Middle East Update

By on Feb 16, 2016 in News

Editor’s note: The following interview with Aditya Shah, Yardi’s Director for Middle East Operations, recently appeared in Gulf Property magazine and is reprinted here with permission.

Yardi Systems, a US-based large asset management and property management software solutions provider, now has more than 1,000 commercial properties, 50 shopping malls and 50,000 residential units using its software in the Middle East.

Aditya Shah, right.

Aditya Shah, right.

“We have grown 30 percent in the last ten months alone,” says Aditya Shah, Director for Middle East Operations at Yardi Systems, told Gulf Property in an exclusive interview.

The company has signed up with Mall of Qatar last month to automate the mall’s property management and accounting system with Yardi Voyager 7S, the company’s new mobile-enabled, label-compatible software as a service property management and accounting platform. Mall of Qatar will have over 5.4 million square feet of built up area, more than 500 retail units, over 100 dining operations, a 5-star hotel and more than 7,000 car parking spots when its construction is complete in the third quarter of 2016. It will host an estimated 20 million visitors in its first year.

Since its founding, Yardi has set the standard for real estate software solutions with a combination of responsiveness and technical innovation. In an interview with Gulf Property, Shah detailed Yardi’s activities in the region.

Gulf Property: Could you share with us the number of Middle East properties that are currently under management using Yardi’s solutions?

AS: Yardi has a broad range of clients that manage a cross section of asset classes that include, but are not limited to, residential office, and retail.

There are approximately 50 retail malls, 1,000 commercial properties and over 50,000 residential units that are currently managed on Yardi solutions across the Middle East. These include some of the largest retail malls in Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai.

GP: How big is your customer base in the Middle East?

AS: Our growth in the Middle East has been substantial in the last three to four years and in the last ten months alone we have grown 30 percent from last year.

The majority of the larger real estate groups use Yardi solutions to manage their portfolios and these include Better Homes, Cluttons, Dalma Mall, Emaar Malls Group, Hyatt Plaza, JLL, Majid Al Futtalm Properties, Mall of Qatar, Select Group, SouqExtra!, SinoGulf Investments, and TDIC.

GP: Could you also share with us the changing patterns in asset management and how technology helps in this shift?

AS: The shift in real estate to utilize technology to enhance the management of assets has been gathering page for a number of years now.

There are of course some patterns that are specific to residential and others specific to retail. What is certain though is that more and more real estate companies are now seeing the value of technology and how it can benefit not only the running of day-to-day operations and the reduction of costs, but how they evolve their real estate strategy as a whole – whatever the asset class.

In an increasingly competitive environment, the need to drive tenant and residential loyalty and inspire investor confidence is a key part of maintaining a thriving asset management model. The web based, mobile ready solutions that are available today are helping managers dedicate more time to driving value and revenue through a broader range of more competitive services across the whole real estate lifecycle.

GP: How big is your operations team in the Middle East?

AS: Our company philosophy has always been to invest in our local markets in order to meet the specific needs of clients.

Our regional office is located in Dubai and we have a team of 24 people based there. In addition to this, we have another 20 “off-shore” employees that support the Middle East operation.

The regional operation supports management, product implementation and support, client services, sales and marketing. Yardi globally has more than 4,500 employees, based out of 40 offices, supporting clients that operate in 70 countries.

GP: How fast and effective is your customer service and response to any complaint?

AS: The customer services team is an extremely important part of a comprehensive support program that offers a wide variety of services. These include professional services, system implementation, training, technical support, application hosting, and more.

We are passionate about ensuring that our client services to do not end with system implementation and aim to build an on-going relationship with our clients as they operate and evolve their business.

Every customer service request is treated as a matter of importance; the local team members are on hand to receive, login and escalate requirements in order to respond to our clients’ needs. Each request can of course be case-dependent and we can also build in specific service level agreements to meet specific client needs.

GP: How does the owner of the assets benefit from Yardi solutions? How much additional value do you provide through your services?

AS: The real estate sector is data heavy and the solutions we provide help companies consolidate information, automate and streamline operations and property accounting processes to reduce costs, they also help unlock the analytical power in property data.

This helps provide greater visibility of performance, whether that is at the portfolio, property, tenant or resident level. This not only helps the managers and owners drive “best value” and revenue out of their existing portfolios, but also helps them minimize real estate related risk and aids the shaping of future asset strategies.

We also develop solutions in such a ways that it is easy to scale in accordance with business growth and provide the ability to implement enhanced functionality as and when it’s needed.

These additional elements form part of a single stack, a true end-to-end real estate solution that encompasses the entire real estate lifestyle from property marketing to the management of tenant and resident needs and relationships, right the way through to meeting reporting needs for stakeholders and investors.

GP: Which is the biggest market for Yardi in the Middle East?

AS: Geographically we would have to say that the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are our largest markets right now.

From a “vertical” market perspective a larger number of our clients are managing assets in both the commercial and residential sectors – when we talk about commercial we include retail, office and logistic properties in that asset class.

GP: How much time does your team need to install the system?

AS: This very much depends on the scale of the project, the size of the client’s portfolio, and their business requirements.

We have a dedicated team based in the Middle East that is fully immersed in a project to produce a best-practice implementation plan in accordance with the specific requirements of that client. Some implementations can take as little as six to eight weeks; some of the larger projects take six months or more.

GP: What are your company’s plans to expand in the market?

AS: When we opened the office in Dubai some four years ago, we had a small team, and by the end of next year we expect to have over 40 staff members covering all aspects of our business.

This is one indication of our plans to grow and deliver further investment in developing localized resources and services available across the Middle East.

We will of course remain innovative and continue to expand our offering to provide new, value-added products as market demand meets a suitable level. From a regional level we will aim to explore the expansion of our client base beyond what are our current core markets.