Harnessing the power of big data isn’t just about number crunching, but also innovative thinking and a new approach to the customer.
This was the sentiment expressed by EY Oceania Business Development Leader Selina Short, who said the property industry is sitting at the lower end of the “big data maturity curve", but moving at pace to better understand the opportunities.
Ms Short said big data, which has been hailed as the "oil of the future", is about harvesting information from multiple sources and analysing it to uncover insights that lead to better business outcomes.
“At the moment, the big data proposition is in its infancy for property companies,” she said.
The secret is to adopt what Short calls ‘hypothesis thinking’. “Ask an age-old question and use big data to answer that question.”
Ms Short referred to the example of construction company Laing O’Rourke, which used big data to test the hardening of newly-laid road surface using satellite mapping and sensors on heavy trucks.
According to the Property Council, Laing O’Rourke’s approach has the potential to deliver a 20 per cent saving in time on a $5 billion project.
Ms Short said applying big data also requires a shift to customer-centric thinking.
“We need to move away from our focus on the asset, and towards the user of the space,” she said.
"Examining the end-to-end customer journey of the people who work in an office, live in an apartment, shop at a retail centre or inhabit a precinct creates new, exciting and challenging questions about a company’s growth strategy.
"Amazon is a good example of how global leaders are using data to “know what your customer wants before they know themselves.
“The industry’s leaders are thinking about and mapping customer journeys to identify pain points and missed opportunities – and they are doing it by using big data to measure, analyse, experiment and fine-tune experiences in real time.
“Companies may want to use big data, but this must go hand-in-glove with an innovation culture and a customer-centric mindset. Without these, the big data insights won’t lead to real world results,” she said.
"It’s a lot to ask the industry to make these sizeable shifts simultaneously.
“A lot of companies in Australia’s property industry are innovative, and many are customer-centric, and some are using big data – but leveraging big data, building an agile culture and thinking about the full customer journey at the same time is quite a challenge.
“But that’s what the industry must do to stay ahead of the curve.”