Property management and operation technology is being widely used by real estate developers to boost property values.
In a vote by residents to re-select the building management and operations unit for Riviera Point in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7 last month, Savills Vietnam overcame JLL and Anabuki NL Housing Service and was chosen by more than a half of voters to continue operating the project, after having done so for four years already. Most residents said they are quite satisfied with the new property software Savills developed for condominium management services, with it being one of the first property management companies in Vietnam to apply technology in building operations.
Technology for building management and development has been a focus of many real estate developers and tech firms over recent years. Investing in project operations technology has become common among leading property developers who wish to seize the advantages offered from innovation and go to the forefront in the fiercely competitive local real estate market.
Real estate has long been one of the most dynamic sectors in Vietnam’s economy, as local property developers unceasingly seek new and innovative ideas to change operating methods and optimize management processes, according to Mr. Hoang Sy Tien, CEO of DIP Vietnam, a pioneer in consulting on, designing, and building management software for real estate companies.
The private sector, he noted, is always in need of IT systems that can be digitized and can manage the whole company’s data in a centralized and secure way, easily extracting reports on business operations and results. Such systems must also integrate tools to simplify the process of operations and management as well as customer care, such as mobile apps or automated customer care utilities.
This process is slower in State-owned enterprises, but booming Industry 4.0 and greater pressure from competition with the private sector has forced them to follow market trends. Last year was a promising time, with a rapid increase in property broker platforms in general and the reception of vast software demands. However, due to their limited resources and low investment levels while requirements for system features and sales and marketing tools are quite high, the Landsoft software developed by DIP Vietnam can only meet the needs of a small number of customers who are dynamic, large scale, or have a big number of employees, when the need arises for internal data management, Mr. Tien said.
Many landlords and developers have been using social network platforms to interact with tenants or residents. In these cases, technology is regarded as a tool to get things done, but it’s time-consuming and cost-inefficient when monthly reports come and the management model is revealed to be still labor-focused, which prevents them from expanding. “What differentiates companies applying technologies in management is the innovative mindset behind the move,” said Mr. Nguyen Truong Phuc, Co-founder and Technical Leader at BMG Ami Technology, a Vietnamese prop-tech startup. “This means there’s a big difference between the way people regard technology as a tool or a game changing foundation.”
Property managers, he went on, would be well served by using technologies to handle operations, collecting residents or tenants’ information and behavior and determining the condition of facilities, which can then be analyzed and consolidated for landlords and building managers to improve and offer more high-quality services to residents, while at the same time optimizing the operations team or expanding very quickly.
DIP Vietnam is now providing three types of software solution packages: Landsoft Business (real estate management software for investors and project distribution platforms), Landsoft Agency (retail brokerage software), and Landsoft Control (for managing and operating buildings). “In 2018 and early 2019, we saw a significant increase in customers with software needs, in particular those interested in facilities that can be used on smartphones,” Mr. Tien told VET.
Last year it recorded 100 per cent year-on-year growth in revenue from building operation and management software and 50 per cent from the broker platforms. “Based on Industry 4.0 and the practical needs of customers, we have invested heavily in technology renovation, in particular developing a range of utilities on mobile platforms,” he said. “In addition to focusing on providing solutions to help developers manage their work and data more easily, we have also focused on developing utilities for residents and homebuyers.”
It recently launched its resident care app Vime on the Android and IOS platforms, which can synchronize with the database of the Landsoft system, allowing residents to look up service charges and electricity and water fees on their smartphones and send support requests to building management. Management receive direct requests from residents by phone and can send notifications to all residents easily. In building operation systems, the company has also developed mobile apps that help businesses implement operational plans more conveniently and quickly.
Similarly, all connections and communication between property managers and residents or tenants are also made via Ami-based platforms from BMG Ami Technology. In addition to platforms, Ami also consults, designs, and provides IoT products, including commercial products like IoT energy meters and smart fingerprint locks for those who would like to enhance their home security and automation. “With consolidated resident-focused data, we then apply big data, AI, and blockchain to help digitalize management data and gradually automate operations,” Mr. Phuc said.
Last year was a pioneering and foundational year for Ami. It grew from a single product – a property management platform – to ten complementary products in the property management ecosystem. With such variety, the number of units empowered by Ami has continued to rise, from around 500 to nearly 12,000 during the last year, spanning central districts in Ho Chi Minh City. Resident numbers digitalized on the Ami ecosystem also increased from 700 to approximately 13,000.
Another startup in smart apartment ecosystems, CyHome, which aims to change the way people live by developing e-solutions for apartment and building management, was introduced in late 2017 by Mr. Pham Hong Phong, CEO and Founder of the Cyfeer JSC. CyHome is now run in 58 major apartment buildings in Vietnam to serve more than 12,000 families, working with 16 service partners and four payment partners.
Leverage from the property market
The heat of Vietnam’s real estate market is seen most clearly in the number of projects handed over in the past year, and all technology solution providers have noted the rapid increase in the number of new developers in the market seeking building management and operation technology services. “We have received many requests from newly-established management units, and the number of people who want to learn about the process of managing and operating buildings is rising significantly,” said Mr. Tien.
At the same time, longstanding players in building operation management are also pushing ahead with IT applications to optimize the management process and improve their capacity to participate in bidding for new management projects. “The market is growing fast and the soaring number of potential customers is an opportunity for building operation technology providers to boost sales,” he added. “And it is also an opportunity for us to educate the market and build common management processes that take IT application as a core foundation.”
Of a similar mind, Mr. Phong said Vietnam’s real estate market is growing so fast in both size and depth that a raft of issues have arisen, and issues mean opportunities. “In a quick-changing market, user behavior will also be unpredictable, and it takes a long time just to educate users and make them believe in our story,” he said. “That’s our biggest challenge. So, we aim to build our own standard procedure in management, finding a way to bring benefits to all parties based on a technology platform and transparent environment and to help customers gain a backbone for their business.”
Moreover, the urbanization rate in Vietnam has continued upwards over recent years, with more and more people coming to live in cities. “That’s a growing market for residential management platforms like Ami,” Mr. Phuc said. “Of course, it comes with challenges. The first is the rate of technology adoption. Although this rate in Vietnam is quite high, users are keener on OTT platforms, not online transactions. Another challenge is the misdirection and fragmentation of developing the smart city concept in each province. As a result, we’ll go from digitalizing the operations to building digital communities and unifying different digital communities into a smart city. That means every residential area and district in a city must be on the same platform, which is a major challenge for any player in the property management market.”
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