The 7 most important points to watch out for in the pilot to roll-out phase
Peer Group Meeting # 86 | As a company, are you going from the pilot to the rollout phase? Then you would do well not to let the innovation process be led by a senior from your own organization. Surprised by this? It was one of the 7 take-aways from a recent Peer Group Meeting at our office. Curious about the rest of the tips? Then read on!
1. Don’t look for problems for your solution
Considering that ‘smart’ is ‘in’, you see that more and more companies want to use smart technologies and they start looking for potential problems that can be solved with these techniques. However, the correct sequence is the other way around: having a specific problem and finding a suitable solution for it, not having a solution and searching for a “fitting” problem. It is advisable to start a pilot after you have a use case, you’ve discussed the problem in detail and tried out other solutions. Remember: A smart building is not a goal in itself, it is a means to make people function better to achieve an actual goal.
2. Flexibility first
Pay attention PropTechs! You cannot offer a one-size-fits-all solution for the entire market. After all, every situation, investor, customer or stakeholder is different. With each new client you have to adjust your business model to the unique circumstances and stakeholders of the project. One way to achieve this is by offering a “menu” that contains different options for your product or service, all of which can also work together. Because what is relevant for one company, may not be important for another. In this way you can offer a custom-made solution and increase the success of the pilot.
3. Sales of product and strategy go hand in hand
Tip for PropTechs: take the buyers of your product or service by the hand and guide them even more thoroughly through their innovation journey. You may think that the people involved are reasonably in the same place as you in terms of digital mindset, but often they are miles behind. It is not just about selling the sensor; you have to build a whole ecosystem around it. Do your customers have the internal competence to make the innovation a success? Or do they need guidance? Make smart use of their backlog by offering support in the form of content, presentations or coaching. The digital maturity of the company determines which option is best suited. Beware of companies that are unknowingly incompetent and think they have the right knowledge in house, as they don’t know what skills they should be looking for. In such a case, make it clear that as long as you are involved, everyone will more or less do a good job as they are under your guidance, but when you leave there will be no one knowledgeable enough to take over the lead. Open their eyes that they do not (yet) have the right people and / or work procedures in place to bring the rollout phase to a success.
4. Multiple stakeholders, multiple stories
It is quite a challenge to bring the range of internal and external stakeholders involved in contact with each other, to get them aligned and to keep them informed. The innovation manager, the director, the building users, the installers, the managers, the owner, the HR department etc. – everyone wants something different and there is only one budget. For the implementation of one smart thing you need a whole chain of links that also work well together. It is not realistic to sit with all parties at the table all the time: the conversion time then becomes way too long: the costs run too high and it is practically impossible to guarantee a 100% attendance rate. Because it is necessary that everyone works together, it is advisable to: first, clearly define the question that the pilot ought to solve with all the stakeholders so everyone has the same goal in mind and, second, to explain your project in a different manner to every stakeholder so that you portray it from every perspective and ensure the project seems beneficial to everyone.
5. Scalability of the pilot
Whether a pilot leads to a rollout is determined on the basis of the data strategy, the infrastructure and the costs. Once the pilot has been completed, it is good for the company to take a step back and determine who will be the owner of the data, what to do with that data and whether there is infrastructure in place to make it ‘consumable’. In terms of costs, the rollout can turn out to be quite unfavorable. Where the pilot can be carried out for a symbolic amount, actually rolling out a solution can become quite expensive. Tip for suppliers: Be very transparent about data-ownership, what you are going to do and about what the total costs will be. That way you build trust, which in turn ensures a higher client retention rate.
6. Change management
As a company, are you switching from the pilot to the rollout phase? Then you would do well to not let a senior manager from your own organization lead the innovation process. Indeed, most senior managers often owe their success to their ability to perform ‘business as usual’ properly – a skill set that is not useful in disruptive projects. It is also not realistic to put a part-time employee in charge of the innovation process. Guiding such a process is a central role and a full-time function that can best be fulfilled by someone who has experience in leading an organization through a period of transformation. The best candidate for this position is one with a broad vision, who understands the business case, the strategy and the technical side (no, he or she does not need to be able to program). It must be someone who can view, facilitate and roll out an experiment in a holistic way, gauge its scalability, and can view the route to successful implementation from the end. Another tip: Involve your IT staff in the process. Give them the green light to step out of their comfort zone and let them actively contribute to these types of processes.
7. Think about tomorrow
Whereas attitudes like putting the customer first, working interdisciplinary, experimenting and daring to fail are commonplace in other industries, in the real estate sector they are seen as disruptive. It seems as if the industry has stood still for 20 years. But “The Times They Are a-Changin,” as Bob Dylan already sang in 1963, and we will do well to invest in sustainable and smart solutions for our properties. Although location is currently the most important valuation factor, this will certainly change in the future. Then aspects such as health, user experience, user value etc. will come first. Real estate companies will also have to consider that banks will start to come up with new risk measurement tools that broaden their valuation frameworks for financing. For example, (in the short future) it will no longer be possible to get a loan if the distance to a DSL station is too large or your buildings do not have a C Energy Label at the very least. Implementing smart technology is thinking ahead. If you do so you won’t have to rebuild everything in the future in order to comply with new regulations that will demand to have certain values transparent and accessible. Then it’s time for the next question: “How do you ensure that a building remains smart?”