No digitisation push by corona in the construction and real estate industry

New findings from the Digital Real Estate Study 2021 22.03.2021

Zurich, 22 March 2021: The construction and real estate industry is still lagging behind the digital transformation. This is shown by the results of this year’s Digital Real Estate Survey by pom+ and Bauen digital Schweiz/buildingSMART Switzerland. Although the approximately 250 executives and real estate experts from Switzerland and Germany rated their own digitisation maturity at 4.2, slightly better than in the previous year, digital process consistency remains a vision.

In the Digital Real Estate Survey 2021, the Digital Real Estate Index was calculated for Switzerland and Germany for the third time in a row. The index measures the extent to which real estate companies are addressing digitisation and the extent to which they have already taken and implemented measures. The calculation is based on 25 indicators in five clusters and twelve technology areas. On a scale of 1 to 10, current digitisation maturity across the entire market is assessed at 4.2, equivalent to an increase of 0.3 points. The differences in the indices for Switzerland and Germany have accentuated again this year with 4.1 and 4.6.

“The slight increase in the index is partly due to the fact that the degree of digitisation between the various roles is becoming more strongly aligned. In the last year, property managers and FM service providers in particular have made progress in terms of digitisation. Solutions such as tenant portals, the introduction of digital tenant files, the automation of the leasing process, but also new possibilities in building operations have undoubtedly contributed to this improvement. Owners and investors are the least advanced in terms of digitisation – their digitisation index is even slightly lower than in 2020,” says Dr Joachim Baldegger, study leader and Head of Service Unit Future Lab at pom+.

The picture is very heterogeneous when it comes to investment in innovation and digitisation, where many companies (43%) allocate between 1 and 5% of annual revenue. Around a quarter of respondents (24%) invest more than 5% of revenue. Owners and investors bring up the rear here, which may also be one of the reasons for the lower index.

Focus of digitisation is shifting

The extraordinary situation surrounding the corona pandemic is having an impact on digitisation in the construction and real estate industry. Investments in internal process automation and digitisation projects have been more restrained. As a result, digital technologies are being used to a lesser extent – only Platforms & Portals are an exception here.

“The focus of digitisation shifted last year. Instead of optimising internal processes, client relationships have been cultivated and improved,” explains Baldegger. This development is understandable in view of the economic uncertainty, but the industry must be careful not to lose the digital connection even further. Baldegger adds: “The emerging changes in the area of new working models and the associated redesign of office space hold great opportunities for innovative digital solutions. It is to be hoped that this development will not only affect collaboration, but will trigger a profound change towards a transparent, democratised approach to data.”

“Digital process consistency? Wrong!”

This year’s survey focused on Building Information Modelling (BIM). Sixty-three per cent of respondents consider the use of BIM to be relevant to their business, with BIM currently seen as most important in the design and construction of buildings. “However, the added value of BIM can only be realised across the entire life cycle,” says Alar Jost, co-author and Vice Chair at buildingSMART Switzerland. The survey results indicate that the importance of digital process continuity and automation is not yet fully understood and the solution path to establish BIM as the basis for a continuous data model of the building (digital twin) in the market is still unclear.

“We now have to work on the culture, integration into the value chain and level of knowledge. So the next steps are clear: We are challenged to develop universal data standards and open technologies that stakeholders can use across the board,” says Jost, who as a BIM expert heads the relevant service unit at pom+.

pom+Consulting Ltd.

pom+ is a Swiss consulting company that provides services for real estate, infrastructure, companies and organizations in the fields of construction, facility, property, portfolio and asset management. Core competencies of pom+ include performance measurement, strategy development, resource optimization, technology deployment as well as digitalization strategies and digital solutions whereby life cycle assessment always plays a key role in all operations. More than 80 employees, most with degrees from universities and higher institutions, impress with specialist knowledge, in-depth experience and know-how from around 6,000 projects. 

pom+ was founded as a spin-off of the ETH Zurich in 1996. While still headquartered in Zurich, the company today has offices in Basel, Bern, Lausanne, St. Gallen and Frankfurt and has been advising over 600 clients in Switzerland and abroad. 

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