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Tech, capacity-building required to grow real estate post-pandemic – experts

Experts and market leaders have submitted that increased investment in technology and capacity-building are key growth and sustainability drivers in post-COVID-19 pandemic real estate and facilities management (FM) market.

The experts made the submission based on their experiences in the real estate sector as they appraised the challenges and opportunities thrown up by the pandemic.

The market leaders who gathered in Lagos for this year’s Nigeria Facilities Management (FM) Roundtable explained that the place of technology in the ‘New Normal’ in workplaces cannot be over-emphasised, as organisations need capable hands to function well in the new order.

“As businesses begin to open globally, it is now time to move out from survival mode and drive growth to be able to return the economies to the path of prosperity,” noted Wale Odufalu, group executive director, corporate services at Alpha Mead.

Odufalu added that “as an organisation that cares about the industry, we understand that real estate and FM will play key roles in this return to normalcy and that behooves that we continue to use platforms such as this roundtable to set the agenda for the role of FM and real estate in positioning Africa as the global investment destination post-pandemic.”

The Nigerian FM Roundtable is an annual thought leadership, business-to-business, and policy roundtable sponsored by Alpha Mead Facilities, the FM subsidiary of Alpha Mead Group to mark the World FM Day. This year’s edition had as theme, ‘Africa’s facilities management & real estate beyond the pandemic: new realities, new strategies’.

The roundtable provides business leaders, real estate investors, FM services consumers and sundry stakeholders the opportunity to audience with the opportunity to hear and ask questions about how organisations drove stability in a time of uncertainty. They also learn what such organisations are doing differently now to pursue growth in the face of emerging complexities in the market.

Femi Akintunde, group managing director of Alpha Mead, offered insights on his company’s journey through the pandemic, noting that a combination of a new approach to people and culture, products and services, and technologies and systems were the recipes to drive organisations within the real estate sector in Africa from stability to growth.

“Our response to the pandemic was pivoted around three key pillars of capacity, agility & resilience; these three principles will still play critical roles as new realities unfold beyond the pandemic,” he said.

“We knew that we needed sufficient capacity to stay afloat and become more efficient in what we do. We knew that we have enormous responsibilities to our employees, customers, shareholders, regulators, financial advisers, and a host of other stakeholders; so we developed frameworks, systems, products and technologies that helped us respond appropriately to the different interests of these stakeholders,” he added.

Mark Norris, director at Asset Reliability Consultant Limited, UK, affirmed that building risk-based capacity and adopting technological approaches to facilities and asset management was the path of growth for the real estate sector in Africa.

In his presentation on ‘risk-based asset and facilities management in the era of volatility, uncertainty, complexities and ambiguity (VUCA)’, Norris recommended optimising investment, balancing cost, risk and performance amid the pervasive cash crunch occasioned by the pandemic.

“In the current VUCA era, the pandemic has helped us focus on what is truly important to businesses. We look at which business processes are essential and which of the facilities/departments are most important to our business processes. Then we can look at the systems within those facilities and the assets within those systems,” he suggested.

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