How big data is transforming the real estate industry
By: Jayesh Maganlal, Chief Information Officer, DAMAC Properties and Elvid Muslim, Senior Director-Data, DAMAC Properties
The latest KPMG Global PropTech Survey shows that a growing number of companies in the real estate industry are embracing digital transformation, driven by the need for better efficiency, cost reduction and enhanced decision-making capabilities that will help the organisation become more agile to deliver better customer experiences and satisfaction.
Among senior executives surveyed from around the world, a majority believe that some of the key areas that are expected to have the biggest impact on the real estate industry over the long term include artificial intelligence (AI) and big data.
A transformative tool
Over the last few years, many data science applications and AI-powered tools have transformed a wide range of businesses and industries, including the real estate sector. Big data, simply put, are huge volumes of data that can be systematically managed to determine trends or patterns that can be leveraged for decision-making.
The use of big data tools, for example, can help developers better gauge the potential of projects, or enable agents and brokers to serve clients more efficiently. Even home buyers and investors can benefit from big data in their decision-making utilising sets of information that are free of clutter and redundancy.
While the ability to produce and handle a big volume of data is important, it is equally as essential to have the ability to convert that data into usable and user-friendly information.
In the real estate business, a practical application where data analytics is increasingly being used is in developing more accurate property valuations. In our industry, as most of our agents and brokers know, pricing a property correctly when it is introduced to the market means everything. Big data can help provide insights on thousands of comparable properties, instead of just a few, and can be harnessed to analyse market conditions and consumer profiles, among many other data sets, to establish property values more accurately.
The beauty of data analytics is that it can be predictive. Tracking demographics and employment trends, for instance, can help marketers of property developments predict consumer behaviour. Data can be used to filter hundreds or even thousands of leads. It can even be leveraged in the design and development of properties that are suited for a particular location or market segment.
There are also apps in the market that use big data to enable property investors to make informed decisions and forecast potential earnings from a property over a particular time frame, which takes a lot of guesswork out of the process, leading to more robust investments and returns.
Automation boosts manpower
Another aspect of big data-driven transformation that has truly changed the real estate industry for the better is the automation that the process entails. Previously, collating and comparing data points were done manually and was a labour-intensive process. Now, artificial intelligence tools are processing millions of data and turning them into more useful bits of information, much faster and more accurately.
With the process automated, real estate agents can now focus on more important aspects of their job such as enhancing customer relationships, or for property developers, they can adapt to changes in the market, armed with quality data sets, with more efficiency.
DAMAC has, for many years, been undertaking a wide range of digital transformation initiatives that have enhanced our operations and improved our customer-focus. One of these is the internal innovation and implementation of the cloud-based data lake, which now allows the company to analyse and optimise data processing times and ensures that it can proactively see any degradation in the processing time. The data lake ingestion framework also helps us to ingest data faster with lower efforts required and ensures data is more quickly turned into insights. It also helps provide visibility to data users, such as when data was last loaded, detect anomalies in the data processing time, number of record and other irregular cases. These have had beneficial impacts on the organisation in many ways but has specifically helped unify the technical development process and create a pipeline and centralised library that the company’s data engineers can draw from and reuse.
An early adopter
Among the early adopters of cognitive machine learning solutions within the industry is DAMAC, adopting Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology across core areas including finance, sales and IT. This has allowed the company to successfully reduce operational costs over the last few years, while simultaneously improving customer service and employee engagement, along with efficiency of core business functions.
As with anything that has to do with data, privacy and security issues come to the fore. Real estate companies using big data tools need to ensure they have a strong digital fortress that will protect the information that they have, for their own competitive advantage and to protect the integrity of the organisation.
The industry — indeed the entire world — is going in only one direction as far as data usage is concerned. Businesses must use data efficiently, ethically and effectively, otherwise they can be rendered obsolete.