‘Massive efficiency gains’ from harnessing data’s full potential

There are massive efficiency gains to be enjoyed by using the right tools that allow you to harness data’s full potential, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s “Aggregation, normalisation and validation” briefing, which took place online yesterday, as part of the Data Uncovered series of articles and events.

Martin Betts, VP, Commercial Real Estate EMEA, NTrust Infotech

“We’re not supplying a product, rather we’re providing a service which results in cost reduction and time savings for our clients,” said Martin Betts, vice president, commercial real estate for EMEA, NTrust Infotech. “Most importantly, the clients know that they can trust the data they use, because they have been validated, so they can make better decisions.”

REmaap is a web-based platform that is designed for many different CRE projects, mainly holds property lease and financial data but also valuation, facilities management and ESG data. It  combines the three essential elements of a CRE project – workflow, data, documents – into one highly configurable platform.

“It is not a one-hit magic, but a continuous series of events which will improve clients’ data constantly without disrupting the status quo, because we have a totally flexible approach,” Betts said. “We’re happy to adopt whatever methodology they prefer to ensure the project is in line with their expectations, rather than ours. We want to avoid confusion, so we are not asking the property manager to change the systems and formats they are used to and comfortable with.”

Every month, property managers or fund accountants submit rent rolls and finance and sales data to NTrust, and the files can be emailed in multiple formats originating from different systems. The first step is a quality check: whether the correct files have been sent – for example, rent logs from the right month – and whether the data are relevant and up to date.

The validation process ensures the accuracy and consistency of the data stored in REmaap, comparing key metrics such as rent, occupancy, occupied units and vacant units against the corresponding data in the rent roll.

All data can be submitted to NTrust Infotech in multiple formats, originating from various properties and systems

Once the validation process is complete, then the automated aggregation process can start.

“The data get normalised,” said Betts. “We’ve created over 50 automation scripts to normalise the data into email, and the scripts are constantly being developed and updated and tailored to handle various file formats received. If the report templates are changed or updated, we can develop a new script to that the data can be ingested with no disruption.”

Automation is key to speeding up the process, but not everything is left to the machines. “In cases where data is not verified by the scripts, we employ what we call a ‘humans in the loop’ to carefully check, analyse and input the data into REmaap,” said Betts. “AI will not replace humans.”

Artificial intelligence is a significant part of the process and it allows the necessary efficiency and speed, but it is not the be-all and end-all.

“AI is a big part of what we do, giving us the ability to interrogate the data very quickly and get the answers we need, but it is not everything,” said Betts. “We’ll continue to develop it within our own organisation, and we see the constant progress, with instant responses instead of hours searching. Asset managers are really taking AI on board now, because they can see the massive efficiency gains but they must also be confident that the information they get so quickly is actually correct.”