Blog July 22, 2021

How to overcome your 3 biggest challenges to start winning with data

By Andy Birch

When you think about your real estate company’s data and reporting, do you think about how it’s driving positive business outcomes? Or do you think about the hours spent exporting and manipulating spreadsheets to get the information you need?

Most real estate businesses collect ample property data, but many run into challenges accessing their data, curating the data that matters, trusting its accuracy, and putting it to use to drive business outcomes.

The goal is to turn data into actionable insights that drive better decision making. Overcoming the challenges your business faces requires you to make timely and accurate decisions, and the right technology can empower you to do so with confidence while differentiating your business from the competition.

The key data challenges facing real estate businesses

The first challenge facing many businesses is data availability. It sounds obvious, but the people who use portfolio data to make decisions should be able to access it in real time when they need it.

Instead, they likely receive manual ad-hoc extracts of data, subjecting users to what is commonly called “spreadsheet hell.” The information is often difficult to manipulate and understand and becomes outdated quickly.

This siloed data creates a lack of data consistency in the organization. The typical real estate company has several key players with an interest in the business’ data—Executive leadership, property management, leasing, asset management, legal, etc. And each group needs the data for a different purpose, and often may have their own data systems and sources.

This causes an unwanted game of telephone tag or round of emails as frustrated recipients seek to gain clarity over what is accurate and timely. As spreadsheets of exported data are passed from team to team or pulled in isolation of each other, the truth gets messy. The result is an unclear or even inaccurate story.

When decision time comes, data (i.e. the great equalizer) is dismissed in favor of each group’s own biases.

Finally, if the goal is to turn data into action, overcoming data curation issues is critical to real estate business planning. Curation is the process of managing data to make it useful for discovery and analysis. In practice, it’s about providing a structure for the data and a system for maintaining it over time.

During the “How to Win with Data” webinar, Mark Sigal, CEO of Datex Property Solutions said this about data curation:

Light is the best antiseptic. If you shine a light on your data to understand what you have and where it exists, and bring it together in a constructive fashion, it becomes directed and manageable. You get beyond paralysis analysis and can turn data into the key to a solution.

Using technology to turn data into action

The concept of business intelligence has gotten a bad rap over the years. You may have heard horror stories about the time and cost required to fix broken systems and overcome the challenges described above. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Implementing a new system can quickly solve a few basic issues at the outset, then you can fine-tune it over time.

Here’s what technology can do to quickly help you start winning with data.

1) Make data accessible to the individuals that need it. This transparency involves aggregating disparate sources into a single source of truth that the right people can access when they need to.

Remember the telephone game? That frustrating game comes to an end when the property management, accounting, brokers, lenders and others can all refer to the same data source in real time.

2) Make the team users of the data. Now that the right people are looking at the right data, give them a tool that enables them to turn data into insights without ever getting a data science degree. The data should be collected appropriately, easily visualized, and accessible through self-service. An employee should be able to look at a data set and intuitively analyze it in ways that unlock learnings about the business.

We’ve talked about “spreadsheet hell,” which really creates two problems. The first is that the data gets lost in spreadsheets, which are outdated and hidden away in individual computers. The other is that drilling into the information once its in a static form is difficult. To get your team using, learning from, and making data-driven decisions, the system must be easy to use.

Large volumes of data are only helpful to your organization if it can be understood and used to boost performance. MRI Analytix helps your business manage large data sets in a way that could drive business decisions. The system can improve your team’s ability to streamline data and better leverage complex information needed to support the business. The tool can make data visible to stake holders, enable quick decision-making in volatile conditions, and help reduce errors and bottlenecks in the process. Learn more about how MRI can help you use your data.

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