The digital state of real estate.

As a business person, I come from a background of hardcore, “deep in the machine room” IT. Digital Strategy and digital business runs deep in my veins. Ten years ago I founded one of the first companies to build a real cloud service for desktop computing. That said, I have always had a thing for real estate investing and the real estate industry.

After exiting my company one year ago I joined a mid-size real estate group. At that point, that group had a project development company and a co-living business. The business group had near to zero digital processes implemented, and hardly any process design.

In the beginning, I thought “wtf”. There was a huge gap between what I have experienced in the digital industry and the general state of the real estate industry. From a processes point-of-view, the real-estate sector could be considered a classical industry sector.

At the beginning of this year, we decided to set up an estate agent business to complete the in-house value chain. Doing things differently was one of the major ideas. So, looking at the state of the industry we have been seeing a well-known pattern: The US is digitally leading the way and all others slowly follow the path.

In Europe, digitization has been synonymous with online platforms and e-commerce. The current state-of-the-art digitization in real estate is front-end portals for offering properties to buyers. Integrated backend CRM systems can be added to support the sales-heavy structures. These digitization tools are lead by platform vendors like “ImmoScout“. On the edge of innovation, we can find Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies. These offer virtual tours, automated layout generation, and the option for virtual home staging.

When we look to the US market we can see a different picture. Under the heavy influence of Silicon Valley Tech Startups companies like Compass real estate emerged. Compass is a realtor franchise with a heavy emphasis on technology perks. Joining the Compass family gives you a whole set of digital tools, processes, and backend support to help you grow your business. The partnering contract allows realtors to share their properties across the whole franchise. This instantly multiplies sales opportunities across the whole US market.

I think we will see a lot more companies combining the Tech-Startup genes for innovation and processes with classical real estate services. Technology has the potential to streamline every step in the real estate industry. Estate Agents and project developers who are able to transfer and translate Start-Up processes, culture, and digital tools will outrun the market. Even the centuries-old companies in the market.

This post is the start of a mini-series looking into the different areas of real estate related technologies. Focussing on two major groups in real estate – estate agents and real estate investors. What are the technologies that give these two groups an edge against their peers?

If you have read this far I suppose you are very likely interested in this topic. What are your challenges? What is your experience with digital tech in real estate? What tools are you already using and what are you looking forward to?

I would be glad to hear from you. Let’s make this a community journey!

4 ways how Corona will change business & life

The corona pandemic has confronted us with very strange times – everything seems to be changing and everything we thought was true is now tested to the core. Whole companies have gone “remote”. Complete ecosystems (like hospitality) have gone into a forced sleeping mode. I am convinced we will come out of this crisis stronger and wiser – as always in the history on humanity. 

Some learnings from the corona pandemic are already obvious today:

Online meetings and business travel will find a new balance

80% of in-person meetings are obsolete and redundant. With all my business activities I always promote a “Meet less, meet smarter” approach. Using remote meetings actually makes implementing this rule a lot easier. No-one wants to sit 60 minutes in a video call that does not add value to the company or your work. Switching to Video (not phone) forces meeting participants to be more efficient. There are a lot of systems out there – from Jeff Bezos’ to Elon Musk’s meeting rules. The most efficient have some things in common:

  1. Avoid big meetings – No larger than 2 pizzas to feed all participants
  2. Rethink the value of every meeting to reduce the number of meetings. Remember – meeting time is mostly non-productive time.
  3. Prepare each meeting with a shared (Google drive, Shared Word doc) structured memo, where the agenda and a short summary in consolidated in advance.
  4. Start with silence. At the beginning of the meeting, everyone in the room has 5-10 minutes to read through the document and prepare their thoughts.
  5. If you do not add value to the meeting, leave and go on with productive work.

Remote work is productive work

Most of the office work can be done from anywhere, when you have the right tools and the right culture in place. There are always toxic (micro-)managers, where physical presence is synonymous with the perceived contribution. These people need to rethink their perceptions. On the employee side, there are always those that will misinterpret remote with a “do less” attitude. To implement a working remote and distributed culture it is fundamental to build a framework of processes, culture and tool to support maximum remote productivity. There are some big players out there that have mastered remote to the extent that they do not even need offices anymore (AirBnB, Automattic)

The right tools are heavily dependent on the size and structure of the company. In most cases, a well-structured combination of cloud software that plugs into each other with lightweight laptops will do the job.

Even though I founded a virtual desktop company nearly ten years ago, I am convinced that a VDI infrastructure can only be a bridging technology towards a world of connected online tools. VDI can be a quick fix for old and heavy IT setups, that still have to undergo the change towards an “App” and connected Cloud-based world.

Our education systems are out of date 

Modern companies can switch to a home office and remote without losing a lot of traction. Our schooling system purely relies on physical presence and just imploded under the crisis.

Our education system needs to be up to date with our society. Some 20 years ago the educational system has lost connection to the speed of society and technological development. When whole companies with thousands of employees can train their staff online and remote including testing and certification, why does the educational sector just go into sleep mode, if the students can not physically meet in a building?

When science speaks, we should listen

Science is something to be listened to. The current situation with people sitting at home, not being able to live their normal lives feels heavy and depressing. But what would be the alternative? Science has always been a (more or less) reliable source of “what if” scenarios. So when science tells us, that the pandemic could cause a break down of our health system, we need to act. The same is true for nature – if science tells us that our environment is at a tipping point, we should be listening.

Digital Evolution is not a choice.

If you want to learn how you can increase your digital chances. Contact me.

Why real estate companies love digital workspaces

The real estate business has always been a personal passion of mine and so I grew to have a lot of contacts in this industry. tocario as a company and I personally therefore have a lot of conversations with leaders in this industry on what major challenges and changes real estate companies are facing today.

This post is the summary of what is driving this and other industries with regard to the workplace of the future. I will try to answer one question: “How can real estate companies and other traditional industries turn the challenges at hand into opportunities to gain a competitive advantage by embracing change and industry trends?”

It’s all about the money

The first major challenge is closely related to the construction side of real estate projects. Competition has been fierce between construction and project development companies, and as a result margins have come under heavy pressure. This pressure has forced many project development construction companies to change the way business proposals are managed, following request for proposals (RFPs) to win prestigious projects.

Bids on RFPs have switched from a top down approach based on cost based estimations plus a risk covering safety margin, to very detailed analyses of the whole project and (re)planning the designs in 3D plans to have detailed and certain bottom up cost-based estimations of a project’s total cost. Adopting this last approach, in a BIM (Building Information Modeling) methodology, makes the whole construction process more efficient by identifying planning conflicts upfront and avoiding failure costs. This change in methodology is estimated to account for 10% to 15% of a project’s total cost in traditional methodologies.

The other big challenge is related to the sales processes and methods used by real estate developers and brokers, especially when selling projects that haven’t been built yet. Investors and project developers are trying to increase volumes by decreasing the payback period(PBP – the time needed to recoup the funds invested in a project) of each project, while maintaining a high sales price to optimize profitsand to minimize the financial investment risk. To achieve this minimum PBP at optimal margins, the challenge does not lie in making shiny, happy and high resolution pictures, or having the best glossy marketing, to convince one to invest a significant amount of money based on pictures and location maps only. The real challenge lies in smoothening the sales process to create value through experience, and reach out to the right buyer: someone who sees the value of a real estate project and is willing to pay the amount requested by the developer. Thisperceived value is personal, and strongly depends on personal preferences, needs and requirements. This is why real estate developers and brokers are looking for disruptive and innovative sales tools as an opportunity to gain a sustainable competitive advantage, increase profits and significantly shorten the PBP.

 “If you want to know how to sell more, than you better know why customers buy.

Before starting to shape up the ideal innovative sales tool solution for real estate developers, you have to understand the buying behavior of our potential buyers.

In general, the decision to purchase something is strongly influenced by the ability to reduce the (financial) risk and stress of a bad buy, and thus any sales process/methodology should be focused on gaining trust and confidence to take away hesitation. As an example let’s identify 3 major types of buying behavior, and extrapolate real estate buyers to these different behaviors. You’ll see that these behaviors strongly depend on the type of product bought, the size of the investment made to purchase the product and the frequency of buying it.

The first behavior is relying on a strong return policy, to gain trust and convince the buyer to purchase a product. This strategy is fairly simple: if you don’t like it, just send it back and get reimbursed, decreasing the financial risk of your purchase. The main example of this buying behavior is observed when we buy fashion and clothes online. The offer online is much larger and access to it is pretty easy, but the risk that a product won’t fit, or isn’t exactly what you’d have expected it to be, is higher. To eliminate this buying hurdles, these e-stores offer good return policies to convince to purchase and try. These purchases are pretty small and have a regular frequency.

Another behavior, pretty complementary to the first one, is buying based on (peer/user) reviews and informationlike specifications. Think of buying technology products on Amazon. You want to be well-informed before taking action and buying by looking at the 5 star rating and the reviews of other buyers. These purchases are non-daily, less frequent and consist of medium sized investments.

The 3rdbuying behavior is strongly influenced by, and based on, ‘experience’. This experience based buying behavior is most likely to be observed when making larger investments. These investments are no daily or recurring events, but are pretty rare. Think of buying a car, a boat or even an expensive top-notch sound system. That is why huge efforts are made and huge amounts of money are invested in showrooms, to give a potential buyer an amazing experience, making it easier for him to justify, and feel more comfortable, with spending his money. The buyer feels the value of the product he is about to buy, and gets him into the less rational decision making unit of the brain.

If we want to create an innovative sales tool for real estate developers, with a winning sales strategy to gain a buyer’s trust by taking away fear of a bad buy, it is very likely that our new efficient sales tool should bring any potential buyer increased value by the opportunity to experience the real estate project upfront.

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” – Steve Jobs

The question still remains: “If experience is key to investing in real estate, how can potential buyers be convinced to invest their money in real estate that hasn’t been built yet?”

Nowadays, amazing pictures and location maps are used to give potential buyers a preview or experience at the whole virtual real estate project, to prove a project’s value. Sometimes you can even watch good looking walkthrough videos with an amazing level of detail. No wonder that these pics and videos come with never ending sunshine, happy people playing outside and having fun all day long to trigger your emotions. If you’re lucky, as a potential buyer, you’ll even have the opportunity to visit a well-designed cozy interior of a showroom to discover how the interior of the real estate project could look like. However, there’s still many significant and critical dimension unexplored. You just can’t physically visit the project as it physically doesn’t exist yet, and that is where virtual/immersive reality combined with real-time rendering comes into play.

I recently discovered multiple companies, creating content in virtual/immersive reality based on 3D and BIM designs. One of them, Nanopixel, added multiple parameters and filters to this virtual reality up to an unseen level of detail. On one of their projects I was able to select the budget, number of rooms, orientation etc. I was also able to select the time of the day, and the season, while the system would simultaneously render the model in real time to show how the light would come in. For the first time I felt like I was walking around in the apartment, having a look at those dimension that matter to me. It has been the closest experience to walking around physically in an existing real estate project. In future projects I expect that virtual visitors will be able to change more and more settings to comprise more and more dimension to converge towards an equal to real-life experience.

Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box

Deepak Chopra

This whole virtual/immersive reality, combined with real-time rendering, and the increasing amount of parameters, features and dimensions to be added to these models, brings us to the next big challenge or question. The last hurdle we have to overcome to unleash the full potential of this new sales tool is to be summarized as: “How can we bring these models, with demanding graphical computing performance, to any potential buyer? We can’t expect them to buy a heavy workstation, install heavy software, and download these models (comprising multiple Gigabytes) to experience a real estate project, do we?

If we want to reach a large group of potential buyers, and not only those owning heavy graphical workstation to run these immersive models, we need to find a medium that combines the storage and the processing power, accessible at anytime, anywhere and with any device, to overcome the last hurdles to create an efficient innovative sales tool for the real estate business.

That’s the time where cloud computingfinally comes in, what did you expect? With our MyGDaaS platform, performance is streamed over the cloud, no downloads are needed as MyGDaaS runs heavy immersive reality designs in any HTML5 browser to provide any user with a fluid experience to run these models instantly, with any device to experience your next real estate investment.

A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking

Arthur Bloch

The main advantage for real estate developers and vendors is related to the ability to reach out to a huge amount of potential buyers, increasing the project-buyer fit. Finding the right buyer for a project, leads to shorter PBP, higher value and margins and lower financial risks for real estate developers. This cloud adoption to sell projects, based on immersive reality to increase experience, might lead to a significant competitive advantage.

On the other hand, investors get access to a larger supply of possible projects, as experiencing a real estate project goes instantly. They don’t need to travel or make appointments anymore. Just take your tablet, click a link, and walk through a potential investment project.

It is clear that MyGDaaS stands for the missing link to create tomorrow’s innovative sales tool, disruptive-by-efficiency, by taking away all hurdles to let any potential buyer experience his future real estate investment. Try it yourself and let’s engage in a conversation about your business.

Six Pillars of Digital Success for CIOs

Six Ways CIOs Can Drive Digital Transformation and Lead Their Companies Toward Revenue

Growing a digital business is essential for virtually every enterprise across every industry. Large enterprises and small businesses alike are digitizing their internal and customer-facing processes and services to increase efficiency, scale their businesses, and collect meaningful data. Yet, while many companies have launched digital services to collect data, we haven’t fully tapped into the potential of data analytics—even though studies suggest that digital will be a top differentiator in years to come.  Curious how you can get a better handle on digital transformation? Read on to learn why it’s so crucial, plus discover six key ways to digitize your business.

Why Digital Transformation Is Such a Big Deal
A recent survey of 573 senior executives from North and Latin America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region conducted by Forbes Insight and Hitachi shows that less than half of executives see themselves as advanced or leaders in data and analytics. The survey drew responses from executives across a wide range of industries, from technology and services to finances, telecommunications, and healthcare.

Even though the vast majority of companies—91 percent—that use data and analytics have experienced increases in revenue, only a third see themselves as leaders in customer experience. This gap highlights how underutilized data and analytics continue to be in the business world.

Researchers from the MIT Center for Digital Business define digital transformation as “the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises.” In a 2014 survey of 157 executives at 50 companies, researchers found the best-performing companies combined digital activity with strong leadership to leverage technology for transformation. According to the researchers, these companies had reached digital maturity—a differentiator that led them to outperform their competition.

The key areas where the MIT Center for Digital Business saw executives digitally transforming their processes were customer experience, operational processes, and business models. Additionally, as Forbes and Hitachi’s survey shows, these are also areas where IT leadership can lead the way. To be successful with digital transformation, CIOs need to steer their companies in two seemingly opposed directions. IT leaders need to take a bigger, long-term vision while executing on outstanding operational delivery within the organization. In order to fully transform their company digitally and ensure success, CIOs need to take these six steps.

|| Data-driven ||
|| Business-centric ||
|| Across silos ||
|| IT managed ||
|| HR supported ||
|| Culture transformation ||


1. Make data and analytics a top company priority

The majority of companies are already putting digital transformation at the forefront. Forbes Insights and Hitachi’s research shows that digital transformation is a priority for 50 percent of respondents. This focus is especially notable when it comes to how executives make investments that will benefit their organizations in the long term. The study found that, in addition to increasing their data and analytics capabilities, new technologies are the top investment priority of 51 percent of respondents for the next two years.

However, a not-so-small subset (49 percent) of companies still lags behind. In the years to come, this will be a huge differentiator between these organizations and their competitors as they rush to play catch up. This is because data, like a fine wine, improves in value over time. The more data an organization is able to collect and analyze over a longer period of time, the sharper their insights.

2. Design digital transformation around business goals
Forbes and Hitachi’s research also found that a changing business model was the top reason that 41 percent of respondents had begun the process of digital transformation. The availability of new technologies came second, driving 40 percent of respondents to digitize their businesses. This is likely due to the impact that digital disruption has made on a number of industries. Companies, such as Uber and Airbnb, seemingly transformed their industries overnight by leveraging cloud and mobile technologies to gain access to customers.

Savvy leaders are turning to digital transformation to modernize—before their industries are turned upside down. For instance, the ability to innovate was listed by 46 percent of survey respondents as the top metric used to measure the success of digital transformation, closely followed by revenue growth (46 percent) and cost reduction (43 percent).

3. Take an enterprise-wide approach
Digital transformation can’t be accomplished in a silo. Currently, the bulk of the work is carried out by IT teams—without the involvement of cross-function teams within the company. The focus on IT is partially because they were cited by 53 percent of Forbes and Hitachi’s survey respondents as the most prepared for digital transformation. Only a third of the survey respondents viewed other company functions as ready.

Instead of focusing solely on IT for digital transformation, companies should empower IT teams to collaborate with other departments on ways to digitize their systems. By partnering with other departments, IT teams can make an efficiency and revenue impact across the organization. If digital transformation continues to live in a silo, its effectiveness will remain limited.

4. Expand the role of IT

CIOs have a unique opportunity to grow and expand their influence within the organization. A survey from Gartner shows that 75 percent of executives expect digital to help double revenue. Digital transformation can give IT leaders an opportunity to expand their roles and oversee technology across the organization. To make this change, CIOs need to shift away from focusing just on operations and infrastructure to embracing a more consultative and collaborative role.

Much of IT spending happens outside of the IT department. When IT leadership oversees all technology spending, they gain a holistic view of what technology the company uses the most as well as redundancies and opportunities to innovate. IT leaders need to both manage traditional IT while also act as an advisor and guide for the rest of the company on what technologies and digital projects they should research and experiment.

5. Transform talent acquisition
The recruiting process at many organizations is one clear area where digital transformation and collaboration with IT can make a big difference for companies. Companies are constantly searching for the best talent, and it’s a challenge to find people with the right skill sets, especially when it comes to tech roles such as data science and DevOps. What’s more, the technology landscape constantly changes and there’s a high likelihood that this time next year, companies will seek people with an entirely different set of skills.

The right digital tools can help make the process of finding and connecting with candidates much easier. Solutions such as video conferencing for interviews, sharing job openings on social media, and leveraging LinkedIn make recruiting and interviewing much more efficient—and not just for the IT department. Teams across the company can hire top talent more easily and efficiently by digitizing their recruiting process.

6. Prioritize employee-friendly processes
Just as digital transformation can’t flourish in a silo, new procedures and technologies that aren’t employee friendly will also fall flat. Busy employees will only be frustrated by technologies they don’t know how to use or those that need constant troubleshooting. When this occurs, they simply return to the old way of doing things. Instead, IT leaders have to think like user-experience professionals and HR teams. They need to assess new technologies based on user-friendliness, as well as educate, train, and support employees when new technologies are implemented.

Digital disruption brings change, which can be uncomfortable for employees—especially team members who are used to the old system. It’s important to be understanding and patient. Setting the right tone is crucial. For instance, let employees know that a dip in productivity is expected while everyone adjusts to the new system. There are also many ways to make learning new technology more enjoyable for everyone. Holding new tech training with snacks, games, and prizes, and allowing for some time to let everyone socialize can help the team relax and have fun.

The growing interest and adoption of digital transformation by the business world has created new opportunities for IT leadership to evolve their roles within their organizations. This gives companies more access to tech leaders who can steer their business toward higher levels of productivity and efficiency, which can increase revenue and decrease costs. To do this, CIOs and IT professionals have to make a shift toward developing more strategic and consultative roles for themselves. This is the only way they can effectively partner with departments across the company to enact change and drive digital transformation.

The post 6 Ways CIOs Can Drive Digital Transformation and Lead Their Companies Toward Revenue appeared first on Application Performance Monitoring Blog | AppDynamics.

The future Workplace in 2025

The dynamics of the Workplace are changing

In this modern age, globalisation has taken its effect and by its design we are now all interconnected and interdependent all the time, and from every part of the globe. Mobile data and information exchange is a constant. Even social coexistence and connectivity follows the new rules for flexibility and constant availability. People are more connected through technology today then ever in history. Almost everywhere on the globe, people are connected through their devices in one form or another. This kind of mentality has permeated the workplace, and there is now a constant desire for better technology and understanding of this interconnected world. “Hyperconnectivity” determines our life and work now and will have an even greater impact in the future.

The workplace in 2025

It is time for companies to realise this and take hold of their futures. If companies choose to not make plans for the future workplace, they will face increasing difficulties in recruiting new talent. They will also have to rethink their social and technological strategies in order to not get left behind, and stay ahead of the game. Therefore, we know that the future workplace will replace the known, unchanging hierarchies and departments with small, collaborative team networks. These are the findings of a study commissioned by Fujitsu from the independent European market research firm Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC). The study “Workplace 2025” outlines the core issues that will change the workplace over the next eight years. It also outlines the recommended steps companies should consider to stay competitive.

Our new reality

The expectations of the workers are high: 79 percent complain that their workplace does not offer the necessary flexibility; 56 percent have higher safety requirements than are met; 49 percent are convinced that traditional jobs will disappear anyway and 24 percent want more accessibility, also from a technological point of view. There are companies such as tocario, that are working with the idea of creating a digital workplace, where flexibility and accessibility can be achieved.

Employers have already done a lot or planned to reform the work environment. 70 percent want to adjust their company policies. 60 percent oppose or already practice open innovation and crowdsourcing within the company. 30 percent want to invest in analysis tools and almost half can practically imagine working with digital virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. Half of the employers want to implement use cases and environments that are based on consumer behavior. However, only 29 percent of employers want to allow their employees to use end devices of their own choosing. At the same time, end devices will determine how access to information is regulated, how it is shared and distributed securely, and how valuable content is created.

5 important changes in the future workplace 2025

Future workplace 2025Cross-generational workplace management and administration

One of the major changes that will affect the workplace of the future is demographic change. By 2025, a large number of millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, and thus the so-called “digital natives” will enter the workforce, expecting a better work-life balance and an agile and compelling work environment. At the same time there are Generation X employees who are active in the company until the 1960s and who will work with technologies that will help age not be a hindrance to physical tasks. This diversity of employees in 2025, with their very different preferences and needs, also requires companies to make radical changes in education and development.

There will be greater movement and flexibility

The study recommends forcing the agility of the “limitless” workplace. In order to continue to be perceived as an attractive employer, companies should develop a contextual and personalized work environment that is tailored to the individual needs of the employee. At the same time, they should strengthen collegial cooperation through the implementation of new technologies, such as augmented reality or digital workspaces. The “Workplace 2025” report predicts that today’s organizational structures will become much more agile and adapt to ever-changing economic conditions, competitors and customer needs. The still prevailing rigid hierarchies and departments are being replaced by small, collaborative network teams of employees and external freelancers, which are linked by unified communication and collaboration platforms and supported by intelligent assistants.

Recruitment via crowdsourcing


CrowdsourcingThis increased flexibility not only affects the skills required in companies, but also the search for suitable employees. The study concludes that the fastest growing companies in 2025 will be able to quickly identify and develop skills from a global talent pool. Instead of hiring permanent employees for a particular role, the trend is toward global crowdsourcing of freelance talent. Teams of all sizes must be put together quickly and according to their needs. A reliable and flexible technology platform that enables employees to quickly authenticate with biometric data to gain access to the tools and systems they need is essential.


The blurring of borders between industries

The development and expansion of such networks also poses new challenges to the technologies required. External partners need access to centralized enterprise applications, and cross-enterprise data sharing makes an appropriate security solution essential. In terms of security, companies strive to strike the right balance between providing the tools and frameworks needed for good internal and external cooperation while effectively addressing the continuing threat of cybercrime. The workplace of the future, therefore, needs simple, easy-to-use and adaptive security tools that will not stand in the way of productivity – like Cloud Workspaces.

Companies must lean on technology partners and IT

As a result of these evolving needs, technology partners are expected to become increasingly important to companies in the future, helping them to manage these new, larger ecosystems and to advise them on other challenges, such as security issues and financial risks. This model of digital co-creation offers the potential of a much higher enterprise value than the market-dominant, rigid contract models. Of course, not all jobs will naturally change so radically. Nevertheless, many companies will have to react in order to be able to win or retain the young employees. It should be borne in mind that 20 percent of administrative employees who work in a modern and forward-looking manner are advancing 80 percent of productive employees in terms of increasing productivity and quality.

To find more interesting blogs, or to learn more about tocario and how it fits into the future workspace, click here.


Digital Strategy Vs. Digital Transformation: What’s The Difference?

In our digital age, companies must change how they think, how they interact with customers, partners, and suppliers, and how the business works inside.

Sourced through from:

Implementing a Digital Strategy is just the first step. Putting those strategies into concrete actions on every level of the organization is the game changer. Digital Evolution is inevitable.