Data and Technologies: Do We Need Them?


The only thing that remains constant is change.

There are constant and even daily changes in market trends and as such, it is a known fact that organisation’s need to constantly adapt in order to keep up and survive. With business and social trends being the driving force of change across industries and markets, understanding them is critical to ensuring that product offerings cater to their changing needs. Therefore, as your market changes and shifts, so too should your business strategy. But how do we constantly adapt to these changes?

The key to doing this is Data, Data, Data… and more Data

In a rapidly evolving data landscape, the value of information has never been greater. Organisations are increasingly recognising that there is untapped value in data and are beginning to understand the importance of being regarded as data centric. As such, there is an evolving trend amongst these organisation’s seeking means to create value using their own, or others’ data. According to PwC, those that dedicate time to conduct proper due diligence, and comprehend the value of their data, will unleash substantial value.

Data analytics plays a valuable role in helping organisations make informed decisions and expand their capabilities. This is because, the pace of change is demanding new data sets and insights to constantly meet evolving conditions. In other words, data forms the basis for keeping abreast of market changes, as it enables companies to tap into the market and their associated trends which facilitates more sophisticated and targeted marketing. Organisations are on a continual search to uncover new revenue opportunities as traditional customer acquisition and retention methods are losing efficacy. Monetising data is proffering the solution to these revenue seeking endeavours. PwC has highlighted that organisations are witnessing the success of those with strong analytics capabilities. There is double the likelihood for companies that possess good data analytics capabilities to rank in the top quartile of performance within their industry.

Since properties remain rooted in the location in which they are located and constructed, understanding the importance of data is especially relevant to the real estate sector in order to avoid properties becoming obsolete. With the market constantly shifting and changing, it is crucial to adapt to the changing market needs of the immediate area. However, ever so often, property owning, and management companies have tolerated poor data quality despite it being in their capacity to improve it. Across the real estate sector, there has been a similar trend to rely on new innovative technologies to gather data. There is no doubt that these technological innovations transform the data collection practice and act as an enabler of greater customer service or operational efficiency, however, these technologies often provide real estate owners with information that has transparently surrounded them for decades.

Technologies such as cloud computing, big data and the proliferation of the internet of things (‘IoT’) have given rise to new capabilities and data-driven opportunities. This is because they provide the platform for mass data collection and handling. However, the investments made in data (managing, mining and maintaining) need to be aligned with your own business strategy, with investments first being made in ‘utility processes’, such as data integrity and collection methods, before investments are made in the ‘shiny objects’ such as the gadgets that collect the data, AI and predictive models.

Companies and management teams tend to overlook the data that they already have access to. The majority of organisations have a mass of data surrounding them and those that spend the time understanding the potential strategic uses and value of their data enables them to execute their initiatives appropriately. Allocating time to conduct due diligence can help organisations evade costly technological implementation programmes that fall short of expectations due to not serving a relevant purpose.

Before looking at data, it is important to start with understanding its value. PwC has outlined a strong approach to succeeding in data. The focus should not be on how much data you have, where it originated or how to use it, but rather on identifying the value creating opportunities for your organisations to outvalue competitors, and what data is required to execute this.

Only once this has been done can you identify the investments in data that need to be made. After which, data collection, using manual methods, gadgets and internet of things (‘IoT’) devices, can begin. Yet in many instances this has already been done. Let’s take into consideration a property management company that has a database of all the tenants across their property portfolios. These companies have access to information such as the names, ages, incomes etc. of these individuals yet neglect to consider the potential that using this data offers. Retail companies, for example, could tap into this data and identify key changes in their target market, which is critical for them to retain relevance, especially during Covid times. Another example, in this regard, are the shopping patterns retail owners have access to. Through merely tracking the foot traffic of customers, this would enable retail owners to reevaluate their store positions to enhance foot traffic as well as maximise on rentals of the stores generating the highest revenue.

Subsequently, the collected data needs to be prioritized in order of relevance and importance. After which, analysis and interpretation can begin. Some gadgets provide the means by which property companies can organize, visualize and model the collected data in order to identify new efficiencies and strategic opportunities.

It is crucial to exemplify data-informed decision making. There is no question that technologies streamline this process and allow for a quicker decision. Yet there is often a mass “follow the herd” notion whereby organisations jump in on the data investment bandwagon, making significant investments in gadgets and data-related assets in order to avoid being left behind, which is hardly a good reason to invest in these technologies.

Organisations overlook strategies that appreciate and assess the data that they already have to-hand and have access to and rather choose to opt for implementing often costly, data collecting technologies. Neglecting to use an appropriate strategy can leave organisation’s running the risk of ‘putting the cart before the horse’ and making unnecessary and regressive investment decisions. It is, thus, the organisations that adopt a strategic, systematic and diligent data appraising methods that will make the correct investment decisions and receive the rewards.


Strategy& & PwC. (2019). Creating Value from Data.