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Developers smarten up with tech push

Jan 03. 2019
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PROPERTY developers are overhauling their business model to embrace a shift towards providing home services underpinned by the rapid uptake of digital technology that is also helping them come up with better designs and cut costs.


 “Digital technology is changing all aspects of our business and has helped us to improve our business by designing a programme that makes use of Big Data to assist us in making the right decision in areas such as the purchasing of land,” Sansiri Plc president Srettha Thavisin said in an interview with The Nation accompanied by his management team.

“We also use digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI) for our residential designs and to improve our construction process. Additionally, our staff are becoming a digital human resource.

 “The change under way involves the use of information technology to support our sustainable growth.”

Sansiri Plc spends an average of Bt30 million a year on research and development involving the use of information technology. In line with these efforts, the property developer has announced investment of Bt1.5 billion from 2018 to 2020 in startups under the concept of proptech. It is funnelling this investment into a joint venture with Siam Commercial Bank called Siri Ventures Co Ltd.

Srettha said that at present all property firms have the same knowledge for developing residential projects, such as that required for selecting locations for residential projects, designing residential function, and after-sales service.

However, with digital technology entering the property industry, this means that developers can use Big Data and applications to find suitable land plots. Sansiri uses what it calls the Bangkok Model, which is a map of Bangkok, to conduct searches with the help of Big Data for sites in the capital, Sansiri Plc ’s chief operating officer, Uthai Uthaisangsuk, said in an interview with The Nation recently.

Uthai cites as an example the belief held by most developers that land on Sukhumvit Road is limited with no new sites available for residential projects. But, under the Bangkok Model, the company has made use of Big Bata and the application program to find new plots for development on Sukhumvit Road.

“Technology is changing our working process, starting with the selection of land plots up to the design and marketing concepts,” Uthai said. “This makes theses tasks easier to perform and helps us to find a match with what the customers are demanding. In this way, we have used digital processes to transform our business model,” Uthai said.

Sansiri Plc uses the BIM system for its construction processes, helping it to reduce building waste and also improve its residential designs and construction processes, Uthai said.

 “We use BIM for 3D design and also use it for quality checks in a later stage and are able to revise the BIM design on the iPad,” Uthai said.

The company also is studying how to use AI to create an example of a residential unit that provides an experience in which potential customers can have the feeling of touching the features of the property. It will be a visual-experience studio that will do away with the cost of constructing mock-up rooms of a residential unit. The studio will deliver the same experience of touching the room’s features that customers traditionally get from a showroom model, Uthai said.

 “Digital processes are transforming our business into an intelligence-based enterprise and are also helping us to reduce costs. This is the way to do our business for this year and the next,” Srettha said.

SC Asset Corporation Plc is another property that has been using digital technology to transform its business.

The company has developed a new business model that draws on Big Data to search out what its customers want before designing the residential projects for sale.

“Investment in technology – that is the way to create our differentiation from other property firms in the market,” SC Asset Corporation’s chief executive officer Nuttaphong Kunakornwong said in an interview with The Nation recently.

At present, the company uses digital technology and AI to design its residential projects aided by the use of Big Data and information about its target customers in the areas where it plans to launch its residential projects. The information technology helps the company to make key decisions relating to the design and development of the projects that match with the customers’ demands, Nuttaphong said.

AP (Thailand) Plc’s chief corporate strategy and creation department officer, Vittakarn Chandavimol, said: “We have to transform our business to create a barrier for new entry by using AI BIM – artificial intelligence building information modelling – for our design, construction process and even our after-sales service to customers. We set up our application to serve all of our customers’ demands.”

AP (Thailand) set up its design and construction standards by collaborating with its building partners to ensure they know how to meet the company’s AI BIM requirements. The system reduces paperwork by communicating through an iCloud system.

 “We make changes to the design and regarding most of our raw materials through the iCloud, and integrate our information until the design is finalised and we can start construction,” Vittakarn said in a recent interview with The Nation.

“Our engineering, architecture, marketing, and management teams can follow all project processes in real time. This helps us to reduce the diversions from the construction process. This will also help us to control business costs.”

The company inaugurated its use of AI BIM last year, applying it to low-rise residential buildings such as single-detached houses and townhouses and condominium projects.

With the entry of digital technology into the property market, property firms have adapted their business models to exploit Big Data in the selection of land sites and to improve property designs. The focus on meeting customers’ demands also extends to improved after-sales service through several applications.

Such efforts ensure that developers keeping pace with the evolving needs of customers in the digital era underscore the extent to which digital processes are transforming the property industry.


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