The energy crisis, environmental challenges, and rising costs of raw material (and everything else!) has forced property managers to search for new solutions for cost optimizations and overall efficiency.
These challenges only hastened the development of the already booming market of PropTech and pushed property managers towards thinking about smart buildings.
To discover more about this technology sector and why a shift to smart buildings is becoming a necessity, we’re talking today to Marko Neskovic, the Head of Business Development at Smart Cat, a brain-powered AI company from Novi Sad, Serbia.
Could you please tell us more about PropTech in general? Can it really mitigate the energy crisis?
PropTech or Property Technology is an umbrella term for multiple industries and business segments focused on building solutions for more efficient property management.
Within this category fall areas such as smart buildings, smart homes, rental management, property management, real estate technology, energy optimization, energy storage… These tools range from simple property rental platforms to complex Machine Learning algorithms.
Smart buildings are the area where we could make the most energy savings by developing solutions that monitor and lower energy consumption, operating costs, and CO2 emissions.
What are the most significant benefits of PropTech in smart buildings?
Aside from making property management more efficient and less expensive, the core benefit of PropTech solutions is the ability to unearth insights based on real time data – that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye.
By using Machine Learning algorithms, the software tracks many different parameters through sensors and cameras, analyzes them, and displays results on screens for you to make smarter decisions. It also uses the same data and your input to automate money-saving tasks.
- For example, the software might shut down HVAC if there’s no one in the building. This lowers electricity bills and CO2 emissions.
- It might recognize that certain parts of the internal systems need to be replaced. This lowers the operating costs.
- Indoor air quality? Software detects the space occupancy rate and adjusts HVAC.
That’s what makes the building smart. Using technology to monitor and manage it.
It sounds promising, but also expensive. Can smaller property management facilities get their hands on these solutions – or are these currently affordable to enterprise-level property managers?
Investment in software comes with a hefty price tag. Especially in PropTech, where you need to coordinate experts from multiple domains.
The feasibility of investment depends on 3 factors:
Overall goals. Bigger companies with many properties might need a robust and expensive system for strategic purposes. Smaller property managers might start with a simpler version – for example, temperature and humidity control.
It also depends on the connectivity capabilities of appliances in the building. Regardless of budget – if a building operates with older appliances, there’s no point in planning PropTech solutions before modernizing the equipment.
Last, but not least is the ownership. Many property management companies lease spaces. It’s not up to them whether they wish to invest. The investment would pay off in the long term for both parties, but it takes time and planning to realize that.
You’ve mentioned “experts from multiple domains”. What kind of experts participate in PropTech projects for smart buildings?
Property managers, energy experts, and IT professionals.
We need property managers because they know everything there is about the property. Then we need energy experts to consult us on benchmarks and feasibility. In the end, we need IT professionals (from Data Science specialists to delivery managers) to plan and develop the project.
At the beginning, there’s always a business analyst that deeply analyzes a client’s problem and proposes a solution.
How do you see the future of PropTech?
I believe that smart buildings will become a standard. The old ways of managing a building and its energy efficiency aren’t sustainable anymore.
With higher adoption rate, more development companies will enter the market to meet the demand, which will result in lower fees and thus make solutions widely affordable.
If I were starting today from scratch with a 10-year plan in mind, I’d focus on solutions that monitor space occupancy and workforce planning in hotels/banks/hospitals and at airports.
What’s the business focus of Smart Cat in PropTech and why?
We focused on the most pressing problem – energy efficiency in smart buildings, both residential and commercial. First of all, because there’s a growing demand for solutions in that domain. Buildings consume 30% of global energy production.
Raw materials are getting more expensive. People expect better experience, but property managers lack the workforce. Operating costs are going up.
There’s a huge gap in the market that PropTech solutions should fill in.
We decided to develop AI solutions that monitor and optimize the energy consumption by HVAC systems, as well as monitor and regulate various parameters – such as temperature, humidity, and air quality.
Aside from business related reasons, this domain is closely related to our core mission. As a brain-powered AI company, we’re committed to using data and technology for smart projects that benefit society.
For how long has SmartCat been developing PropTech solutions?
For 4 years now. We have been active in many areas of PropTech, including but not limited to: location and people analytics, space optimization, energy management, monitoring, clever appliances control…
We have even developed our own solution, Optimus Power. It’s a platform that uses sensors to detect anomalies and optimize operations of HVAC systems in office buildings.
We hope this interview helped you realize the possibilities of PropTech and added another bullet point to your yearly board agenda. Find Marko on Linkedin and visit Smart Cat’s website to learn more.
Make sure to follow us on social media and share this interview with your network.
Written by: JelenaV
November 17, 2022