Creating a data-driven culture within Real Estate.

There is a common understanding within the Real Estate business that a great potential lies in digitalization and getting the data put to use. The buzz in Real Estate is about the opportunities to change the business model from just renting out space, to also include add-on offers that increase customer satisfaction and extend the profit for Real Estate companies (win-win) But how do you do it and why is it so hard to get started?

The importance of change management

You cannot keep on doing the same things in the same way as before, if you want to achieve something new. To be able to evaluate and understand the data from your buildings and your customer behavior patterns, you will need to train your employees. You will need to let people in your organization explore and try out new ways of working, to be able to identify opportunities within the data, identify new business models and follow up on your progress.

When becoming data-driven, you normally work with 3 basic steps; Technology, Business opportunities and People. All three steps are important, but sometimes the focus is more on Technology and Business opportunity, rather than on People – even if it is the employees that will make the actual change.

If you think about it, this really makes no sense, because it is evident that people, i.e. processes and culture need to change for you to truly be data-driven!

So let us focus for a bit on people and why change management is important if you want to be data-driven.

Facts and theory

Some facts need to be clear from the start:

  1. It is people, i.e. your employees, that need to work with the changes
  2. Changes takes time, it is a process that you need to understand and work with

In the 1960s Elisabeth Kübler-Ross presented the Change Curve, a model originally developed to explain the grieving process. And guess what, this model also applies to all types of changes that are happening, both positive and negative. The fact that something ends and something begins, is the core of this model. It describes both the feelings and the anticipated outcome during the process. Your employees will struggle with the change at first and you as a company will lose pace at some point in time and you have to understand that during a period you will not be as productive as before. The emotional state and the effect have to go down before it can turn up again and before you can gain from the change itself. The change process takes both time and effort, but if you are aware of the process and the constraints, you can be prepared and push the process onwards.

Change is done by people and all changes go through the change curve in some way. It is important to understand that something has to end and there will be a transition period, before you can start the new beginning and see the true results of the change!

The change process starts with shock and denial. It sounds brutal, and in some sense it is. Something that is familiar to your people is about to end and this affects everybody in different ways. It does not hit all people equally hard, but it affects us all. It is natural to human nature to keep on doing what is known to us and it is natural for us to fight back to keep what we have. When the realization hits your employees, the slope goes down and it can go very deep, resulting in low mood and low energy. After the end phase, there is a transition phase where the bottom is reached before it can go upwards again. In this stage, you need to be very supportive and acknowledge the feeling and guide people through by including them in the process. Eventually, the emotions will go up, and with the right guidance, your employees can tackle the situation, decide to move along and even engage with the change. In the New beginning phase, you can anticipate the positive effects of the change, but to reach this stage, you need to work hard and be consistent. There is always a setback risk when someone is staying or moving back to the previous stage and not moving forward. This is why it is important for you to monitor and encourage development.

Understanding and working actively with change

Organizational change is vital for Real Estate Businesses. But if you do not understand the change process, perhaps you try to move too fast, are too outcome-driven, and are not sufficiently consultative in your approach. You need to engage and motivate your employees in the process to get a full impact.

If you want an organizational change to be a success, you need to look upon it as more than “just an implementation of a process”. It is one thing to do the right thing with the data and has a strategy to be data-driven, but the change management process is equally important to be able to become truly data-driven. Your management team needs to include the emotional side of the equation and understand that employees resist change because they believe they will lose something of value or fear they will not be able to adapt to the new ways. It may seem obvious to everybody that e.g. a change of system or start using data will be beneficial, it will save time and you will be able to explore and collect even more data, but it is not that easy. It is important to remember that it will be a significant change to the employees’ daily routine, which is deeply emotional because it threatens their level of safety and security. That is why employees need to be included in the process, to feel that they are in control.

 

Manage a change process

Here you are as a Real Estate company, and you have a lot of data, and great ideas to create new business models. So, what does your employees need, besides from getting access to data, the right training and the budget to implement the new ways of working?

  • They will need to be included in a data-driven culture, where the goal is clear and where it is ok to explore and try-as-you-go.
  • They will need to know that this change will take time and that you are determined to make a change.
  • They will need to be involved early in the process, to be able to move quicker through the change process.
  • They will need to be guided through the change curve and be able to trust you to back them up when the reality of the change hits them hard.

Remember to be patient! And note that even if all employees are going through the same change process, they will all do this at a different pace. Some will move quickly, some will take more time in each step, or even stop or move backward at some point. If you can identify the early adopters, who are moving quickly through the change curve, you can make them your ambassadors and let them help you guide their co-workers.

Conclusion

When implementing a data-driven way of working, the change management process is as important as technology and business focus. However, it is often the part that is overseen.  If you want to keep on doing what you are doing, you do not need to work with change management, but if you want to create real impact for the future, you will have to focus on people, processes and culture!

The way we work with our projects at Stratiteq, is to always look at both the strategy and the technology; this is in our name and our legacy! Because we know for a fact that we reach true impact when we make sure that data can be used and when the people who use the data is on board as well. Good luck with your changes and do not hesitate to reach out if you want to know more about how we can make change management a true success for your business.

Pernilla Klein
Industry Lead Professional Services/Real Estate
pernilla.klein@stratiteq.com
+46 (0)73 661 21 35