The seventh annual property investment conference for retirement benefit schemes went down in Diani, Mombasa recently. Its theme was; ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Optimising returns from real estate.’ It could not have been better themed. In the wake of dwindling returns in real estate sector, it is imperative to leverage on the fourth industrial revolution technologies to optimise returns. But have we?
Fourth industrial revolution, also known as 4.0 or 4IR, is the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends are changing the way we live and work. It is the period beginning in 2000. Suffice to say we stand on the brink of technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate with one another.
The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedence; disrupting every industry on its course. There is no debate that we are still in the infant days of fourth industrial revolution. Howbeit, one area we must hasten its adoption in the real estate industry to optimise returns, is project management. You will all agree with me, or albeit majority, that it is no longer in question that you can get the best architectural and engineering designs in our country or even quantity surveying services that suit your needs. The waterloo remains proper execution of projects within the constrains of time, cost and quality. In brevity; project management.
In this era of 4IR, most projects especially public are still managed in the first industrial revolution methods of 1,700, where management of project was rather the result of the experience and intuition of a project manager rather than the application of scientific methods and techniques. Majority of our projects are still managed using individual's gut feelings. Hardly will you fail to hear, in a project, ego massaging statements that seek to glorify a ‘project manager's years of experience rather than techniques. We are still far away even from the second industrial revolution management attempt to programme execution of projects using Gantt chart, though there is an attempt from a negligible minority. Keep in mind that we are already 19 years into fourth industrial revolution era.
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The built environment world-wide is on the move. Environmental degradation has resulted in climate change that makes it almost impossible to predict the weather for construction projects, global fluctuation of economies threaten fix contracts and political instability around the globe is glaring, there are wars and rumours of wars everywhere. These are exceptional times that require ingenious project management techniques to optimise real estate returns. The fourth industrial revolution project management techniques is no longer an option. It allows for real-time monitoring of project execution and eliminating gaps in progress reports. Also, it has mechanisms that allow for automatic quality control of project deliverables through digitalisation of project quality control systems. Cost progress indicators are updated in real time. Acceleration of communication within projects is feasible through removal of physical communication support and increasing connectivity. Project execution can be simulated using techniques to identify and analyse risks as involving the use of large volumes of data.
There are jitters around our real estate sector at the moment. From talk of property bubble to phony developers conning unsuspecting buyers to building demolition and collapses. Yet our aplomb obstinacy to adopt current technologies in construction industry remains a real threat. To optimise our returns in real estate amid the challenging times, proper project management has to be at the core of it.
- The writer is chairman of Association of Construction Managers of Kenya. [email protected]