Latest tech buzzwords explained – the commercial property perspective

As a commercial property agent, you know a good opportunity when you see it, you know how to close a deal, and you know how to keep your clients happy, but in the ever-evolving tech-driven world, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest tech developments and how they can help you do your job.

Here’s a few buzzwords you might have heard recently, what they mean and how they can help you succeed.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI or Artificial Intelligence is, in fact, technology that is able to learn. For instance, it can help organise routine maintenance, and identify the best service suppliers, so you can get on with more business-critical work.

AI is also the technology behind the chatbots you see on many websites now. In property, these chatbots will be able offer virtual tours and answer questions from potential clients, so could be hugely important when selling or renting real estate.

Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

Here’s where things get a little more futuristic. Augmented Reality (AR) is technology that allows you to overlay a computer generated enhancement on an existing building plan, or model. You can see where this might be useful, for example, when carrying out refurbishment plans or a makeover on a building or space. It allows viewers to imagine how the building/space will look when the project is complete.

Virtual Reality (VR), on the other hand, is a computer generated simulation of what one might experience within a particular environment. Here, some, or all, of the senses are stimulated, often in a 3D experience using a VR headset that allows participants to stroll round the environment. This can be useful for predicting flaws in existing building plans, for instance.

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The Gig Economy

There’s a lot in the news right now about ‘the gig economy’. The likes of taxi service, Uber, freelancing sites, and food delivery services are all good examples. Many of these rely on self-employed contractors, or people doing casual part-time work in addition to their ‘day job’ to make extra money. For employers, it means you only have to pay staff when needed and not during business ‘downtime’.

In commercial property, this could be a valuable source of low cost casual labour and services. Expect to hear a lot more about this in future.

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Space as a Service

It’s an emerging trend that some recognise as a new business model for commercial, and to some extent residential, real estate. The concept is to provide access to space and the benefits offered by the space on a subscription basis. This sort of arrangements gives occupiers flexibility and doesn’t tie them down to long contracts. They can use the space as and when it fits them without incurring high costs and with no strings attached to long leases. The mindset changes from ‘I own the right to use this space as my office’ to ‘I have the right to access this and other spaces included in my subscription’. It’s a business model championed by the likes of WeWork with their co-working and co-living. But that’s only the start.

Behavioural Targeting

Commercial property professionals are spending more and more time and money online carrying out digital marketing campaigns. One thing that can greatly influence the effectiveness of these campaigns is behavioural targeting. Using various techniques and technologies, you’re able to tailor ads in such a way that they become more targeted and personalised, based on user web-browser behaviour. By collecting data on the sites a user visits, how often they visit and how long they stay, for instance, marketers can build a profile of that individual and tailor ads to be more effective when they return to certain pages.

Return On Relationship (ROR)

ROR is similar to ROI (Return On Investment) in that it is the value accrued by nurturing a relationship with a client or customer. However, in this instance, the value isn’t necessarily measured in monetary terms. It’s all about creating intangible value through relationships, whether that’s loyalty, recommendations, or sharing on social media, that becomes a long term benefit to the business. The hope is this will eventually result in some form of financial return.

Blockchain

Blockchain is tipped to be one of the biggest influencers in commercial property over the next few years. Essentially what Blockchain does is allow value to be transferred safely and securely. You can think about blockchain as a ledger that is decentralised and stored on multiple computers. What’s more, Blockchain is completely incorruptible and, as well as help prevent fraud within the industry, will be driving force behind so-called ‘Smart Contracts’.

Big Data

Big data is what you’ll need to get the most from AI. Most of this data already exists in the cloud. All you need to do is find a way to get your hands on it through a service provider. Once you can do that, you can use this data for a wide range of applications such as calculating property values, pinpointing potential issues/risks in buildings, or to drive upkeep efficiencies.

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API

Application Programming Interface (API) is essentially a set of definitions and protocols for designing application software. It’s important because it allows two different applications to integrate with each other. It means you can feed data from one system to another with ease and flexibility.

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Marketing Automation

As the name suggest, marketing automation is software that automates marketing actions, which means you can get on with business while the software does all the boring repetitive stuff, such as email campaigns, social media and website updates - and tracks the results for you.