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Digitization: Focus on the real estate industry

industryInnovationen & Trends

Digitalization in the real estate industry is increasingly becoming a game changer. The potential of digitization is obvious: in the operation, construction and management of real estate as well as in the optimization of the company's own processes.

Increasing focus is also being placed on end-to-end digital interaction with customers and suppliers, the company's own integration into digital ecosystems on the market, and the leveraging of digital potential in the area of project development and in fund and asset management.

Real estate industry: Future through digital champions

This is not just about digitization. The digital transformation of the real estate industry encompasses much more. It is a long-term process with the aim of building an adaptable and dynamic company with a corresponding business model and keeping it competitive in the long term.

Digital champions are not only digitized, but also transformed in their entirety: In addition to the digitization of documents and processes, almost all areas of a company are transformed into a different modus operandi - be it culture, organization, technology, processes, products or the actual business model.

Digitization of the real estate industry is slowed down by various factors

The real estate industry was late to discover digitization for itself. Accordingly, it has a lot of catching up to do or - to put it positively - still a lot of potential for improvement.

There are plenty of ideas and grand visions. However, the implementation and realization of a digitized real estate industry is almost always complex and time-consuming. This is not only due to the challenging nature of the digital transformation, but also to the lack of standards in the industry.

In many cases, the manufacturing mindset dominates, because real estate is generally unique. In this respect, the real estate industry differs significantly from other industries. Further braking factors are:

  • the frequent heterogeneity in the business model,
  • the management culture, which in some cases is very traditional
  • the many good past years without pressure to change, and
  • the very low digital and IT affinity of the traditional real estate business.

The digitization of the real estate industry is also made more difficult by the limited supply of industry-specific, custom-fit IT solutions on the market.

In addition, there is the phenomenon that despite excellent project management skills in the traditional real estate business (for example, in project developments), project management still has considerable potential in internal, but also cross-company IT, change, and digitization projects.


Digital agenda of ECE focuses on digitalization of the real estate industry

The ECE Group already recognized the potential several years ago and set out to lay the foundations for a powerful digital transformation of the real estate industry. The foundation for this is a digital agenda with concrete fields of action and projects. Thus, it was possible to start creating the necessary basis of future-oriented IT, professional process management, and modern work culture at an early stage.

How we digitize the real estate industry

The focus of the digital agenda of the ECE Group is on the further development of products and services as well as the business model within the framework of the so-called interface, product, and business model digitalization.Individual services at the interface to the customer, in particular to investors, tenants, and consumers, are constantly being further developed both internally and in the service to the outside.

This is done on the basis of modularized business processes with a high degree of automation and enables fast, efficient and reliable interaction with each other and the provision of real-time information.

Digital ecosystem using the example of the shopping business

Work is also currently underway to create digital ecosystems for customers and the business - for example in the shopping business. Following the successful implementation of the digital end-to-end space leasing process, which maps all steps from the offer of space to potential tenants to the conclusion of the lease agreement with automatic creation in the booking system, work is currently also being done on automating receivables management.

Digital ecosystem linked with BIM and intelligent building management

The goal here is to be able to map everything automatically - from the identification of open receivables and assignment to internal or external processing partners to integrated and automated feedback on processed receivables statuses.

In addition, a fully integrated digital consumer ecosystem (B2C) based on the connected commerce approach is currently being developed, as is a digital platform for B2B business with digital services for investors, tenants, partners, and suppliers.

New working methods in the project business or digital overall solutions such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) or intelligent building management with predictive maintenance of the properties managed by ECE are also being tested or further developed in pilot projects.


Digital transformation and innovation in the German real estate industry: massive improvement in data quality

Process digitization with the aim of "smart processes", for example in document, finance or billing management, is now well advanced and data quality has been massively improved.

Electronic signatures, digital archives, business intelligence and data warehouse applications, cloud services, as well as agile and modern cooperative working methods are now part of the established standard at ECE - thanks in part to the introduction of a fully integrated, cross-company collaboration platform based on Microsoft 365.

Digitalization in the real estate industry helps with ESG strategy

However, the digitization strategy of the ECE Group also pays special attention to the increasing fusion of the physical and virtual world, because this aspect is of outstanding relevance especially in the real estate industry.

Likewise, it relies on the potential of digitization and modern data worlds for challenges such as the realization of its ESG strategy, modern energy management, or increasing government regulation.

Shaping and expanding the future prospects of the real estate industry through offerings

For the ECE Group, the digital transformation of the real estate industry is a targeted process anchored in day-to-day business. The aim is to use the technological, but also the organizational and cultural potential of the digital age to design attractive, future-proof market offers and to successfully expand them in the long term for the benefit of the customers.

ECE has laid the foundations for this in good time. As a successful, broadly diversified, financially strong and family-run company, it has the resources and the strength to continue to be a reliable partner for its customers in the future.

Prof. Dr. Roger Nolting

Prof. Dr. Roger Nolting was CDO of the ECE Group until February 2023. He is professor for digital management at the University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management (FOM) and advisory board member in companies of the software and real estate industry.