Democratization of data within Real Estate
Data within a Real Estate company is often locked inside a system or only used in specific processes, rather than being available and used in the business process where it belongs. It is hard to become data-driven without democratizing the data within the organization.
If you google “Data Democratization”, you will find that this regards the process of making data accessible to users within a company, without having to ask the IT department for help. This means that correct and relevant data is available for the employees that need it when they need it. You need to provide the employees with the right tools and train them in Data literacy, i.e., how to interpret and use the available data. And if you do, you empower your employees with the possibility to act upon the information and make smart decisions.
This should be straightforward, right? You would think that this is high on the agenda in all companies. So how come our trend-spotting states Data Democracy as one of the biggest challenges within Real Estate?
This could be explained in the three components of Data Democratization; Data Access; Data Literacy, and Data Tools
The challenge of Data Access means that the data often is locked up within an old legacy system. Many Real Estate systems are not designed to provide sufficient documentation or send and receive data to and from automated real-time processes within the organization. Without access to data, the employees can not use data to make decisions.
The challenge of Data Literacy means that the employees do not understand the data, and they are not trained in how to define different measurements and/or KPI’s. Without an understanding of the data, the data itself is of no use.
The challenge of Data Tools means that no system can visualize and process the data at hand. Spreadsheets only take you so far. Without the right tools, the usage of data is limited to the manual work that each employee can manage.
The possibility of democratization within Real Estate lies within tackling all the components, simultaneously since one does not work properly without another.
The first action of providing Data Access should be tackled by setting up a proper data layer with collected information from the different systems that hold data internally. The legacy of an old Real Estate system could be less noticeable if the data is stored in a proper way in a modern data warehouse. Make sure that you aggregate the necessary data to be able to switch between the different detailed levels and make it possible to spot trends over time, without needing a data scientist to prepare the data. When you have the base with it also important to provide access to every single employee within the company. Do not make your employees ask others for data that they need, make it possible for them to retrieve the data themselves. And if the specific data need is on a regular basis, the information should be automated to be able to save time and minimize the risk of manual error.
Data Literacy should be tackled by setting up clear rules and definitions for your data internally and by training your employees to handle the data available. If you want to become truly data-driven and unleash the power of data, you need to engage your organization in understanding and using the data properly. The collected data from the buildings could mean the difference in the long run. Once the information is shared by many, the co-operation could start, and you will see the effect in productivity.
To tackle the component Data Tools, you should make sure that you have access to dashboards and visualization tools that give the best user experience. It should be a system easy to understand and if it is compatible with the other systems used by your employees, you will have a winner! Also, the possibilities of AI and Machine Learning should be a component in the mix of using the information within Real Estate. The right tools could shorten the time spent on gathering information, doing the analysis, and presenting the results. You could go from days to hours or even minutes when it comes to investigating an issue and presenting a solution. This will gain the company’s overall performance, as well as the employee’s experience.
All three components of Data Democracy can be solved one by one, or simultaneously. Since they are dependent on each other, the recommendation is to investigate the possibilities of solving the three areas in parallel. This requires a clear strategy, as well as technical skills and change management processes.
Pernilla Klein is a Business Consultant working at Stratiteq and specialized within Real Estate, where she is facilitating workshops in order to fulfill the needs of the client’s data-driven solutions. She is passionate about combining strategy with a technical solution and the insights you get if you combine your customer feedback with internal/external data. Extracurricular; she is often seen attending live concerts with some obscure post-punk band (that no one has heard of).