Real estate is witnessing the dawn of Chief Data Officers

Big Data has become a crucial aspect of several sectors, and real estate is no exception. Data science and analytics have become a cornerstone of the industry — all kinds of data are flowing in, and unless put to good use, they will only clutter the space. Ramping up the utility of data requires special skills, and this is where the role of data managers becomes critical.

More and more real estate companies are realizing the importance of collating data and profiting from it. This has necessitated hiring Chief Data Officers (CDOs), whose job is to deal with Big Data. CDOs are responsible for leading the data strategy of the company and coming up with a roadmap.

While data is crucial to all industries, its significance in the real estate sector is much greater because the available information is far broader and most of it is generated manually. Real estate companies do not just need data about buildings; they need information about the surroundings, the occupants (actual and prospective), and how end-users are using and interacting with the buildings. Such data is challenging to collect and analyse and needs the undivided attention and specialized skills of a CDO.

Considering the massive Big Data potential in the real estate industry, it is surprising that it has taken so long to recognize the need for a data officer. It is only now that the sector is witnessing the dawn of a CDO. But now that the role has been recognized by more and more players in the industry, it is all set to become an indispensable one.

Leveraging property data — information related to maintenance operations, lease agreements, building occupancy rates, etc. — is becoming more crucial than ever before due to the widening scope of the industry. No wonder real estate companies are realizing the need for someone in a leadership role to manage the deluge of information.

Role of CDOs set to expand

When real estate companies first started hiring data personnel, the role was focused on data security, governance, regulations, and protection from fraud. And CDOs were hired based on their technical and/or legal background. However, the role is set to expand beyond these functions as real estate companies bank on their CDOs to find ways to derive value from the data and generate revenue from it.

With security and privacy becoming important for customers and businesses alike, managing data is bound to become more and more complex. Moreover, complying with data privacy laws across geographies becomes a necessity, with real estate companies increasingly spreading their wings and commencing operations beyond their home turf.

CDOs will increasingly determine what kind of data they need to capture, retain, and use, and for what purpose. They will have to work alongside Chief Digital Officers, who are responsible for the information systems where the data is stored and processed, and build an integrated data storage, collection and analysis strategy.

In the end, the fact remains that the post of a CDO is quite new and is still evolving. But one thing is pretty clear: It will become a critical role that will not only help sustain the business but also drive profitability.

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