Surprising to many, the commercial real estate tech scene has become quite sophisticated. Initially slow to adopt tech, the industry now relies on an array of apps and software solutions to meet its needs. But the rapid growth of the CRE tech landscape has led to confusion for some customers.
Struggling to keep up with all of the tech jargon? You’re not alone. With continually changing terminology and advancements in tools, there is always more to keep up with. Yet neglecting to learn the most commonly used tech buzzwords and concepts may put you at a disadvantage when it comes to selecting a technology solution for your real estate business.
The CRE market works to adopt tech as part of a movement against industry frustration. Long underserved, many of these frustrations can be solved with CRE tech. However, they often stay underserved because of confusion around tech lingo that does not clearly explain what the software does.
As dozens of buzzwords are casually used to describe tech offerings, users often find it difficult to understand the solutions presented, and which customers the technology will most benefit.
Here we have compiled some of the most used tech lingoes to help you navigate the CRE tech sphere:
Application Programming Interface or API
Application programming interfaces make it easier for developers to use certain technologies in building applications by abstracting the underlying implementation, and only exposing objects or actions the developer needs. API is essentially a set of commands that allow software programs to communicate with each other. APIs can be put to use in many ways. Often, companies will sell their API to customers, or lend their APIs to other websites. An example of use is when you make an appointment on a company’s website and see that Google allows you to automatically add this appointment to your Gmail calendar. Google has built APIs which allow other sites to utilize their tools and data without starting from scratch.
Artificial intelligence or AI
AI is creating computers that perform intelligent actions in a human like way. Using characteristics such as visual perception, decision making and recognizing speech. This can compound in a variety of ways, from a machine that functions and acts like a human, to self-driving cars. The proliferation of artificial intelligence has broad implications for the world of tech and humanity as a whole. Many jobs are being replaced by AI in factories and office buildings alike.
Augmented reality or AR
AR layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality, allowing the user to experience and interact with a supplemented real-world environment via their iPhone, table and other wearable technologies. In commercial real estate, companies like Floored use augmented reality as a way to allow landlords to help potential tenants visualize what their future space could look like – from different space layouts to furniture choices – without making a single change to the existing raw space.
This refers to any tool or software that allows you to automatically perform actions that would otherwise be done manually. When automation is used for sales or marketing purposes, professionals are able to make a greater impact on their goals with less work, in less time, allowing for the allocation of resources to other projects. You likely see automation at work all the time. For example, when you sign up for a new subscription, you might immediately receive a message from the website personally welcoming you to the site. This email wasn’t sent in real time – they programmed their email service to send off this email as soon as it is triggered by a new signup. For brokers and landlords, automating routine actions, like setting up reminder alerts for lease expiration dates can save time and energy, allowing you to provide better service to your clients.
Big Data encompasses two main general ideas. The first is data sets that are so large, they overwhelm traditional computing methods. The other is the prevalence of new and more powerful sources of information available to businesses and individuals interested in studying patterns and trends. The amount of data that is available today can be overwhelming when conceptualizing how to collect and analyze it. Tools such as asset management and searchable platforms allow commercial real estate professionals to break off manageable chunks of data and use them for specific purposes.
Business Intelligence refers to the data, tools, and processes that allow professionals to gather and assess information about business trends. Essentially allowing data-based decision making for strategy and operations functions, rather than repeating past mistakes or guessing. An example of using business intelligence is to determine how many leads to bring into your pipeline to reach sales goals.
An interactive dashboard allows you to visualize, analyze and manipulate all of the relevant information you provide it from your accounting system, excel spreadsheets and modeling tools etc. in one place. An interactive dashboard differs from a static dashboard in that you can modify it to show you only the data you deem relevant at a given time. For example, you might want to look at trends from a particular week, rather than all time, or understand data across your entire portfolio, as opposed to one building by itself.
Machine learning is an aspect of AI in that the computers are programmed to teach themselves through data analysis without human programming. The computers learn new commands and insights through this analysis, allowing the computer to teach itself and continue to learn beyond initial human programming. A good example of everyday use of machine learning is when your smartphone starts to correctly fix a word that you often misspell, it has learned your habits and adjusted accordingly.
While predictive analytics are not guaranteed to provide accurate data for the future, it creates the opportunity to make a more informed estimation. By extracting inferences from current and past data sets and making decisions based on trends and patterns. Predictive analytics are vital to making educated business decisions surrounding both strategy and operations. Predictive analytics might be used when deciding how to staff a project based on seasonal patterns in purchasing. Understanding how to leverage predictive analytics is essential for brokerages and landlords looking to allocate resources effectively and edge out their competition.
Referred to as VR, virtual reality is a computer generated experience that is designed to feel like real life. The user wears a headset that simulates a visual and auditory experience. VR has taken off in commercial real estate, usually to assist in the planning, management, construction and marketing of projects. Another practical use for VR is for complex medical projects, enabling surgeons to view future operating rooms from a VR device and give feedback on planned design and construction.
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