Digital Transformation for Real Estate – Embracing New Tech


At the end of January, Yardi attended PropTech Week MENA 2023, a new event platform for real estate companies, technology investors and proptech innovators to gather and drive digital transformation and start up innovation in the region.

Yardi’s Said Haider, senior director, Middle East sales, took part in a panel discussion about ‘Digital Transformation for Real Estate – Embracing New Tech’ with industry experts Christophe de Rassenfosse from Property Finder, Sebastian Samuel from AW Rostamani Group and Syed Ashar Ahmed from Emaar, moderated by Manika Dhama from Deloitte.

The panel explored the benefits of property technology and how to determine the right operating model that will enable agile businesses and teams, the ROI of proptech and mapping out an effective data strategy and how to embrace customer-centricity as a mindset when deciding on technology solutions integration.

How can companies use proptech to enhance their business?

“We’ve already completed digitalising the customer journey from the marketing websites to the online leasing to the tenant sub-service and online payments – every process in real estate, whether it’s residential, retail, commercial or even coworking, it is digitalised in our platform.

“But what we have been witnessing in the market is that clients and customers are gathering their data from different places without keeping an eye on having a strong data foundation. A strong data foundation can be utilised for AI, predictive analysis and the future of their business.

“Based on each factor, for example, if I want to increase rent or reduce rent, the KPIs and predictive analysis we receive from AI can help us make the right decisions. So, we believe having a strong data foundation in place and aggregating this data will help companies be more productive and make better decisions in their future operations,” expressed Haider.

Why do you think the market is seeing a surge of diverse portfolios?

“Customers are diversifying their real estate portfolios to reduce risk and to improve their return on investment – especially after the pandemic when they saw it hit specific real estate verticals more than others.

“So typically, we used to see a company focus on retail or commercial with maybe a few residential assets. Now we’re starting to see they’re breaking down this vertical. Now when we talk about commercial, we talk about traditional commercial office space as well as coworking or shared office space. When we talk about residential, we traditionally talk about build-to-sell, but we’ve started to see more build to rent – and within that, we’ve started to see a rent-to-own concept.

“As you want to grow your economy, as you want to grow your real estate investments, you must have a diverse selection of real estate within your portfolio. If anything happens again in the future, we know that not all verticals will get hit on the same level – and in addition to that, we’re starting to see more demand coming into housing with single family rentals,” explained Haider.

What is Yardi doing to support the changing demands in real estate?

“We are working hard to make sure we release new products and solutions that can support the requirements of our clients that keep changing on an annual basis. As the market changes, the business requirements change, which puts stress on technology to make sure it’s flexible and can adapt to any changes in business processes and business operations. We’re excited as 2023 has begun strongly for us and we believe we’ll end the year in a good place as well.”

Al Futtaim Malls and Yardi Collaborate to Advance a Wider Digital Transformation Journey

After the panel, Yardi’s recent client success story was presented with Gratiela Duciuc, regional retail analyst for Al Futtaim Group and Swapnil Kulkarni, senior consultant for Yardi. The success story focused on how Yardi’s technology automated data collection and analysis on revenue sources and saved time during planning cycles while promoting user accountability.

Duciuc opened the showcase by explaining the challenges, “At Al Futtaim, we want to provide an exceptional experience to all of our guests as we tend to be the destination mall of choice in all regions we operate in. However, we used to rely on excel spreadsheets and different sources of data. We have various assets in various regions and would rely on our employees from those assets to give information, compile data sets and send it back to us – you can already see the problem with that.”

The Solution

“Al Futtaim Malls were looking for a solution that wasn’t just flexible, but also scalable. As the business is dynamic, it needed a solution that would support them in the future as well,” said Kulkarni.

“We focused on what was important – it needed strong reporting and automation – especially reporting for management as it needed a clear budgeting cycle and forecast of the next 10, 15, 20 years,” explained Kulkarni.

“Yardi’s software helps capture information at various stages in the business lifetime. So, all those modules be it, lead, proposal, live, executed, speculative environment – they all talk to each other and can transport data between each other – that sounds pretty cool, but that’s not everything,” expressed Duciuc.

“The other solution Yardi offered allowed us to promote unique user accountability in our portfolio. So, let’s say at the beginning of the year, you have specific team management KPIs – with the help of this feature, you can easily see who worked on the budget or forecast, who modified it and when – and it can also help in audit trails,” Duciuc continued.

“So, we simplified processes, we automated them, we removed the labour-intensive spreadsheets – but what does that actually mean? It means we simplified the process and can now see exactly what the output cycle would be like. Now I have a clear view of how the data is transferred into the system, how the system populates my various models of budget or forecast and how that information is transferred into a very accurate revenue calculation, which is one of the most important aspects of the software,” said Duciuc.

See how Yardi helped Al Futtaim Malls save over 30 hours of data gathering and strategic planning through an end-to-end solution.