Digitization does not stop at the proverbial concrete gold — real estate. In fact, the real estate industry is on the move. Companies are realizing the benefits of digital transformation and are capitalizing on the power of new technologies such as cloud, AI and blockchain.
Take, for example, Apleona GmbH, one of Europe’s largest real estate service providers. The German company has more than €2 billion in sales and manages properties in all asset classes in more than 30 countries. Apleona recognizes that it can broaden the established facility management model by strategically partnering with its corporate clients to transform and digitize their offerings. To this end, Apleona has been working with IBM since 2017 in a digital partnership that is continually expanding. The company has already implemented a range of innovative ideas, including the following new applications:
Room Booking is the easy and fast way to book office conference rooms without spending too much time on mobile apps. The mobile terminal’s visual representation can also display which rooms are occupied or vacant. As a result, you can quickly find available spaces in the building.
With Smart Ticketing, office workers can use a mobile app to create a “ticket” in just a few clicks if they notice a problem such as defective devices in the office. With this simple and straightforward solution, employees can track the ticket’s processing through the app. IBM Watson AI Services even allows them to “spot” problems so they can automatically create a categorized ticket.
Finally, Energy Pods are convenient mini-booths for “power naps” in the office, optionally accompanied by music or guided meditations. Employees can recharge in these stylish pods and even book them with a mobile phone. Four of the units are in use and are very popular at the IBM headquarters; more are planned at other locations.
New technologies and agile methods are key to innovative solutions
Apleona team members and experienced IBM IT consultants co-created the new solutions in the IBM Garage in Munich, Germany. Most of the applications are hosted on IBM Cloud in the Frankfurt data center, but the customer-oriented flexibility of the IBM hybrid multicloud platform makes the applications available across platforms.
The Apleona and IBM team capitalized on existing real estate and facility management data in inventive ways to develop new offerings. To create smart environments that optimally adapt to people’s needs, the team used data analytics, cognitive automation, edge computing and AI. These technologies, in connection with sensor technology and the cloud, made it possible to process and transfer data streams.
The forward-thinking and agile principles of the IBM Garage Methodology also helped Apleona succeed in its digital transformation. Apleona and IBM continue to follow this methodology at the IBM Watson IoT Center, which serves as the team’s co-creation space. This location even boasts the Room Booking solution.
Expanding offerings and scaling solutions
While the real estate industry has recognized the general benefits of digitization, critical voices are still asking for detailed business cases and quantifiable cost savings. How do you quickly scale the new solutions? “In our industry, innovation and monetization must always be thought of together,” explains Dr. Jochen Keysberg, Chief Executive Officer at Apleona. “That’s why it’s so important that new ideas, such as those developed with IBM, always have competitive advantages, efficiency improvements and better resource utilization in mind.”
The real estate industry cannot shy away from digitization, and like Apleona, other facility managers will have to adopt modern solutions to succeed in the marketplace. “Simply start, develop agile and at the same time, bring the required expertise to the table. Then quickly validate and test it with the addressed users. In our experience, it usually works in a quite straightforward way,” explains Stefan Lutz, General Manager and Services Transformation Program Leader at IBM.
Indeed, new customers, including a major German bank and global companies in the technology, energy and automation industries, are already relying on the innovation of Apleona and IBM. In addition, other IBM locations will soon use Apleona’s cutting-edge solutions, and more applications will roll out in 2020. The joint team is excited to see the offerings expand and the solutions scale.
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