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Why innovation is crucial in the real estate industry

In our most recent Trailblazers discussion, we talked with Taras Wankewycz, founder and CEO of H3 Dynamics. Wankewycz discusses his views on innovation, his company’s thinking around smart cities and ensuring safe infrastructure, and how digitization in real estate will become crucial to the sector’s success.

Dr. Burcin Kaplanoglu, vice president, Oracle Industries Innovation Lab, led the discussion.

BK: What's your current role and how has your career evolved since you started in the industry?

TW: I am the founder and CEO of H3 Dynamics. We help companies digitize their visual inspection processes by offering condition status reports as a subscription-based digital service.

Our first focus is to contribute to the digital transformation of the building and construction ecosystem. Geographically, our main starting point is Southeast Asia, with our center point in Singapore.

I started as an entrepreneur 20 years ago and left my corporate job in Holland when I was 29. I'm a French citizen and co-founded a company with its center of operations and research and development in Shanghai, China, one year after a discovery and immersion trip there.

I visited the tallest tower at the time and was amazed to see towering skyscrapers as far as the eyes can see. I hadn't seen anything like that in my life. That had a deep impact on me, so I ended up staying in Asia to develop and launch deep tech innovations.

While I'm not a construction industry specialist, I am a science fiction fan and somewhat of a futurist. I have a vision for the future of cities, our society, and where technology is going.

After about 15 years launching zero emission energy tech products, I started working on autonomous robotics and AI-enabled digital services for enterprise users.

Smart cities and safe infrastructure

Singapore is branded as one of the smartest cities in the world, if not the smartest. The Smart Nation program in Singapore is a beacon in Asia among other smart nation initiatives.

Our company is innovating on the topic of smart cities from our headquarters in Singapore, with a goal to try and help manage the safety and maintenance of hundreds of thousands of structures across Asian mega-cities.

So much infrastructure has been building up with the rise of urbanization, so now the question is: How do we manage and ensure that all of these structures stay safe?

In Singapore alone, 90 pieces of debris fell from buildings in the past 3 years, which has led to new legislation mandating regular inspections of its building facades.

BK: What’s your view of the state of innovation in the industry?

TW: With COVID-19, and the fact we’re working from home, not many people are going to the office anymore. The real estate industry is at a difficult point of inflection. What will the industry look like in the coming years?

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"Real estate has no choice but to innovate to save costs while ensuring safety and maintaining asset value. Efficiencies in operations, including innovation and digitalization, are critical."

-Taras Wankewycz, Founder and CEO, H3 Dynamics

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This is an industry which still struggles with archaic reporting methodologies and tools—even in cities with the most modern buildings in the world.

We see an opportunity gap between where the industry should go and where the industry is today. Companies like ours are developing new technologies that apply to this industry and offer new ways of doing things.

By doing so, we also help our clients discover new value along the way. We’re generating even more ideas as we enter this arena with various new approaches and business models.

Digitalized condition monitoring

We started our journey in digitalizing the condition monitoring in the built environment to help scale up awareness on structure safety. We are now amassing knowledge on safety challenges and repair requirements on hundreds, and soon thousands, of structures at the scale of a city—or perhaps even a whole country.

We see possible new business models, including quickly, efficiently, and safely understanding what’s wrong with a structure, and are acting upon this information.

More broadly, I'm interested in creating a “closed-loop” information cycle that can track and manage the status of a structure in both the physical and digital world. This includes accompanying all the processes throughout the structure’s life to ensure the structure is safe for its occupants and society.

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"Innovation in real estate is crucial because this industry is hurting, a lot has already been built, and traditional methods have a hard time scaling."

-Taras Wankewycz, Founder and CEO, H3 Dynamics

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BK: Where do you see the biggest challenges to innovation?

TW: There’s always a growing gap between enthusiasm, great ideas, and the actual digital transformation everybody is hoping for.

That adoption piece is always the biggest challenge because the gap between technology introduction and effective adoption can also grow over time. After some time, without proper checks, it’s easy to get lost or lose track.

It’s important to make sure there's a clear business case behind digital transformation programs. Our aim is to assure that managing buildings will be scalable, safer, faster, cheaper, more precise, and traceable.

There’s a huge effort and education in getting all ecosystem participants up-to-speed and aligned on outcomes and benefits.

Working from home and using all kinds of new tools, even ordering more things online, means the world has dramatically changed. The way we interact with technology and our openness to innovation is going to help expedite adoption of new technologies and solutions – even in the most antiquated of industries.

Stay tuned for Part II, in which Wankewycz discusses emerging technologies in real estate, the role of AI and machine in bridging the physical and digital worlds, and how organizations can cultivate innovation.

Oracle Construction and Engineering, the global leader in construction management software and project portfolio management solutions, helps you connect your teams, processes, and data across the project and asset lifecycle. Drive efficiency and control in project delivery with proven solutions for project controls, construction scheduling, portfolio management, BIM/CDE, construction payment management, and more.

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