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Going Digital: Real estate and educational entities adopt technology to increase outreach

June 24, 2016
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The uptake of information and communication technology (ICT) has increased among enterprises across industry verticals over the past few years. Enterprises are deploying ICT-enabled solutions to not only bring in operational efficiencies but also to serve customers effectively. This trend has received a further boost with the penetration of cellular networks and mobile devices, which has led to consumers demanding services any time, anywhere. As such, communication between enterprises and customers and within an enterprise is fast taking the digital route.

This trend is being witnessed in the real estate and education sectors as well, despite the fact that these two segments have typically been slow adopters of technology in their business operations.

Real estate industry

A unique feature of the Indian real estate market is that it has till now been able to generate significant wealth and sustain itself without the widespread use of technology. The housing sector alone contributes 5-6 per cent to the country’s GDP. Moreover, according to data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the sector received foreign direct investment (FDI) equity inflows of about $24.16 billion during April 2000-September 2015. The sector is expected to continue on its high growth trajectory in the medium term with the real estate market expected to touch $180 billion by 2020.

The sector is waking up to the potential that technology holds in making its business processes more efficient and helping companies differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Technology is changing the way real estate companies interact with their consumers. With the penetration of technology in all aspects of lives and the increasing dependence on e-tools, consumers expect similar services from the real estate industry to make their purchase decisions easier. Thus, many real estate companies are experimenting with solutions such as unified chat services that allow them to communicate with potential customers online, offer them virtual tours and provide a live status of construction sites, etc. Also, consumers can now view facilities, book a flat and even make down payments online.

Some of the enterprise applications that are in use in the real estate industry are as follows:

Property management: Allows information related to available property to be stored on a web-based platform that can be accessed by sellers and potential buyers any time.

Listing services: Online listing of property by sellers and brokers, allowing them to share information on the properties they have listed and invite other brokers to cooperate in their sale. Sellers benefit through the increased exposure of their property and buyers benefit because they can obtain information about all listed properties while working with only one broker.

Mobile applications: Used by real estate developers to interact with property buyers and keep them informed about the latest launches.

Research and analytics: Analytics helps in bringing together the right data to drive efficient buyer and seller decisions by enabling them to use all the data details available, including demographics, drive time, and marketing insights such as marketing response performance or social media response.

Smart cities concept as a key driver

Another way in which technology is rapidly changing the dynamics of the real estate industry is through the concept of smart cities. Although a fairly new idea, it is gaining popularity, especially after the government’s announcement of the Smart Cities Mission, through which it is promoting the development of cities that provide core infrastructure. The government’s objective is to provide a clean and sustainable environment using “smart” solutions, thereby ensuring a good quality of life for its citizens. The role of ICT is expected to be paramount in these cities. The application of smart solutions will enable cities to use technology, information and data to improve their infrastructure and services.

The smart cities concept is aimed at taking the pressure off Indian metros, which are becoming crowded and are therefore facing a resource crunch. Further, the focus on building smart buildings, campuses and cities comes from the government’s commitment to leverage the rapid developments being witnessed in the wireless technology and information technology in order to provide world-class living conditions to citizens along with access to a host of utilities and e-services in a connected environment.

The real estate sector is poised to identify and tap the market opportunities emerging from these demands to deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits to its customers and improve their quality of life. With buyers becoming more conscious and aware of the possible amenities they can avail of, real estate developers are innovating and incorporating new value-added solutions in their projects to attract new buyers while retaining existing ones. In fact, most developers are designing their projects keeping in mind the changing technology landscape and have put in place suitable provisions to upgrade the existing systems.

Educational institutes

The educational sector in India is rapidly taking to technology to deliver quality education, with many schools, colleges and vocational learning institutes across the country revamping their systems by leveraging technology and ushering in a new phase in education. The primary motive behind the use of technology in educational institutes is to enable students, faculty and staff members to access the required resources during their learning and teaching experience. Several colleges, schools and educational institutions have put in place a robust IT infrastructure for not only managing internal processes, but also for disseminating information to and interacting with students and staff members.

Key applications

Enterprise resource planning (ERP): A key application that is typically used across educational institutions is ERP, which allows individuals and systems to communicate effortlessly across the campus. Most ERP solutions help educational institutes automate their admission process by enabling prospective students to apply online through a self-service portal. Further, it helps simplify the records management system in schools/colleges. It also enables greater faculty engagement by giving them personalised access to timely, accurate and institute-wide information.

Digital classrooms: Another key technology application is the rapid proliferation of digital classrooms, which utilise multimedia content in classrooms to make the learning process more interactive. Currently, there are many solution providers that are actively offering digitisation services to schools and campuses in a build-operate-transfer basis. Taking the digital classroom concept one step further, many higher learning institutions have started offering online training modules that enable students to pursue a course from the comfort of their homes through an interactive web-based platform.

Resource sharing: Technology is also helping campuses across countries to share resources. By digitising research papers and putting them online, institutions are enabling students to access valuable information and share ideas beyond geographical barriers. Moreover, with the proliferation of smart devices, resources have become more accessible to teachers and students alike.

In addition, emerging technologies like graphics-based information systems, cloud computing, data analytics and internet of things (IoT) are slowly changing the dynamics of the sector. For instance, data analytics can help an institution explore data related to the number and type of existing and upcoming training centres or educational institutes. The information derived can help institutions to identify potential areas of the country that require training centres and accordingly build capacity and infrastructure for delivering skill-based educational services.

Going forward, the focus of educational institutions will shift towards leveraging ICT to come up with skill-based courses that can support the delivery of various courses in a more efficient manner.

Summing up

Technology adoption in the real estate and educational sectors is on the rise, and there is massive opportunity for technology-enabled innovation in both sectors. While in real estate, the Smart Cities Mission is expected to provide the next big opportunity, in the education sector, technology adoption will be driven by private and government efforts to leverage technology for taking services to previously unserved and underserved segments of the population.

It is imperative that service providers understand the specific needs of the sectors and develops solutions that effectively meet the growing needs of colleges, campuses and townships across the country.

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