viewpoints. A new, clearer perspective on building size and location, as well as proximity to transportation and other facilities is available through the drone’s camera.
The FAA continues to develop regulation for the commercial use of drones. Currently there are limitations on use of devices weighing more than 55 lbs, as well as how high they are allowed to fly. There are only to be flown in daylight, and always within sight of the operator. Small inexpensive drones can be useful for individual firms, but a more elegant and comprehensive solution can be found with companies like Spark Aerial, which specialize in creating amazing marketing pieces for a variety of industries.
This is just the beginning of what we’re capable of in the commercial real estate industry. What technologies do you have on your “must watch” list?