Data: Could it be your real asset?
31 January 2019
As infrastructure and real estate investors increase their focus on service related assets, whether in the private rented sector or student accommodation; ferries, car parks, storage terminals or hotels, they face the same challenge.
This being the changing nature of consumer habits and preferences. They expect the same experience whether they are at home, at work, travelling or out and about and about.
This is driving an industry-wide shift away from the view of physical infrastructure as a traditional asset class - to it being a conduit for delivering an experience and service for the users. This in turn requires a greater understanding of the impact of infrastructure on consumer behaviour and the business outcomes those can support.
Learnings from the retail sector
Sectors such as retail are leading the way, using consumer data to help make decisions around investment and improvements.
We recently worked with New West End Company, whose goal is to make London’s West End (the area around Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street) and Mayfair the world’s number one retail and leisure district. They want to attract more people, encourage them to stay longer, and entice them to come back more often - with the ultimate goal to generate £100m of additional income by 2020.
By combining previously independent anonymised data - spend, mobile network, footfall and global travel - our customer insight and analytics team were able to help unlock valuable new insights around retail customers in central London. It included who uses the retail stores in central London, for what purpose, at what time of the day and for how long - as well as their nationality, age and spend power. Insights such as these provided the New West End Company with the information to make informed choices about where to invest and make improvements, and generated intense interest at the recent Smart City Expo in Barcelona where we jointly presented how we did this.
As the retail sector forges ahead with generating insights and value from data, what can the Infrastructure and Real Estate sectors learn from this?
Tailored data analytics
Many businesses continue to focus on stand alone and often static information sources such as contract/lease documentation, cost/pricing schedules, aged project management techniques and disconnected software applications.
The key to unlocking the benefits is successfully tailoring the outputs to the project/asset and its specific complexities, by exploiting all data sources available. This itself drives an important shift in mindset from reactive to proactive management.
A great example is the allocation of individuals on a construction project. Connecting people and their attributes (roles and responsibilities) to scheduled activities, allows for an understanding of the impact their actions have on success, within the project. The insights, when delivered in a live situation, can support proactive decision making in real time, offering potentially transformational benefits for a project’s delivery and profitability.
Asset managers and operators have an abundance of data available to them - which when connected can be used to drive insights that would have been unimaginable in the past. There is a significant opportunity for the industry to harness the richness of data being produced across the asset lifecycle - not only to drive efficiencies in delivery but to generate additional revenue in operations, driving increased margins and returns.
Ultimately, this means not just better projects today—but smarter, more relevant and more responsive infrastructure assets into the future. Combined with the societal benefits, some would say data could be your Real Asset.