Real Estate Technology expert and Lucernex President, Joe Valeri (see Joe’s management summary here), discusses the benefits of Tablet computers in real estate development and management and the impact of Tablets on the retail life cycle.
Can you believe it has only been two years since Apple introduced the first iPad?1
The use of tablet computers has rapidly increased since Apple released the first iPad in 2010. Gartner predicts that almost 119 million Tablets will be sold in 2012 and over 665 million will be in use by 2016.2
This trend is already beginning to impact retail real estate development and that impact will grow dramatically as Tablets become more and more ubiquitous.
Retail store lifecycle management requires a large amount of fieldwork due to the geographical dispersion of assets. Tablets, therefore, are an ideal solution for many real estate professionals who spend a great deal of their time on the road.
Every phase of the store lifecycle can benefit from Tablet use, which will drive faster and better site selection, improved project construction performance, more cost effective capital project management, quicker and cheaper maintenance management and an overall improvement in all cross lifecycle workflows.
Examples of how Tablets improve retail store lifecycle management include:
1. Perform a quick site and market demographics analysis using GPS gathered from the Tablet on location.
2. Quickly submit a new site from the field by submitting the GPS coordinates of your location.
3. Complete a site survey while standing on the site using an online form in real time with all required field as well as quick uploads of photos.
4. Update project schedules at the project site while you are having a status meeting or while walking the site.
5. Review drawings, forms, photos on site. Whether the site is under construction or in operation, have real time access to all location information.
6. Upload documents, photos and more from any location using the Tablet camera.
7. Complete forms and work flows at a location; any forms or workflows that need your attention can be done from the field.
These are just a few examples of potential benefits from Tablet computers for the retail real estate industry; there are hundreds more. While uptake of Tablets into retail real estate organizations has been minimal to date, it is happening. And, those organizations that are using them are already seeing huge benefits from using them.
Benefits our users have experienced using Tablets and Lx Retail include:
1. Increased productivity. Field staff no longer have to return to the office for days to enter data collected in the field. This means 20%-30% more time looking for and securing sites or managing projects.
2. Decreased errors. Data is real time, even data collected a few minutes ago at a site, project or store. Working with the most up to date data means fewer errors.
3. Faster completion of work flows. One of the biggest technology challenges for any solution has been collecting data quickly from field staff who often slow down workflows while others wait. Allowing them to complete tasks and update data from the field means ALL workflows get done faster and ALL processes go faster.
4. Increased utilization of the technology. Providing access anywhere at any time, has made uptake of the software by more people go far faster. This benefits all in the organization as the data in the technology become more and more real-time and valuable.
5. Decreased cost. The combination of Tablets and Cloud technology means lower IT cost and faster performance.
Why haven’t more organizations switched to Tablets? Challenges include:
1. Security. When someone carries a Tablet into the field they take intellectual property with them. And, Tablets, unlike many laptops, have limited ability to be secured as part of an organizations network infrastructure. The introduction of Windows based tablets in 2012, which allow IT organizations to extend their security easily to a Tablet, should help this issue. Many are also working to find effective ways to secure iPads.
2. Bandwidth. Many tablets rely on Wifi connection but even those that can also utilize cellular connections may not get a great connection from many locations. The introduction of 4G into many Tablets in 2012 plus the rapid roll out of 4G networks by the cellular carries should improve bandwidth substantially.
3. Learning curve. The two dominant Tablet platforms, iPads with iOS and Android tablets (Android OS) are different than a MAC or a PC. They use gesture-based navigation and have different tools and utilities. While Tablets are really much simpler to use than a PC or MAC, they still take some getting used.
4. Things you can’t do. Tablets provide features and functionality that no MAC or PC can. They also lack many features. For example, I love my tablet and take it on trips, but if I need to work on a complex spreadsheet or write up a blog, I prefer to use a MAC or PC for the extended features and large physical keyboard. Many tablets now offer use of Bluetooth keyboards which help, but the spreadsheets on most Tablets are not capable of doing many things a full version of Excel can.
Lucernex began limited support of Tablets for our Lx Retail and Lx Contracts products in late 2010 and have since launched a very large restaurant client using iPads across the entire lifecycle. In 2012 we have extending our support of Tablets with a Tablet friendly interface and support for ALL areas of our system for iPads and Android Tablets. We also plan to support Microsoft 8 Tablets in 2013. Many of our clients understand the potential value of Tablets in their development and operations and we expect a large uptick in Tablet-based use in 2012.
Previous IWMS related Blogs
What is IWMS anyway?
IWMS? It’s Location! Location! Location!
The Power of Location Management
IWMS – Why so expensive?
Real Estate in the “Cloud”
How Capital Project Management fits in an IWMS
What makes one IWMS easier to implement than another?
Risks of upgrading Lease Administration Software alone or as part of an IWMS