The Covid-19 crisis took the entire humanity by surprise – disrupting livelihoods, commerce, and working environments all around the world. It compelled us to take a detour from normal – and do things in a way we could have never envisaged before.
The immediate reaction and general sense that leaders across the board echoed were that the real estate industry would come to a grinding halt. Fortunately, that’s not how it turned out to be. Though it took a while for all of us to come to terms with the new normal, industry veterans and thought leaders quickly shifted gears to open the door to new business avenues for industry growth and bring back the sentiments at an all-time high.
Prior to 2020, commercial real estate was reputed to be a slow adopter of new generation technologies. This was despite IoT adoption happening in the making of smart cities and smart building technology making slow and steady inroads in the industry. As the pandemic caused major business disruption across the world, the real estate industry in India was also pushed into action to explore technology-based solutions like never and stay relevant in the new normal. Providing options to employees ranging from pure work from home to hybrid working models for enhanced flexibility, increased focus on providing touchless service across all customer touchpoints, creating spaces for maintaining social distancing from a safety perspective among others prompted the introduction of new solutions in commercial buildings and shopping centers.
Most developers today have large investment plans to ensure their buildings are equipped with touchless technology features such as elevator access without contact, face recognition systems to enter and exit commercial office spaces, touchless parking management systems, no-contact valet solutions, etc. There is also a huge leap in the space of contactless dining and delivery experience which we have never seen before in the F&B space. Contactless service through the digital platforms and all other customer touchpoints have ensured that all customer needs, wants and desires are met albeit in a new way. These technology-based solutions and automation have not only helped improve process efficiencies and reach the target audience faster but also enhance the overall customer experience.
With research showing a higher probability of virus spread in closed environments, developers have invested in upgrading their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to keep the indoor air as virus-free as possible. Ultraviolet (UV) filters is another latest and the most effective technology upgrade that has become significant in the post-covid world vis-à-vis building management.
New technologies and innovative tools are also being fast adopted for managing every aspect of the business from sales and marketing to leasing, and data management. Brands across segments have begun this shift and the realty sector is no exception. With most customers inquiring and connecting digitally, realty deals have also started getting closed online.
Going digital helps in improved targeting of customers and enables hassle-free connectivity with potential buyers, which in turn can help close deals quickly. Digital innovations are also happening in the form of video walkthroughs and AI-integrated chatbots – tech advancements that simplify and seamlessly integrate the otherwise complex and time-taking process of the entire cycle of buying and selling.
It is imperative for 21st-century real estate developers to be future-ready and embrace cutting-edge technology-driven infrastructure for their projects to get shortlisted in one go and attract individual buyers as well as institutional investors. The progressive real estate companies are fast becoming torchbearers in accepting the present disruption and changing the game of the realty sector.
Adopt and adapt, thus, are the new realities of the realty sector!
(By S.K. Sayal, MD & CEO, Bharti Realty Limited)