Fighting Data Overload with Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence is only an asset if you define what you need from it. When you do, you can go a long way to helping your onsite teams’ performance.
Before implementing business intelligence, it is important to know what information you need. Once it is defined, that helps onsite teams avoid becoming swallowed up in data and helps them make better decisions.
At CampusConnex in Orlando, Ben Texler, Director of Asset Management and Partner for Coastal Ridge Real Estate, says operators need to understand what key information is most important and impactful to them and to their investors.
“Once you know that, then you need to discover what is needed to get to those related data points quickly,” he says.
Business intelligence software is not for everyone. Andrew Belter, Operations Specialist, The Preiss Company, does not currently use business intelligence software, but has found other approaches to making use of its data. Belter says he can still get by with Excel because he knows his investor’s goals and he can set his KPIs that align with them.
“We know the KPIs that are important for our business,” he says. “We know the data points to look at and the action items we need to take from that.”
Distilling all data into a few key KPIs, Belter says, helps his onsite teams.
“We have a lot of data, but we avoid a lot of data paralysis because we know what we’re looking for,” he says.
Training also plays a key role in avoiding data overload.
“Through proper training,” Belter says, “property managers will learn what data points are the ones they need to be focusing on.”
Texler says business intelligence helps his company understand what actions it can take to drive value. By keeping a singular focus on driving value, he argues that data paralysis is avoided.
“I want to see a simple report that shows where I can increase value,” he says. “It is about trying to funnel that massive amount of data into something that you can execute off of.”
In that sense, the execution matters more than the data. Having data does no good, if you cannot use it to implement a plan, Trexler says.
Campus Advantage chose to use off-the-shelf business intelligence and Senior Vice President of Asset Management Jennifer Cassidy says that led to better decisions.
“It gives us better aptitude,” Cassidy says. “It made the managers better because they understand the ‘why’ behind it.”
Specifically, Cassidy says business intelligence helped drive better value at the “floorplan level” by providing expense information about what it costs to fill a bed.
“On top of property performance, we look at the corporate office and how that translates to site performance,” she says.
While business intelligence technology is exciting, Texler would still like to see advances in predictive analysis. For example, he thinks deeper visibility into how new supply will influence student markets in his existing portfolio could provide a great benefit.
Texler would also like to see business intelligence tackle correlation by inspecting relationships such as how work-order history relates to renewal ratios. Better, more detailed year-over-year comparative analysis would also be helpful, he says.
“How did we do, in regards to revenue on a specific bed space this year versus last year, to understand demand with greater granularity ” he says. “That would be extremely helpful.”
Business intelligence coupled with smart-home technology, such as smart lights and locks, could be the next frontier.
“With smart-home technology, we can achieve better visibility into how residents use the building,” Texler says.
Andrew Bowen, Industry Principal, Asset Optimization, RealPage, also sees smart-home technology’s potential.
“Technology can help an operator understand how residents are using an amenity, which can then help them make smarter business decisions,” he says.
He also says Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize property sales and marketing spend.
Regardless of what happens with Blockchain, smart homes and business intelligence, the world is now different.
“Data is now a product,” Bowen says. “But you have to make sure the data you are getting is in line with your business goals and asset goals.”