Underexplored space – The journey to digital real estate (part 1)

Blueprint

This is part 1 of a 2-part series on the digitalization of real estate. 

The challenges of real estate digitalization are reminiscent of the age of the great explorers and discoverers. From this perspective of digitalization, the real estate portfolios of business enterprises are mostly unmeasured, unmapped, yet not-unknown land. Even if buildings are intensely used on a daily basis, there is still much to be discovered!

The type of existing cartographic materials is similar to the maps of the past. Artistic, old, venerable, inherited, but most of all: not up to date.  If cartographic material or maps of buildings, production halls, infrastructure buildings, office buildings, etc., exist at all, it is mostly historic material. But this is exactly where the opportunity is — the unknown can be explored and “new worlds” can be discovered.

Real estate success factor

By land and by sea, good maps are of strategic importance for logistics projects, development, trade or even armed conflicts. Therefore, accurate and, most of all, current knowledge of real estate is a critical success factor. The preparation of maps is and has always been an expensive and costly matter, even if it is no longer a risk to life and limb as it has been in the old times. The significance is even higher if it comes to updating and maintaining existing maps and cartographic materials.

The process of growth and shrinking of buildings is well-known in administrative practice, and it makes existing maps obsolete within a very short period of time. Information that is merely deemed to be accurate is far more “dangerous” than a decision made on the basis of uncertainty. Information assessed as true is not validated any further, the data are not hardened, and the information is directly used as a basis for future decisions and processes.

If it is known from the start that no information is at hand, decisions can either be deliberately based on uncertainty or the corresponding measures can be initiated. If you trust in false information, it might be used for all subsequent processes. Decisions on an optimized, efficient and full utilization or occupancy of buildings must be made on the basis of valid information. Such information is the foundation of far-reaching portfolio decisions, such as type and scope of the utilization, or buying and selling of real estate. The preparation of digital maps alone is not a decisive advantage in itself. It is, rather, the quality, currency and reliability that are decisive.

The office: unmapped territory

The faster our daily world develops into a well-measured “environment” by state-of-the-art mapping and navigation service offerings, the more the space within our buildings remains a white spot, unknown territory. There are various means of finding a destination — but they all end at the building’s entrance. Big buildings may have traffic routes of far more than ten kilometers within, even if all corridors were only considered used one time only.

The problem with the white spots in the existing maps and documents that are used as a basis for the different real estate management processes is of the essence. How can these white spots be filled with contents? What does a modern exploration of unknown or badly mapped territories look like?

Indoor digitalization is one of the modern “research vessels” for indoor mapping. In a proof-of-concept conducted with a major transportation, logistics and infrastructure business enterprise, selected types of real estate were documented with this technology to demonstrate the range of application and to create the basis for digitalization of the interior of buildings. Digital indoor mapping technology is a potential platform for the digitalization of the overall real estate portfolio of a corporate group.

Read part 2, which discusses the many possibilities for using collected data on the journey to digital real estate. 


Bernhard Albert is a business architect and project manager in DXC’s Consulting Real Estate Management practice. He has many years of national and international experience in real estate management processes ranging from implementing and migrating ERP systems to integrating CAFM systems, relocation, designing facility management processes for the management of project houses, and implementing and moving customers into new work environments. His customers include banks, asset management and insurance companies, and the public sector.

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  1. […] This is part 2 of a 2-part series on the digitalization of real estate. Read part 1. […]

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