CXOtoday agreed to an exclusive interview with Ketan Bhokray, Chief Technology Officer, Urbanrise (an Alliance Group company)
- How has technology transformed the real estate sector, and what are some examples of traditional practices that have been transformed by technological advances?
In recent years, the speed of technological progress has been remarkable. In particular, breakthrough advances in AI, the metaverse, and blockchain are reshaping the real estate landscape, offering unprecedented transformative potential. Blockchain, for example, is ushering in a new era in which land fractional ownership will become affordable and accessible around the world. Meanwhile, the Metaverse introduces an exciting dimension, allowing prospective property buyers to experience future spaces before handover. The power of AI further contributes to this narrative, making it easier for businesses to accurately reach the right audience and anticipate existing customer concerns before they surface. This convergence of AI, metaverse and blockchain is reshaping real estate into an innovative frontier ripe for positive disruption.
- What is the company’s experience in navigating technological advances in the real estate industry? How have these changes impacted market trends, client expectations and investment opportunities?
Urbanrise has boldly embraced the Metaverse to establish itself as one of India’s pioneering real estate companies by providing clients with an unparalleled walkthrough experience. Seamlessly integrated Oculus-based metaverse walkthroughs into customer journeys for all new projects. At the same time, we have assembled a top-tier in-house AI team to ensure we remain at the forefront of AI advancements. This transformational journey has not been without challenges, but it has helped us redefine our approach. As we navigate uncharted territory, our main hurdle has been deciphering how to leverage these technologies to maximize customer and business value. Achieving this balance required careful planning and adaptability. Our commitment to advancing technology underscores our dedication to improving the customer experience and sustaining business growth.
- Blockchain adoption, sustainable building practices, and IoT integration in construction have been identified as future technology trends in real estate. How do you expect these technology adaptations to have the most significant impact, and how is Urbanrise preparing to take advantage of them?
Even with the current volatility of the cryptocurrency market, the potential of the technology is still great. Despite market cycles, the start-ups are dedicated to developing innovative products, which are expected to yield favorable results in the near future. India’s endorsement of blockchain technology hints at future disruptions, especially in land registration and land split sales. The establishment of an innovation team composed of top talent from leading research institutes in India underscores our dedication to pioneering projects at the forefront of AI and the Metaverse.
- What are some of the major challenges that developers, investors and buyers may face due to the rapid advancement of technology in the real estate sector? And what opportunities will these challenges create? are you thinking?
The rapid pace of technological progress is increasing day by day. Staying up to date with these advances is a major challenge for all businesses. Failure to leverage these technologies to deliver a first-class customer experience in this space risks falling behind. The current crossroads calls for a paradigm shift in thinking about innovation – an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction. AI has great advantages, but it is essential to recognize the potential of job automation. Nonetheless, effective management can turn this scenario into an opportunity to upskill your employees, allowing them to contribute significantly more value to your organization.
- How do you balance the introduction of new technology with keeping the traditional values and practices of the real estate industry intact?
For the majority of people considering buying a home, the choice to invest in real estate has a significant emotional and financial impact. Technology will undoubtedly streamline operations, but maintaining human connections remains a top priority. Urbanrise is committed to embracing cutting-edge technology while maintaining our customer-centric values. Our unwavering focus is on putting the customer at the center and leveraging technology as a tool to improve the customer experience. A blend of innovation and humanity defines our approach, ensuring that our guests receive the highest quality care and attention they deserve in the midst of technological advancements.
- In terms of customer expectations, how are technology-driven innovations impacting what buyers want from real estate? Are there any trends?
The real estate landscape has been reshaped by technology-driven innovations, which have greatly increased customer expectations. Today’s buyers are tech-savvy and have high demands on the integration of technology into their properties. As tastes change, the trend to virtually explore properties before visiting them in person is gaining momentum. In particular, sustainability has emerged as the most important consideration when buying real estate. Buyers are now prioritizing eco-friendly features that minimize environmental impact and reduce utility bills, reflecting a growing awareness of sustainability. This synergy between technology and sustainability means a significant shift in client priorities in the real estate sector.
- Are there any particular geographies or markets where you think technology is having a particularly transformative impact on the real estate sector? What makes these geographies stand out in terms of technology adoption?
Globally, technology is impacting the real estate industry in both developing and developed markets alike. In developed markets, technology has democratized access to land, making it accessible to everyone in the world. Conversely, developers in countries like India leverage their robust internet infrastructure to quickly grasp trends in the metaverse and showcase their projects to global audiences. India has seen early adoption of technology by governments and developers in southern states, but then the north has caught up and now we are seeing healthy adoption of technology by developers across the country.
- Looking ahead, what excites you most about the potential of technology to further enhance the real estate industry? Are cutting-edge innovations on the horizon that you believe will redefine how the real estate business operates?
Many of today’s breakthrough innovations, such as the Metaverse and AI, are still in their infancy and have immense untapped potential. Generative AI, with its ability to automate the highest levels of creativity for marketing, serves as a promising avenue. As 5G advances and VR headsets become more accessible, the Metaverse could expand its reach into Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets, creating new opportunities. Beyond generative AI, the concept of autonomous AI agents that support sharp decision-making by executives opens up even more possibilities for improving business efficiency and effectiveness.
- With the rise of the metaverse, how do you see it changing the real estate sector? What role do you see virtual properties playing in this evolving landscape?
Metaverse’s first application streamlines remote flat view and improves convenience for customers. However, the metaverse property holds vast untapped potential. New vistas are now emerging in which these spaces foster social connections. As it matures, the virtual metaverse community is poised to thrive and foster social interaction and sharing of experiences. As users come together, they engage, connect, and interact within these virtual realms, revealing promising aspects of the evolution of the Metaverse.
- As technology blurs the lines between the physical and digital realms, what opportunities do you think the Metaverse presents for property developers and investors? How can you capitalize on this new paradigm?
The metaverse concept opens up new avenues, enabling the creation and sale of virtual properties. It also offers the opportunity to diversify its investment portfolio by establishing virtual stores, event spaces and offices, appealing to companies looking for an immersive experience. In addition, there is also the possibility to explore virtual tourism, creative zones and advertising possibilities.
- The metaverse has the potential to create a whole new market for virtual real estate. How can the Metaverse improve the buying and selling experience for property seekers? How can virtual property tours and immersive experiences influence customer decision-making?
Emerging markets have embraced the metaverse wholeheartedly to improve customer experience. Innovative startups now offer virtual property tours and immersive encounters, allowing buyers to explore properties from a distance. Additionally, some companies are developing virtual visualizations for home customization. This will increase access to virtual real estate, combined with real-time agent interactions to help buyers make informed decisions and expand the global reach of sellers. These advancements will revolutionize the way we approach real estate, streamlining decision-making, enhancing engagement and ensuring a more efficient and knowledgeable experience for both buyers and sellers.
- How do you see the real estate sector evolving over the next decade, and what role do you think technology will play in shaping its future prospects?
Over the next decade, the real estate sector is poised to undergo a dramatic transformation with technology playing a pivotal role. Virtual real estate and the metaverse are on the horizon, offering novel investment possibilities and immersive buyer journeys. Blockchain and metaverse integration, together with financial tools such as REITs, will facilitate a globally interconnected real estate environment. These advances, complemented by data analytics and AI, will play a central role in decision-making and creating customized customer experiences.