Our industry is engaged in an important dialogue to improve sustainability through ESG transparency and industry collaboration. This article is a contribution to this larger conversation and does not necessarily reflect GRESB’s position. Please refer to official GRESB documents for assessment related guidance.
You’ve probably already heard of “digitalization of real estate”. But what is it all about? What is your current state of play? And what are the steps to be taken to achieve it? This article offers you a concrete 4-steps methodology to successfully digitize your real estate portfolio.
The digitalization of real estate, what is it?
The digitization of real estate consists of collecting and aggregating all the data that characterizes an asset during the different phases of its life cycle in order to make it available within a collaborative digital solution.
Why digitize your real estate portfolio?
As data is dispersed among the various players, business software and phases of the building’s life cycle, digitization becomes essential to make the information more accessible. In this way, you can guarantee the right level of information to the various stakeholders.
|Today, it is estimated that an Asset Manager uses on average between 5 and 15 business software applications daily. These are all data sources that must be identified and aggregated.|
In addition to enabling you to operate your real estate assets correctly, digitalization also makes it easier for you to take voluntary initiatives such as the GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) to enhance your extra-financial performance. Indeed, the answer to this assessment requires you to search for data in dozens of different software – HR information, rental statements, CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), supplier consumption data, etc. – which can quickly become a real conundrum and a waste of time.
How to successfully digitize your real estate portfolio?
One should not fall into the trap of setting a goal without even looking at the road ahead. Rather, you should do the opposite: look at the existing data sources of your real estate portfolio and then look at the means at your disposal to establish realistic and coherent objectives. Profitability means giving value to what you already have through a pragmatic approach! Why create data when you already have it? Teams can no longer manage the volume of data issued and analyzing it becomes very complicated.
|The value should be given to existing source/data rather than creating new data.|
To successfully digitize your real estate assets, you need an interoperable solution capable of collecting and aggregating data regardless of the formats, sources and actors who hold it. This makes building management easier and avoids losing data, for example when an asset is bought out or when the business software used is no longer the same.
4-steps data methodology
You may not realize it, but your real estate is already partly digitized! Indeed, a lot of information and data is available within your various business software and from your service providers, for example your energy suppliers or your maintenance staff.
Here are the 4 steps to follow to successfully digitize your real estate assets:
- Take stock of your existing data and missing data according to your objectives. You will then be able to identify the available data sources and determine how to find the missing ones (e.g.: retrieve missing consumption data directly from your supplier’s user account).
- Aggregate and harmonize all your data in a single solution to facilitate access to information and save time in their exploitation.
- Make your data reliable by assessing its quality based on its source and making sure you have complete data before using it.
- Cross-reference and analyze your existing data using appropriate tools to meet your objectives: setting up an energy management approach, regulatory compliance, ESG reporting, responding to a request from your Property Manager, taking voluntary initiatives to enhance the extra-financial performance of your assets, etc.
How to access / aggregate data?
The collection of data is more and more based on digital data flows:
- API (Programming Interface): interface of exchange between two machines allowing to recover data in an automated way
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol): communication protocol for file sharing allowing to copy, delete or modify files stored on a computer, from another computer
- Scraping: Extracting data using an automatic program or software
- Files: recovery of data directly from flat files such as CSV.
In a nutshell, the digitization of your real estate is already underway and the advantages are numerous:
- easier access to information for you and your various stakeholders
- provision of reliable information and time savings on a daily basis
- better monitoring of the operation and performance of your buildings
- creation of new opportunities.