In my previous post, examples were given of IoT applications in the real estate sector, explaining the basic principle of how the cycle of IoT applications can generate added value for the sector (see figure below).

Regarding these applications, both new implementation forms for existing know-how and new competencies for companies are in demand. How can real estate, sustainability and energy consulting companies in the industry prepare and act appropriately for the arrival and deployment of IoT applications? How can the sector’s existing know-how be positioned for the future? What new skills and knowledge should be acquired in order to remain competitive? This article deals with these questions.

The answer to the following question can provide a first orientation for the short and medium-term market relevance of the existing know-how:

  • Are the valuation and consulting assignments and tasks, and the know-how required for them standardisable, repetitive services for a property? Or are they rather building-dependent and therefore less standardisable or scalable?

Standardisable, scalable services can include the following tasks, for example:

  • Review of recurring maintenance inspections
  • Reminders of testing and calibration requirements at standardised intervals (e.g. for safety-relevant systems in buildings)
  • Detection of sudden change in energy or consumption of media
  • List of regularly used parking spaces in an underground car park
  • Regular determination of the vacancy rate
  • Monitoring of the performance indicators specified by manufacturers, such as the expected efficiency of a pump or decentralised small refrigeration system.
  • Climate adjustment of a total consumption
  • Etc.

Aspects that cannot be standardised are systems depending on the use, the technology, or the location of a property. These may include:

  • Source-, use-, order- or location-dependent energy concepts as well as the use of alternative energy systems and their interaction
  • Planning of building-related measurement and monitoring concepts for result checking
  • Services for building complexes with diversified usage structures or complex technical building systems
  • Concepts for anticipatory maintenance, warnings and system controls for energy and operational optimisation
  • Individual consultation to determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be included for a property
  • Etc.

With the existing know-how about the data recording density, valuation algorithms, decision options and standardisation required for the task, the real estate consulting companies in these areas can have an important added value for the future digital real estate industry of the IoT world. For order processing, a cooperation can be established with the IoT solution provider and developer in order to offer complete services. This can increase the competitive strength of these companies for the conceptual design, structured evaluation and analysis of the systems. Alternatively, the actors (e.g. the Property Manager) can be provided with the data to be recorded, the logic to be programmed (see first article in this series) and the decision bases to further commission and implement the IoT solution through interface definitions.

The more standardised a service will be in the future (e.g. to determine the replacement of the accumulators, the lack of periodic testing of a sprinkler system or the large deviation of the annual performance factor of a refrigeration system from manufacturer data), the lower the need will be for a recurring evaluation and testing service by a consulting firm. However, the boundaries between these standardisable and non-standardisable aspects are fluid. Through increased application or experience as well as with standardisation and legislative processes, certain parts of the initially non-standardisable aspects are continuously transformed into standardisable scalable applications and tasks. With technological progress, innovations and, above all, increased demands on buildings on the other hand, new evaluation aspects which cannot – or incorrectly – be evaluated and analysed with a standard scheme are constantly being added.

But which other areas of know-how are in demand in the consulting sector in the short and medium term? In other words: which competences have to be acquired in preparation? The digitised real estate industry is, among other things, in need of skills in commissioning and evaluating the upcoming IoT applications. These include the following aspects:

  • Know-how in dealing with databases and large amounts of data
  • Algorithmic representation and conception of the action plans for the building optimisations as a basis for the programmers
  • Concept development for the IoT-based continuous evaluation of e.g. sustainability and efficiency aspects of a property
  • Know-how in communication technology and user interfaces

“Analytics as a Service (AaaS)” or “Insights as a Service (IaaS)” create added value and thus new sources of income for consulting firms in the real estate sector. The companies can offer these services through acquired know-how or by cooperating with data analysis companies for technical and sustainability evaluations, among other things. Findings from the analysis of the large amounts of data can be acquired and presented as a basis for decision-making for property owners, tenants or other interest groups. Other advantages of this consulting service are the increased transparency and real-time processing of the results.
Terms like IoT, Big Data and Data Analytics may be the hypes of our time. It is a fact, however, that the functionalities hidden behind these concepts will now form a decisive part of the future digitalised business world. Explosive data production, storage and computing capacity are already in place and many companies have already gained a clear competitive advantage by creating new analysis capabilities for previously unused data. Many companies that cannot or do not want to raise the necessary resources for internal implementation themselves benefit from the possibilities of Analytics as a Service.

Audits, certifications and due diligences will also increasingly include the evaluation of the efficiency and sustainability aspects supported by ICT (Information and Communication Technology). The necessary know-how can, for example, be presented as follows in the area of classic consulting services for a TDD (Technical Due Diligence).

When a property is sold, the experts of the building services (HVAC etc.) must, within the framework of a TDD, make statements on the technical quality of the buildings for this cost group of the construction sector. In the medium term, the experts of the IoT systems in this sector will also have to comment on the quality of these systems. This quality can be divided into the following areas: reliability, security, adaptability, service life, interchangeability, interoperability, maintenance options, operability, up-to-dateness of evaluation algorithms, structure of communication systems and energy consumption of IT systems.

Many of the analysis and valuation methods as well as the efficient handling of large amounts of data require special knowledge in real estate consulting. The whole process can become complex: data acquisition, data cleansing, problem adapted modelling, knowledge acquisition and advanced visualisation are necessary for these new consulting services. The consulting service is also necessary for the evaluation of the existing data acquisition and data analysis systems in a property. This know-how can be acquired, for example, through recruitment, further training for existing staff or M&A processes in consulting firms.

As has been the case in the history of technological progress, new opportunities also involve new risks. What risks and necessary additional expenditure do the new applications in the building sector entail? What safety precautions must be taken? How can the real estate consulting sector’s know-how be used to plan security precautions?

The next post in this series will deal with these questions.