ShelterBox Spotlight

Since 2015, Yardi has been a supporter of ShelterBox, a crisis response non-profit that assists globally in natural disasters, war zones and other crises. Last month, Yardi awarded ShelterBox a $100,000 grant to support the organization’s response to the war in Ukraine. The funds are being put to immediate use on three vital projects. Read on to hear the non-profit’s story and learn about volunteer opportunities. ShelterBox responders coordinating distribution to refugees from Ukraine. Photo courtesy ShelterBox. An Organization Overview ShelterBox President Kerri Murray visited Poland, near the Ukrainian border, during the early weeks of the war and was struck by the outpouring of support for refugees from throughout Europe. Individuals were arriving in their own cars, having driven for hours, to offer transport and refuge in other countries. “It’s really profound, in the midst of all this heartache, to see things that make you really hopeful,” said Murray. “In the worst of times, you often see the best of humanity.” She was also struck by the sadness exuded from the refugees who had to leave loved ones, especially men of age to serve in the military (ages 18-60), behind in Ukraine. “I noticed that people were not relieved. Even though they were now safely in Poland, their families were ripped apart.” ShelterBox staff and volunteers are no strangers to these situations, as they have contributed support to more 2.5 million people during over 300 crises in nearly 100 countries since the non-profit was founded 22 years ago. “As a humanitarian aid organization that works globally, we’re trying to tackle one of the biggest issues that’s plaguing our world, and it’s the massive displacement of people,” Murray said. Including the conflict in Ukraine, more than 119 million people are currently considered displaced, more than any other time in recorded history. “These include victims of violent conflict situations, like we are seeing in Ukraine, civil war situations, and then disaster situations. It could be earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes – any events that have forcibly displaced people from their homes,” Murray said. Prior to the war in Ukraine, ShelterBox was responding in the Philippines to the aftermath of Super Typhoon Rai, which decimated homes and displaced millions in December 2021. The organization was also continuing its ongoing response in war-ridden Syria, where it has served continuously since 2011. Recipients of a ShelterBox kit in Malawi after flooding there in 2015. Photo courtesy ShelterBox. “It’s this kind of quiet work in conflict situations that are the reason ShelterBox has now been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Murray said of the Syrian efforts. “The essential premise behind the organization is that we provide the things that you need to sustain your life if you lose everything in an instant, and you’re forced to flee your home.” Supporting Ukrainian Refugees The United Nations estimates that 12 million Ukrainians have been displaced because of the war, with 7.7 million remaining within the country’s borders. The organization was prepared for the conflict with advance assessment work, something they attempt to do in any country where there is a potential for conflict. Learning from its experiences in Syria and other conflict zones, ShelterBox knew that the most effective response strategies would be the most portable. Its three projects in Ukraine include the following: Mattress distribution to provide refugees on the move with a comfortable place to sleep. “These are for people who are cycling through the collective (refugee) centers, so they’re not sleeping on floors,” explained Murray. Thousands have been used over the last five weeks, and are returned after use so that they can be distributed again.Shelter-in-place kits for Ukrainian homes that have been damaged by bombs, customized to regional needs. These include tarpaulins to cover roof or wall damage, basic tools and building supplies, as well as solar lights, water carriers, thermal blankets, and hygiene kits. “It’s a very customized bespoke kit based...

Human Touch Trumps Hype Apr28

Human Touch Trumps Hype

Should we be snapping up land in the metaverse? Splashing out on virtual real estate? Should we jump onto the next big thing for fear of missing out? Or should the real estate sector be more skeptical about technology? These were some of the questions Yardi’s Bernie Devine and JLL’s Jordan Kostelac explored in the latest instalment of the Yardi Proptech Insights series. As JLL’s director for proptech in the Asia Pacific, Kostelac is focused on turning one of the world’s biggest real estate agencies into a technology company that specialises in real estate. Kostelac’s job is to “separate the wheat from the chaff” to uncover the technological solutions that will improve efficiencies, enhance human experiences and create new value. Technology’s main goal is disintermediation or, as Kostelac says, “to get rid of the middleman.” But JLL has a 250-year history as an intermediary that strikes deals and supports operations, Devine noted. “To survive, agencies need to move to a substantially a tech-driven platform where the human touch that agencies bring is amplified, and delivered even better, even smoother and even faster.” But does that mean JLL will be building software to sell? Creating the software to support better internal processes? Or something else entirely? “All of the above – but none of them yet,” was Kostelac’s response. JLL is investing in core technologies to improve workflows and deliver efficiencies across the business. There is no replacing a good broker, the pair agreed, but technology does allow brokers to automate tedious parts of their job so they can focus on relationship building. JLL is “fighting over the trophy fish” of premium and A-grade leases. But these only represent a fraction of the market and in the hybrid world of work, “A-grade real estate isn’t the only real estate that will matter,” Kostelac said. Flexibility will drive demand for lower grade stock so businesses can distribute their networks and create authentic experiences. “It’s more than CBD concentration in the future.” A bigger market requires better access to data, Devine observed. The conversation turned to the metaverse and the challenge of separating overstatements and obfuscation from real estate reality. “The idea that buying virtual real estate now is like buying real estate in Manhattan 250 years ago is just crazy,” Kostelac laughed. But “FOMO – the fear of missing out – eats due diligence for breakfast.” The ’fake it until you make it’ mindset is embedded in Silicon Valley culture and “there has to be some science fiction otherwise there’s stagnation,” Kostelac added. But now the metaverse is emerging as the ‘next big thing,’ Devine noted. “Blockchain and smart contracts and virtual real estate… I’m still a bricks and mortar guy, because you can’t copy and paste Times Square ..The price of real estate is driven by scarcity. But virtual real estate has unlimited supply.” Kostelac pointed to Hong Kong and Sydney – where he and Devine were located – as two illustrations of why physical real estate has value. These cities boast two of the deepest harbours in the world. We can’t “program” 39 billion years of evolution into a metaverse. But in the metaverse, “assumed scarcity can simply be overwritten by a single line of code.” “We are looking at threats where they aren’t there. And opportunities where they aren’t as well,” Kostelac noted. But the stakes aren’t just economic – we have the looming existential threat of climate change as a reality check. What is the solution for a sector susceptible to chasing hype, Devine asked? “It’s very simple. Show me the evidence,” Kostelac concluded. Watch the latest instalment of Yardi’s Proptech Insights and register for our next session, with Proptech Association Australia’s founder Kylie Davis,...

Yardi Canada R&D...

Last fall, Zach Scott, vice president of programming for Yardi Canada, provided our readers with an illuminative look at the role of his engineering team on Yardi’s most cutting edge product offerings. In the research & development realm, progress moves fast, so recently we brought Scott back for an update on project progress and current initiatives. Let’s kick it off with machine learning, which is now being practically applied to multiple Yardi products, with more to come in the near future. Zach, tell us about machine learning’s role in the Yardi Full Service PayScan experience? Scott: On this machine learning test, we have almost 200 clients live. So far this year, we have processed 1.3 million invoices. We went from 290,000 invoices per month in January, to 390,000 in February, to 450,000 in March. We’re anticipating growth to 600 clients by mid-year. This has been a huge success. What machine learning does is automatically extract a half dozen key fields from the invoice image, such as invoice number, date, property details, vendor info, phone number, email address, and more. It pulls all of that directly off the invoice. The overall accuracy is typically around 75 to 80 per cent. How about the use of machine learning in the Yardi Marketplace on-boarding process? Scott: When new vendors are onboarded into Yardi Marketplace, it often means uploading massive spreadsheets that contain more than 20,000 product barcodes (SKU). Before machine learning was applied, this was a manual process that meant personnel were sorting through every SKU to place them into three categories. That means 60,000 category assignments had to be manually selected. This used to take weeks to complete. Thanks to machine learning, we can now categorize 20,000 SKUs in about 15 minutes. After that initial sorting,...

Aid for Refugees

Yardi will contribute $1 million to the relief efforts of non-profit humanitarian aid organizations working to assist and support Ukrainian nationals displaced by the war between Russia and Ukraine. “We are heartbroken to see the events happening in Ukraine, and as we hope for swift peace, we will be doing everything we can to help our neighbors,” said Bianca Geomolean, director of human resources at Yardi Romania. The United Nations estimates that over 3.7 million people have left the country because of the conflict, and up to 10 million are displaced within Ukraine. Many evacuees are attempting to reach neighboring countries, including Poland, Romania, Hungary and others. The United States announced today it would accept 100,000 refugees. Funds donated by Yardi will be distributed between the following organizations: UNICEF, the Romanian Red Cross, Direct Relief, ShelterBox, and five NGOs that are based in Romania: Fundația Regală Margareta a României, Dăruiește Viață, CERT Transilvania, Beard Brothers, and O Masă Caldă. “One of Yardi’s core values is to take care of the communities where our teams live and work. This time, this extends beyond the borders of our country,” Geomolean said. “We stand by Ukraine and its people, we stand with humanity, with freedom and with peace. We wish that our contribution will bring relief and a bit of hope to those in desperate need of it. Together, we are #EnergizedForGood!” UNICEF focuses on vulnerable refugees In Romania, UNICEF is supporting the Romanian Government, local authorities, UN agencies and non-government organizations to monitor the inflow of Ukrainian refugees and offer immediate support for urgent needs. UNICEF’s response focuses on establishing and operationalizing Blue Dots at the border crossings. Blue Dot locations are dedicated refugee children and family support hubs. They represent an integrated model that will provide support for the most immediate needs of children and women. Blue Dots will offer integrated services in child friendly spaces with a focus on the most vulnerable refugees, as well as assistance with family reunification and communication, information/advice desks, dedicated mother and child areas, psychosocial aid, hygiene, first aid and more. Blankets, warm clothing, health and recreational kits along with hygiene products and baby food will be available in Blue Dots as well. “UNICEF is working day and night to scale-up support for children and women affected by the escalating conflict. There are already three Blue Dots functional at Sighetu Marmatiei, Siret and Isaccea providing support to those crossing the border to Romania. Other Blue Dots will be operationalized in the following days,” said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative to Romania. UNICEF in Romania has launched an online appeal to raise funds for children’s needs affected by conflict in Ukraine. Personal donations can be made here. A portal for corporate donations is also available. ShelterBox sends humanitarian supplies ShelterBox, another organization Yardi has previously supported, is working on three projects – two within Ukraine and one to support refugees fleeing to neighboring countries. ShelterBox USA President Kerri Murray recently traveled to Poland’s border with Ukraine and met with refugees. Photo courtesy ShelterBox. Refugees from Ukraine in a temporary shelter. “ShelterBox USA is deeply grateful for Yardi’s contribution,” Murray said. “This charitable support will enable us to deliver critical relief supplies to Ukrainians who need them most. When I was working in Poland on the Ukraine border, I met with women and children who had to travel for days by foot, bus, and train flee the violence, many of whom had to leave members of their family behind to fight. Yardi’s support is critical to helping us provide essential aid to those families.” “Yardi values our long-term partnership with ShelterBox, a fellow Santa Barbara organization with a strong commitment and proven track record for assistance in disaster relief around the world,” said Arnie Brier, Yardi senior vice president. “We are reassured to see ShelterBox involved in supporting Ukrainian refugees during this devastating crisis.” ShelterBox provides humanitarian aid in...

YASC GLOBAL

Yardi held three days of educational online programming for clients March 8-10. This year’s digital Global Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC) focused on how technology can help meet the needs of today’s real estate industry across multiple verticals. More than 15,000 Yardi clients worldwide attended the three day event, and viewed more than 300 classes covering all aspects of Yardi’s technology offerings. More than 100,000 classes were attended over the the three days. In today’s challenging economy, efforts to automate and improve processes wherever possible can help overcome staffing challenges. Yardi executives showcased the company’s multiple product suites during overview spotlight sessions, which can be of tremendous help for business efficiency. Read on for some of the highlights. Meeting the changing needs of commercial clients Perhaps no real estate sector has experienced more changes during the pandemic than commercial real estate. Many offices have sat dormant for months or more while employees worked from home. The retail and restaurant landscape has been altered greatly. And the industrial and self storage sectors have seen a huge boom in demand. More than two years since the first U.S. lockdowns, impacts are being observed across CRE, said Yardi senior vice president Rob Teel. “I spend a lot of time with our office clients, executives and users of Voyager and our commercial product suite. It is true that vacancy is starting to creep up. Occupancy numbers are hipping a little bit – though not as much as people thought would happen during the pandemic.” As a result, creative owners and managers are exploring alternative uses for office space. They include coworking, either self-managed or working with a partner, which the Yardi Kube suite is perfectly positioned to help manage. Others are turning to mixed use, which opens the...

Innovation Acceleration Mar17

Innovation Acceleration

New Zealand’s property industry has accelerated its investment in technology in response to Covid-19 and embraced new systems and processes at a faster rate than its Australian counterparts, according to a new report. Despite this, six in 10 respondents to a survey conducted by the Property Council of New Zealand and software company Yardi still depend on spreadsheets to assess the performance of their portfolios. The survey of a senior cohort from New Zealand’s property industry sets a data baseline for what is expected to be an annual investigation into attitudes and actions influencing property technology, or proptech. “Property is New Zealand’s largest industry, generating 15 per cent of our economic activity, nine per cent of jobs and contributing more than $41.2 billion to GDP,” says Property Council New Zealand Chief Executive, Leonie Freeman. “But until now, we’ve lacked access to information which sheds light on the market saturation and acceleration of the digital tools that drive value in this important industry.” Almost two thirds (64%) of survey respondents said technology would play a pivotal role in reshaping their real estate portfolios in the next three years. And 95 per cent said the disruption of Covid-19 had driven adoption of digital technology. More than two thirds (68%) are now using Cloud-based productivity suites, for instance. Eighty-six per cent of respondents thought New Zealand trailed the rest of the world for tech adoption – despite being further advanced than other markets in many areas. For example, 77 per cent of Kiwi property companies use specialist accounting and finance system, compared with 22 per cent of Australian companies. “Kiwis are always looking to work smarter, and being small, lean and agile means we can pivot quickly towards new ideas and innovations,” Freeman says. Yardi’s Senior Regional Director Bernie Devine agrees. “The Covid-19 pandemic has taught New Zealand’s property leaders to prepare for ongoing unpredictability with new systems and processes that simplify complexity and enable flexibility.” Survey respondents noted business process automation (41%), big data analytics (27%) and artificial intelligence (18%) as the three technologies most likely to be adopted over the next three years. “This survey gives property industry leaders a clear sense of where they stand and exposes areas for investment and focus,” Devine adds. “Property leaders have emerged from the crisis with a new understanding of the role of the technology and we can expect investment to grow dramatically in the next few years.” “This report sets a baseline which demonstrates New Zealand’s property industry is proactive and positive about technology and adoption. Technology is now at the core of every successful property business,” Freeman concludes. Download the Yardi / Property Council Proptech...

Proptech Investment Mar14

Proptech Investment

More than three quarters of Australia’s real estate companies think technology will play a big role reshaping their portfolios over the next three years. Despite this, more than half of respondents to the second annual proptech survey by the Property Council of Australia and software company Yardi still depend on spreadsheets to assess the performance of their portfolios. The survey undertaken in November of 176 senior industry professionals – 92 per cent holding mid-level management positions or above – reveals the biggest barrier to technology adoption. Changing existing behaviour came in first, at 24 per cent, surpassing resources, costs, time or confidence in a project’s success. Just under half (49%) of respondents think Australia is trailing the rest of the world in proptech investment – up from 30 per cent in 2020. But Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison says the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant catalyst for change and digital transformation is underway across the industry. “The property industry has embraced new technologies to maintain business continuity and ensure the health and safety of workplaces during the pandemic,” Morrison says. “Now leaders are turning to technology to address long-term structural challenges like climate change, to respond to investor demand for real-time reporting and transparency, and to enhance the experience for people who live, work and play in buildings.” Yardi’s Senior Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Bernie Devine, agrees. “The pandemic has taught us the world is now consistently inconsistent. Leaders have learnt that preparing for ongoing unpredictability requires new systems and processes that can simplify complexity and enable flexibility.” The survey found business process automation was the technology most likely to be adopted over the next three years, with 32 per cent noting it was on their real estate radar. This was followed...

4 Big Questions Mar11

4 Big Questions

What are the biggest, boldest questions that everyone in real estate needs to answer? Last year, guests on Yardi’s Proptech Insights program shared their secrets to navigating the complex proptech ecosystem. Bernie Devine, Yardi’s Senior Regional Director, asked a lot of questions – and our guests offered many insightful answers. But to kick off 2022, Bernie and guest Adam Beck turned the tables by posing four provocative questions for the region’s property leaders to ponder over the year ahead. It’s a unique idea. But Devine and smart cities champion Adam Beck are unique thinkers. Beck, an urbanist who has championed smart and sustainable cities for more than 25 years, was most recently the Executive Director of the Smart Cities Council for Australia and New Zealand. He was also the architect of the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Communities rating tool and has just launched a new platform, Urbanism.Live, which explores the edges of digital, data and urbanism. The edge of digital, data and urbanism are exciting. But Yardi’s latest research report, developed in partnership with the Property Council of Australia, found around half of Australia’s property companies are still reliant on spreadsheets to assess the performance of their portfolios. What is the barrier stopping these companies from moving beyond Excel? “Tech and data are not the challenge or the barrier. It is the people behind the tech and data,” Beck told Devine. Some quarters of the property industry are stubbornly resistant to change, but Beck – “the eternal optimist” – said big obstacles have been overcome before. Take the built environment’s response to sustainability. “It was considered too costly, too risky.” Fast forward 20 years, and markets now place a premium on green buildings. But this time, we don’t have 20 years,...

Transforming the Tenant Experience Feb18

Transforming the Tenant Experience

Over the last two years, the value equation in commercial real estate has continued to evolve. Four walls and functioning systems were once enough for tenants to sign long leases. Now experience is everything. Bricks-and-mortar is only as valuable as the experience it can deliver. This was one of the clear takeaways from the latest Yardi Proptech Insights webinar, hosted by Yardi APAC Regional Director Bernie Devine. In the sixth and final edition for 2021, Devine sat down with Chris Brooke for a chat. Brooke has spent more than 30 years looking at real estate from multiple angles. He led CBRE’s consulting across the Asia Pacific and in 2019 was the global President of RICS, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. An independent director of LINK REIT, one of the largest real estate investment trusts in Asia, Brooke is currently advising several property technology start-ups, including Proxy, which creates mobile-based identity technologies, and smart parking platform  Kerb. Commercial real estate was already heading down the innovation route on the technical side of buildings before Covid-19 upended the world, Brooke said. The pandemic has since forced a fundamental re-examination of commercial real estate. If work can be undertaken anywhere, what is the role of the office? Enter the experience era, where the office is the centre of collaboration and connection, teamwork and training, superior engagement and spontaneous exchange. But stepping up to support the experience era brings with it complexity and a range of big questions asked – and answered – during this proptech deep dive. How will proptech evolve in 2022? Proptech remains “highly fragmented,” but we can expect “consolidation, integration, aggregation” in the next 12 to 24 months, Brooke said. Why? Because landlords are no longer interested in fragmented single solutions. They know they need to build an ecosystem of engagement and experience for a diverse and dynamic list of stakeholders. As the commercial real estate sector grapples with how to consolidate all those individual great ideas into an integrated solution, the landlord and tenant must work together and collaborate effectively, Brooke noted. Who will take charge of the tenant experience? Where once commercial real estate was founded on a relationship between landlord and tenant, now landlords must also consider the needs of their tenants’ employees, customers and visitors to the building. “The spectrum of stakeholders has really expanded,” Brooke observed. Tenant customers are also exposed to multiple overlapping brands, Brooke added. The brand of the building itself is the obvious one. But there’s also the portfolio brand of large landlords, the agency brand of the property manager and the employment brand of large occupiers. “Whose experience do you want tenants to have?” Devine asked. “And what’s the value of making that decision?” Landlords are now tasked with integrating several brands into one tenant engagement app while respecting individuality and navigating data security, ownership and privacy. At the same time, such engagement platforms need to be integrated with employee experience initiatives being developed by major occupiers. How will we value tenant engagement? Bernie has watched the real estate industry’s level of investment in technology, as a percentage of revenue, “ever so slowly creep up.” But the market is still telling landlords to “do better.” Is it simply a matter of “show me the money?” It is difficult to apply traditional cost benefit analyses to weigh up the value of investment in tenant experience technology, Devine noted. “How do we measure the return on investment? Is it tenant satisfaction, stickiness or longer leases? Is it product differentiation? Did you get that outcome because of the app or was it another market influence?” How will tenant expectations evolve? Covid has driven a “flight to quality,” Brooke said, both in terms of physical buildings and the service offering and amenities provided by landlords. In the quest for quality, tenant experience apps are becoming “table stakes” for large owners. The challenge? To...

Epic Disruption Feb17

Epic Disruption

Big data, artificial intelligence and business process automation may be real estate industry buzzwords, but property companies should start with small data. That’s the key takeaway from the latest Mingtiandi-Yardi proptech survey, which captured the insights of senior leaders from across Asia. Yardi and Mingtiandi first teamed up to track changing attitudes to proptech in 2017. Since then, we’ve captured the accelerated adoption of technology to guide data-driven decision-making, transform business processes and enhance the experience for people who live, work and play in buildings. But we can see that pockets of the real estate industry remain stubbornly resistant to change, and some leaders continue to rely on ‘gut feel’ to make decisions. As one business leader told me recently: “I didn’t need data 20 years ago to make decisions, and I don’t need it today.” This ‘digital divide’ is very clear in our survey. For instance, nearly a third (32 percent) of survey respondents expect big data analytics to have the biggest impact on Asia’s real estate sector over the next five years. Conversely, 33 percent of property companies are still using spreadsheets for accounting, benchmarking and performance analysis, 26 percent for budgeting, 28 percent for valuations, and a massive 46 percent to manage their portfolio financing. Of course, there are some companies that are investing in technology and data at speed. But there is also a propensity for property players to throw around the ‘big data’ buzzword, when they should be focused on getting their simple back-office functions in order. Why, when the data clearly shows a growing gap between the leaders and laggards, are some companies choosing not to invest? The simple truth is change is hard work. Resistance to change remains the biggest barrier to proptech adoption across the region,...

Complexity and Challenge Dec11

Complexity and Challenge

The real estate sector is busy repositioning portfolios, pivoting into new sectors and pouring money into proptech. But will it be enough to meet the elevated demands of building customers in the post-pandemic world? This was the big question behind Bernie Devine’s latest Yardi Proptech Insights webinar. In the fifth instalment of the series for 2021, Brian Sutherland, vice president, commercial at Yardi joined Devine, regional director, APAC, for a chat. Sutherland started his own e-commerce company at age 16 and today is responsible for leading commercial sales and marketing for Yardi across the United States. Sutherland is passionate about the power of technology to enhance engagement and bring asset owners closer to their customers, and his insights were fascinating. Office landlords have enjoyed a clear advantage during the Covid-19 era, Devine and Sutherland agreed. Long leases have given them the luxury of time to consider the future carefully. Tenants are on a “flight to quality,” want shorter and more flexible leases, and are scrutinising sustainability attributes of space, they noted. In response, building owners are amenitising their assets, Sutherland said, to create spaces that facilitate “culture, coaching and collaboration”. This presents new revenue streams, and Devine pointed to a clear trendline towards non-rental revenue growth. “But more services mean more business processes and more complexity.” Office landlords can learn much from the retail sector, which had already faced a tidal wave of disruption from the e-commerce titans, and which had reacted and repositioned assets before Covid-19 hit. In some cases, the pandemic’s reclassification of retail as an essential service had been an advantage, Sutherland said. Some malls continue to struggle, but others are adapting rapidly to the new normal and transforming empty space into distribution hubs and last-mile delivery centres. Sutherland mentioned the local Urban Outfitters store in Santa Barbara, Calif. (where Yardi is headquartered) which now has staff members packing boxes in store – “something we haven’t seen before” but is necessary as competition with Amazon heats up. Retail is often set up for dispatch and delivery and “retasking spaces” for last mile distribution made perfect sense, Devine added. But, again, this repositioning and retasking adds complexity. A new philosophy – one that prioritises user experience – was emerging, Devine observed. “I often like to say a building is a device.” But seeing a building as a device requires mobile-led solutions. A flood of money is streaming into tenant experience apps. HQO raised $60 million in funding in April, while VTS acquired workplace experience platform Lane for $200 million in October. These are just two examples. There is a lot of curiosity from landlords about how apps can make their assets perform better.  “Are they going to be able to produce more yield of have a better experience in their properties?” Yardi’s team is thinking hard about this question. Yardi’s tenant app, which currently has 75-plus active asset owners, is currently being expanded to address how employees, vendors and even visitors connect with the app when they enter a building. What does the future look like? Sutherland believes the office’s outlook is bright, but he can’t see “expectations around the experience within a building” abating. That requires a far greater investment in technology – and in “platforms to support and facilitate a positive experience with the physical environment.” Now is the time for landlords to listen to their customers and “to really push new ideas within their properties,” he...

Building Experiences Dec05

Building Experiences

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, may have been attracting headlines for the eye-watering sums splashed on digital artworks and virtual land. But behind the hype is a digital key that can help the real estate industry create better experiences in their buildings, foster engaged communities and, ultimately, unlock new value. Mars House, a digital home designed by Toronto-based artist Krista Kim, sold for more than half a million dollars in 2021, changing the way we think about virtual real estate. By the end of the year, a virtual plot of land in online world Decentraland had sold, using an NFT, for a record $2.4 million worth of cryptocurrency. A lot of folks in the real estate sector have made the mental leap and are looking at how NFTs can support fractional ownership and debt financing. But to my mind, what’s even more exciting is the role of NFTs in the future of the workplace. A “non-fungible token,” as the name suggests, is a unique digital item stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain. Ownership of an NFT is easy to certify and transfer, which is why they are being used to tokenise unique items like art, collectibles and real estate. But NFTs can be a bridge between the digital and physical worlds. NFTs can be used as tickets or membership cards, giving people access to events, experiences, products or discounts. Imagine attaching an NFT to each service in a building? Think treadmills in the office gym, entry to Friday night drinks on the rooftop terrace, discounted movie tickets at concierge or yoga class reservations. Each unique NFT can connect a smart building to smart contracts to provide smart services. This idea may sound revolutionary, but it is simply another evolution of the office. The...

Transparent Data Nov24

Transparent Data

How will transparent data revolutionise real estate? This was the underlying question for Ben Robinson, CEO of Raffles Quay Asset Management in Singapore, when he sat down with Yardi’s Bernie Devine recently for the latest instalment of Yardi Proptech Insights. Ben oversees the largest integrated mixed-use development at Singapore’s Marina Bay. In real estate terms, One Raffles Quay and Marina Bay Financial Centre constitute 4.5 million square feet of prime Grade A office and 179,000 square feet retail space. In human terms, the precinct is usually the workplace of 26,000 people. Four years ago, RQAM realised digital technology was the key to engaging with this 26,000-plus workforce. “We had no brand with the individuals who worked in our precinct, and we needed to communicate with them directly. That’s where we started our digital transformation,” Robinson says. By the Bay was launched in 2019. More than a tenant app, By the Bay is also a booking system for RQAM’s BaySpace flexible workplace solution. It is a connector that gives people access to BayFit exercise classes and education. It is a platform to support BayDine and the array of food and beverage options, rewards and discounts at Marina Bay. And it puts BayGreen, with information and ideas to live and work more sustainably, into the palm of people’s hands. Fast forward to 2021. With just 15% of people at their desks each day, due to work-from-home orders, By the Bay has proved an invaluable tenant engagement tool. Among the current benefits are mindfulness classes, a national steps challenge, complimentary gym passes and health assessments, as well as dining vouchers and exclusive perks. “We’ve got a great playground at our disposal,” Robinson noted. By the Bay supports RQAM’s vision to deliver “premium” hospitality experiences, Ben added. By the Bay’s digital access controls, for example, not only allow occupants to enter and exit their building safely in a few smart phone clicks. People can also invite guests into the space, which means concierge can “come out from behind the desk and act as experience ambassadors” rather than “taking numbers and handing out cards.” By the Bay’s anonymised data, complemented by data from building information systems, is stored in a data lake dubbed BayWatch. The data lake will take time to fill, Ben said. Understanding future trends is dependent on a solid history of past data. But with the right tools, we can “forecast the future of space – and this is something we haven’t been able to do before,” Devine added. Devine, who is responsible for Yardi’s growth in Asia, said the pandemic had forced a rethink of how people use space right across the region. Real estate organisations now realise they aren’t space providers – they are service providers, he said. “I’m seeing base rent as a percentage of total revenue getting smaller – not because base rent is going down but because the proportion of value add is increasing.” “But that brings complexity” and demands more sophisticated back-end systems. Yardi is on a journey of “connecting the property to the business,” Devine added. In June, Yardi acquired UK-based Forge Bluepoint, a cloud-based visitor management solution that connect turnstile, elevator and parking data to other Yardi platforms, like its all-in-one co-working management system, Kube. While RQAM expects some “rationalisation,” Robinson does not predict a “significant” drop in space requirements. Tenants will be looking for more room for collaboration and projects, for example, and will need more overflow space on peak days of the week. This is where BaySpace can step in. BaySpace is more than a flexible workspace offering. It is an “enterprise solution” that can support tenants with everything from fully-designed and fitted space to financing, Robinson noted. RQAM’s analytics capabilities already provide rich insights into this flexible workspace offering and “forward indicators of growth and contraction requirements are going to be very powerful.” Robinson suggests starting with “quick and dirty...

Post-Pandemic CRE Priorities Nov19

Post-Pandemic CRE Priorities

Canadian commercial real estate tenants and investors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in tracking their assets. Their inquiries are expanding beyond payments and quarterly reports. The overarching theme for the next six to 12 months will be environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices supported by reliable data. To remain competitive, property owners, operators and landlords must take these priorities into account. Upgrades drive ROI An emphasis on healthy workspaces will be a principal legacy of the pandemic, prompting owners and occupiers alike to prioritize such things as HVAC upgrades and touchless restrooms. Many owners are seeking WELL Building Standard™ and Fitwell® certifications, which bolsters facilities’ current status while preparing for potential future virus-related health emergencies. Significant ROI is possible by attaining one of these building certifications, with studies showing that effective rents are between 4.4% and 7.7% higher per square foot for properties that hold them. Such certifications also help satisfy health and well-being concerns among asset and fund-level stakeholders, apply to international assets and contribute to GRESB scores. Tech enables workplace flexibility, energy intelligence With almost half of working Canadians wanting a flexible work schedule and guaranteed safe return to the work environment, corporate tenants and property owners will be seeking platforms for office hoteling to aid with occupancy management. These mobile solutions help organizations streamline communication, enforce capacity limits and allows staff to reserve their desks in advance, in real time. This increased transparency can enhance the employee experience and boost workplace confidence. Similar technology on the marketplace includes ESG-related tools with energy intelligence and automation capabilities that gives operators and maintenance teams real-time access to building performance metrics. These features help staff reduce operating costs, promote efficiency and improve occupant comfort from anywhere. By monitoring HVAC investments and sending automated notifications directing staff to address potential equipment failures, such systems can produce average HVAC energy savings of 5-10%. The investor’s stake These new capabilities are as important to investors as they are to landlords and tenants, according to a  CBRE report on investor strategies. They’re weighing amenities connected to health, safety and shift flexibility more heavily in their investment decisions. ESG also carries more weight in investment decisions, with investors recognizing its impact on energy costs, insurance premiums and other operational elements. That will prompt more investments in capital needs to make buildings more resilient. Investors also increasingly expect on-demand access to key metrics, capital transactions, documents and reports. Similar to energy management platforms, investment managers can leverage a single connected suite of solutions to gain a comprehensive view of investment performance and improve collaboration among property operators and investors. Learn how Yardi solutions for flexible workspaces, energy management and investment management meet and centralize the needs of property owners, tenants and investors of today and...

Change Management Nov05

Change Management

An amalgamation of several housing firms presented a unique challenge for one of Canada’s largest social housing providers. Each faction brought its own technology, workflows and data. After nearly two decades of managing disparate systems, it was time for a change. Host Tarun George, manager of Strategic Partnerships and Development, Ontario Non-profit Housing Association (ONPHA) led the Rethinking Social Housing Technology webinar. He was joined by panelists Luisa Andrews, vice president, Information Technology Services, Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) and Nick Davis, vice president, Professional Services, Yardi. The group discussed the challenges of bringing outdated systems into the modern age of integration, automation and simplicity in social housing technology. United but disparate TCHC was founded in 2002 after the amalgamation of other housing organizations. To manage its 110,000 residents across more than 2,100 buildings, TCHC relied on a piecemeal arrangement of technologies. At that time, employees struggled to see an integrated picture of the new organization. Over the next 16 years, frustrations mounted over inefficiencies and inconsistencies. Andrews joined the organization in 2018. She noted, “at that time, the technologies didn’t meet our emerging needs, so TCHC worked with developers to create custom solutions. There were a few attempts at accounting upgrades but there was no application portfolio strategy.” Andrews’ mission was to bring change that would help the organization thrive. Transformation begins at TCHC TCHC intensified its search for integrated and scalable property management technology. TCHC identified Yardi Voyager Social Housing as the best fit for their accounting and operational needs across their entire organization. To simplify their energy management strategy, they selected YES Energy. Adapting RentCafe Social Housing’s tenant portal, which would meet residents’ expectations for virtual communication and rent collection, is in TCHC’s future vision “It wasn’t just a tech transformation....

Canada Checks In Oct18

Canada Checks In

Want to know what Canadian tenants want? Results from the sixth Multifamily Tenant Preference Survey are in! Yardi Canada is a proud sponsor of this annual survey that garnered feedback from more than 36,000 tenants. Survey results were presented by Amy Ericson, Global President, Avison Young Investment Management. Her presentation offers the inside scoop on the features and amenities that are worth your investment. Understanding what tenants want, made easy Multifamily Tenant Preference Survey responses represent a nice blend of tenants, with over half of the respondents seeking homes in urban areas and the remainder in outlying areas. Let’s start with the basics. Inside a unit, tenants’ three top preferences include: Elevator AccessBalcony/ Private Outdoor SpaceAbundant Natural Light To find their ideal units, over 50% of the respondents found their rental unit through electronic means such as an ILS or property website. About 70% of renters visited the landlord’s website, and almost half said it influenced their decision. Once on the site, they checked out available photos, floor plans and tour options. Though 60% of tenants are interested in virtual tours, they still want to visit units in person. Tenants want fun close to home Commutes are a thing of the past. Tenants want to be close to the action. This reflects the returning trend of the 15-minute city and may inform future property investment decisions. On-premises programming is in high demand. Renters wanted events and activities within their communities. There is no need to guess what type of programming they’re into. Respondents’ top preferences still surround health and wellness. Such programming is a terrific way to build a sense of community amongst neighbours, a key retention strategy. This helps to fill a void that many renters felt: about 40% of respondents wanted an...

Evaluate to Innovate Oct13

Evaluate to Innovate

What’s the best way for a real estate company to flex its innovation muscle? Robust evaluation. That’s the key takeaway straight from two property technology specialists, Cromwell Property Group’s Sean Rowe-Hagans and Yardi’s Bernie Devine. Devine, regional director for Yardi in APAC, caught up with Rowe-Hagans in the latest installment of Yardi Proptech Insights. The series dives deep to get beneath the surface of property technology. Unzipping efficiencies As Head of Enterprise Architecture and Innovation, Rowe-Hagans has been driving Cromwell’s culture of problem solving through technology for more than a decade. Established in 1998, Cromwell has grown from a small Australian property syndicate to a real estate investment trust with 3.4 million square metres across three continents. Cromwell has a razor-sharp focus on operational efficiencies, and technology and data play a big part in unzipping those efficiencies, Rowe-Hagans noted. But Cromwell adopts technology sensibly and strategically – and the secret is to start with business strategy. “You have to identify a gap before you go looking to fill it with technology,” Rowe-Hagans observed. Cromwell doesn’t currently have too many gaps to fill. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t do things better,” Rowe-Hagans added. Technology should be evaluated “almost as if you are a venture capital firm”. Do your due diligence or risk a big “technology debt,” Rowe-Hagans advised. “You don’t want to be driving down that road, especially if your strategy is efficiency.” Cromwell’s short-term strategic focus may be on efficiency, but its long-term lens is pointed on “business resilience” – and that means thinking “not just about how our buildings run but about how our business runs.” Unpacking the business case Building a business case before a big technology implementation is often the easiest step, Devine observed. That is, until two years later, when it’s time to assess the benefits of a technology investment and “no one knows what it has delivered.” Rowe-Hagans, who spent many years in IT project management, agreed. “The bit after the implementation is the tough bit.” That’s when resources and focus fall away. “Without careful management or monitoring, within two years of that implementation the system will be costing you more than you even began to imagine when you were running that evaluation.” Cromwell assesses “not just reactive risk but also future risk,” Rowe-Hagans said. This means more than going with a gut feeling and a lot of time investigating global megatrends and materiality matrices. “We are really interested in that long-term vision – not just plugging a hole for the now.” Technology implementations are also evaluated against the user experience and how it will be maintained throughout its lifecycle. “Smart” organisations appoint “process champions,” Devine said. Others often “neglect” technology after its implementation. “But it’s like a marriage. If you don’t invest in the marriage, it falls apart.” The real estate industry’s challenge is to be both reactive and agile – and that means each player must think big picture. “It’s about the ecosystems we are trying to build in this technology world – and that’s not just about Cromwell. It’s about all of us as an industry.” Building the ecosystem Rowe-Hagans gave a tip of the hat to Yardi for its role helping to build the ecosystems that each sector of the property industry needs to thrive. Yardi’s work capturing the lifecycle of a building – from leads to when a tenant leaves – was case in point, Rowe-Hagans noted. The real estate industry is starting to come together to collaborate and connect around data governance and sharing. “But it’s not there yet,” he added. The challenge ahead, nevertheless, looms large. By 2025, according to Yardi’s most recent whitepaper, the world will be generating an astronomical 175 zettabytes of data. This is “too many zeroes,” said Devine. If each bit was a coin, one zettabyte of coins in a stack would reach to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, 600 times....

Stronger Together

In Germany, an estimated 51% of men and 43% of women will develop cancer during their lifetime, reports medical research firm Bristol Myers Squibb. While the number of survivors is steadily increasing, so is the number of incidences amongst people of working age.  One non-profit organization helps families cope with cancer diagnoses to develop greater preparedness, resiliency and hope. Clarity, communication and community at Flüsterpost e.V. Flüsterpost e.V. (Whisper Mail in English) supports children whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer. This is done primarily through counseling for parents, which coaches adults on how to handle the diagnosis with their young family members. Pictured from left – Anita Zimmermann (Founder of Flüsterpost), Bärbel Welches (Yardi), Dirk Kolbe (Yardi) Karin Burchardt (Flüsterpost), Kathrin Stahl (Yardi) and Denis Litke (Yardi). The counseling sessions encourage open and honest discussion within the family. Through discussion, families can address or resolve issues and mitigate additional psychological and physical stress for the youth and young adults in the family. Additionally, children get the chance to learn how to deal with crisis situations in a capable and self-efficient way, thus strengthen their resources and resilience.  Family counseling is supplemented with additional research and resources. All services are confidential and free of charge. Clients can access services in person, by phone, email or via social media. Youth also have access to play therapy. At the center, kids can play instruments, explore the arts, participate in equine therapy, and so much more. Each activity is crafted to provide emotional support through self-expression and energetic release.  Flüsterpost e.V.  + Yardi Yardi is a proud sponsor of Flüsterpost e.V. Team members from the Germany office visited the site to learn more about the organization. Yardi team members Bärbel Welches, Dirk Kolbe, Kathrin Stahl and Denis Litke explored rooms that...

Exceptional Resident Experiences Sep23

Exceptional Resident Experiences

Get Living creates exceptional communities and neighbourhoods across the United Kingdom. Places where people can live their best lives, homes they feel they belong in, and communities they can connect in with people. The team at Get Living understand the important role technology plays in connecting residents to their communities and that delivering exceptional resident experience goes hand in hand with adopting efficient technology. We caught up with Chris Armstrong, Chief Experience Officer and Steven Osei Head of Brand Experience of Get Living to ask them how they use Yardi’s technology to improve resident experiences and business processes. “We’ve been working with the team at Yardi since 2016/2017, using a wide variety of the solutions they provide, across the entirety of our estate. We invested heavily into Yardi’s solutions to help us grow as a business and to really deliver consistency of experience,” commented Chris Armstrong. Osei expressed that since utilising Yardi’s technology, the team at Get Living have been able to reduce the steps in the applicant journey by 300%. He also explained the importance of adopting technology to achieve Get Living’s growth goals, “As a growing and scaling business with the aspirations of having 12 to 15,000 homes it’s imperative that we have the tools in place that enable us to display real time availability of homes that we have available”. Armstrong also commented that over 4,500 of their residents are registered on the RentCafe Resident App which has given their residents the platform to interact with them on a 24/7 basis, “It’s always there for them, it’s always on.” Armstrong explained that they monitor resident satisfaction by surveying residents using the resident app; freeing up their teams to focus on hands-on customer service. “The best technology is the technology that you don’t know is there, it fades into the background. That’s why we work really hard with Yardi as a partner to make that technology seamless and easy for our teams and our customers to use.” As well as explaining how Yardi’s technology currently benefits their staff and residents, Armstrong also detailed future adoption plans which will see improvements in procurement process and allow for more flexible leasing with Yardi’s technology. Watch the...

Driving for Net Zero Sep22

Driving for Net Zero

Every single person in Lendlease’s 11,000-strong team has their sights set on net zero emissions by 2025. It’s a huge undertaking – one which will be impossible without the help of technology and data. This puts Richard Kuppusamy and Helen Lam – two of Lendlease’s digital leaders – in the driver’s seat as they help steer their company towards Mission Zero. Bernie Devine, regional manager for Yardi in Asia Pacific, recently caught up with the pair as part of the latest installment of Yardi’s Proptech Insights series. A big pivot Lendlease must meet its first net zero target in four years – an aggressive but “very deliberate” decision, Kuppusamy told Yardi’s audience. “Everyone who is in Lendlease today has to deal with this problem,” he emphasized. And it’s a big problem for everyone in the real estate sector, given the global built environment is responsible for almost 40% of the world’s emissions. But Lendlease – which designs, constructs and manages buildings on four continents – is in a rare position of influence across the entire development lifecycle. It is for this reason that Lendlease’s technology strategy is watched by the entire industry with interest. Kuppusamy joined Lendlease in March as Head of Lendlease Digital Asia and is based in Singapore. He oversees leadership, management and performance of Lendlease’s digital business unit across the region – and that includes Lendlease’s new property lifecycle platform, Podium. Podium links everything from building plans and construction programs to the results and realities of operation. It is the foundation of autonomous buildings, he noted. Podium supports data-driven decision-making “at every touch point” of the property lifecycle and is the key to economic and environmental sustainability. With Podium, Lendlease is “pivoting” towards a future as a “software engineering firm,” Devine observed. And that means data is now one of Lendlease’s greatest assets. Data rich, insight poor Globally, the real estate sector remains “data rich and insight poor,” Richard observed. “There are a lot of solutions, but they are all very siloed.” How do we dismantle these silos and unlock the “proprietary data jails,” as Kuppusamy called them, for a greater common good? “It’s not just about sharing – but about sharing in a meaningful way.” The industry must move away from technology that solves “spot solutions” or “siloed problems,” Helen added. “In real estate there are no silo problems – they are all interrelated.” While many systems capture data, only “actionable insights” deliver value, Kuppusamy said. Devine agreed. “I always say to our clients: ‘We deliver actionable insights, but it’s up to you to take action.’” As Head of Innovation and Development Practices in Asia, Helen Lam is responsible for identifying new ideas to be researched, tested and integrated into the way Lendlease works. One of the projects currently underway is to eliminate diesel – which is “really dirty, noisy and hazardous” – from construction sites. “We don’t have the inhouse tech to solve it all ourselves,” so Lendlease is partnering with an Asian start-up with an advanced compact and connected lithium-ion battery system. The technology eliminates 80% of onsite emissions, “is much quieter and emits zero fumes,” she explained. Data can also aid “macro decisions” that deliver a better experience for people, alongside those that are best for the planet, Lam added. Lendlease has installed Internet of Things technology in restroom facilities in retail malls across Asia, for instance, to better understand peak loads. From this data, Lendlease has enhanced the customer experience, while also “making better procurement decision around our contract negotiations and reducing operational expenditure.” Self-driving buildings Devine pointed to the use of digital twins as another tool that can help the real estate sector move towards net zero. In May, Ernst and Young reported that digital twins could save up to 35 percent on project and building costs and reduce city-level carbon emissions by between 50 and 100 percent. Lendlease has...