Smart ideas for a connected world
The property industry is going through disruptive changes, with technological innovations and digital solutions creating a new demand, new opportunities and new potential for value creation. Nobody knows what the property industry will look like in a couple of decades. One thing, however, is for sure: the supply and demand structures that will dominate the market of tomorrow will be more complex, and more challenging than ever before.
Consulting/Services strives to support clients in their digital transformation process to make sure they are future fit, by providing advice and digital solutions. We help to make processes simpler, to connect market participants and industries, to optimise the service property companies provide to their customers and to establish new business models – to the benefit of our clients.
Mr Ortmanns, the housing, energy and utilities industry is undergoing radical change. Where do you see the biggest challenges for your clients?
It is now common knowledge that technological advances are fundamentally changing business models, needs and supply patterns and most of our clients have already more or less responded intensively to increasing digitalisation. However, there are a large number of changes taking place in parallel: in addition to digitalisation, examples range from demographic change, the trend toward internationalisation and outsourcing, the availability and use of more and more data, the sharing economy, e-mobility, smart cities, and sustainable development to the change in energy policy. I believe that taking all these changes into account to be able to continue operating successfully as a company in the housing, energy and utilities industry is currently the greatest challenge facing our clients.
What does Aareal Bank offer to help its clients with this?
Our forward-looking consulting and services guide our clients through this ever more complex environment. We aim to be a pioneer and a partner by their side in the digital age and to provide them with new development opportunities alongside their established business. That is why we see ourselves as business enablers for our clients. Our international nature enables us to leverage models and experience and adapt to the markets of our clients.
What form do these services take exactly?
We offer our clients a whole host of services. Many link the property and housing industry with closely related ones like the energy and utilities industry. First of all, this encompasses traditional payments products and services, and especially the range of services provided by BK 01 – a system which is integrated with leading ERP systems in the industry, closely connects account maintenance and accounting systems, and thus helps to comprehensively automate payments systems. We have systematically improved and expanded BK 01 over the past few years. We also recently designed and launched the Aareal Portal to enable our clients to carry out their payment transactions even more efficiently and effortlessly. Through our Aareon Smart World we offer property companies and their partners a complete digital ecosystem in which many innovative solutions are available to our clients. Examples include Aareon occupant change management and the Mareon service portal that simplifies the cooperation between property businesses and trade enterprises.
What direction is the market going in?
I am convinced that there are two areas in particular that would allow our clients to leverage much potential and added value: the first is optimisation and efficiency-boosting of business processes. This primarily applies to liaison between the industries since there are media issues and/or incompatible systems between the property industry and closely related sectors all too often. The other area is new communication processes. The way in which property companies exchange information with their customers and/or suppliers will change significantly in the years to come. Preparing for this early on will enable the benefits of digitalisation to be reaped significantly.
Our Aareal Portal has become an important gate for our clients to access their accounts with Aareal Bank. The portal supports clients in mapping their internal processes – e. g. by offering the ability to structure account access as well as read-only access and payment authorities, through the management of SEPA mandates, or by saving beneficiary templates. Within the portal, users can monitor their transactions, check their account data and manage all major payment procedures. In the future, this will include financings, investment management, communications with Aareal Bank, strategic planning, and much more.
Aareal Portal is a web-based application. As such, there is no need for clients to install additional software. The Portal also allows for accounts held with other banks to be included. An intuitive user experience, together with numerous useful functions such as collective orders, SEPA mandate management or a list of recipients, will make banking through Aareal Portal even more efficient, flexible an transparent.
"Unfortunately, it is not a given that you can integrate accounts held with third-party banks into corporate client platforms, to make sure you stay on top of things. For us, the clearly-structured Aareal Portal is the best solution in this respect as well."
A. P. Thomas Moraux – Shareholder, 1 Berlin x GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin
Users can customise the interface to meet their own ideas, and of course clients may grant different rights to different users. Thanks to its online availability, they are able to access Aareal Portal from any location, any device and at any time. In addition, Aareal offers an app – Aareal Sign – for signing off payments in the Aareal Portal from a smartphone.
"Not only is Aareal Portal a better structured and clearer to use alternative than many other payment platforms, it also comes with great value-adding features. Just one example: I can now sign off payments whenever necessary, no matter where I am at that point in time."
Armin Ziegler – Managing Director, Ziegler & Ziegler Immobilien und Verwaltung GmbH, Munich
Aareal BK 01
Aareal BK 01 offers account management systems that reflect the Company’s individual business model, secure and easy-to-use electronic banking functionalities, and many other advantages relating to incoming and outgoing payments. Aareal BK 01 is a system for automated payment transactions and relevant processes, and is closely intertwined with the leading ERP systems of the housing and energy industry. For many years, it has been the dominant integrated payment solution in the property and housing industry.
To improve data exchange between the property and housing industry on one side, and energy and waste management on the other side, we have expanded our BK 01 family to include BK 01 immoconnect and BK 01 eConnect. The aim is to better align the processes between these two industries, and ensure efficiency in data exchange.
BK 01 immoconnect
BK 01 immoconnect for the energy and waste disposal industry is the perfect counterpart to BK 01 Operating Cost Management for the property and housing industry: it allows for a broadly automated data process in the billing of electricity, gas and water supplied by utility providers to housing enterprises, as it reduces the high manual workload that comes with a large number of properties and tenants (for example when managing advance payments on utilities and making out the final invoices, or when allocating lump sum payments to various lines of utilities consumption).
BK 01 eConnect
With BK 01 eConnect, energy and waste disposal enterprises can issue their electronic invoices in a systematic, standardised and automated manner. The relevant data can be compiled according to individual requirements and in various formats.
BK 01 eConnect supports all major file formats and modes of transmission so that invoicing data can easily be exchanged between various systems. This reduces the high manual workload associated with preparing electronic invoices for one customer at a time.
During the year under review, we further improved both of these cross-sector products to make processes leaner and increase their scope of application.
BK 01 for local authorities
Local authorities charge their clients from the property, housing, energy and waste disposal industries with many different types of levies. The complexity of this process results in a high administrative workload – and therefore in high costs – both for the local authorities, and for the relevant companies. Efficiency can be enhanced where action for further digitalisation is taken.
Our BK 01 is a well-established product family dedicated to efficient solutions for digital payments and invoicing systems, so it is only natural to expand it to include a solution for local authorities. This solution will be connected with the existing systems for the property and housing industries, as well as – later on – with the system for the energy and waste disposal industry. Amongst other features, BK 01 for local authorities will allow for payments and debits of various levies to be automatically integrated into property management accounting.
Aareal Exchange & Payment Platform
As digitalisation has accelerated over these past years, the market for alternative methods of payment has grown too. More and more payment methods have become available above and beyond traditional bank payments such as transfers or debits. A vast number of payment solution providers have developed individual processes and interfaces, largely for their own systems.
With our Aareal Exchange & Payment Platform, we would like to enable our clients to manage all major payment solutions in their ERP system – with no need to integrate various payment methods into their respective systems on a project-by-project basis, saving time and money. Users of the Aareal Exchange & Payment Platform can increase customer satisfaction and improve payment behaviour by offering their own clients numerous innovative payment options, while also optimising their own processes.
Digital applications have changed our daily lives: we communicate, shop and pay using interconnected services and are online most of the time, both in our professional and private space. The property industry is no different. Here, digital solutions generate significant efficiency enhancements and give rise to new business models, services and processes.
Aareon Smart World is Aareon’s digital eco-system for property industry enterprises and their partners: it brings together the industry’s different players. This includes linking the data streams of the landlords, tenants and service partners registered on this platform with each other, using uniform standards and powerful interfaces, so that data and other information can be exchanged frictionlessly. With this approach, Aareon Smart World offers more transparency, more comfort and faster processes, while also opening up new business models for property industry enterprises.
Aareon Smart World provides the digital platform to manage complex structures and correlations. Both the complete customer management cycle and the various business processes found in the property industry can be managed at every step along their way: from property viewing to signing a rental agreement, from landlords communicating with management agents, tenants with owners and service partners, to terminating a rental agreement. With Aareon Smart World, a lack of interfaces, multiple entries of data that has already been digitalised and inconvenient workflows are things of the past.
Mareon is a web-based service portal which connects property companies and craft trade enterprises on a virtual platform. Data which has been compiled once can, henceforth, be used by all contracting parties; furthermore, parties involved are able to determine the order processing status at all times, reducing administrative expenses, accelerating processes, and leading to higher transparency – to the benefit of all parties.
Specific savings potential depends on the depth of processing, with which the collaborating partners incorporate the portal into their workflow. However, experience shows that using the portal saves between 40 and 70 per cent of time required for invoicing processes, and reduces processing cost per invoice by up to 50 per cent.
Mareon has been continuously expanded, since it was established more than 15 years ago. The Mareon tradesmen connection comprises a qualified digital signature, the electronic file (a separate archive is no prerequisite), and the opportunity to obtain quotes. The Mareon web app allows craftsmen on the job to access their orders, and further process these orders at all times, e. g. by uploading photographs. In future, Mareon will also support inventory data maintenance; craftsmen will, for example, be able to capture newly created elements when preparing the invoice, and transfer them into the ERP system Wodis Sigma when sending the invoice.
In the meantime, approximately 300 property companies managing more than 2.65 million units use Mareon, along with more than 8,500 craft trade enterprises; to date, 24 million orders and invoices have been settled via the solution.
"We are making savings of between 800 and 1,600 man-hours per year."
Thomas Klapdor – Member of the Management Board of Viersener Aktien-Baugesellschaft AG
Occupant changes frequently involve significant efforts, with a variety of data to be collected as part of the handover. This includes meter readings to be documented; in the event of a vacancy (i.e. when the new occupant does not move in on the same day that the previous occupant moves out), this needs to be forwarded to the utility and the metering service. In this case, the housing company has to take over the contracts for the vacancy period – however short it may be.
"Techem’s definition of plausible intervals for meter readings and the electronic trans-mission of values significantly reduces susceptibility to errors."
Harald Lehmeier – Head of Product Management – Digital Services at Techem Energy Services GmbH
Nowadays, data is exchanged manually, whereby companies often miss relevant deadlines for the transfer of information – or processes cannot be started due to missing information. The number of cases requiring clarification is high; researching facts involves significant efforts for all businesses involved. Often, end-customers are no longer available to clarify facts.
"We use Aareon Occupant Change Management for an automated data exchange with the public utilities or the heating cost service company. Within this context, we rely on Aareon. The company cooperates with the partners, sets standards, and ensures the correct exchange formats are prepared. In-house programming cannot accomplish all of this."
Thomas Harry Strecker – Rheinwohnungsbau GmbH
Aareon has embarked upon in-depth cooperations with numerous other enterprises in order to further expand its range of digital solutions within the Aareon Smart World. This includes PropTechs: collaboration particularly with young start-up enterprises enables Aareon to seize the latest ideas and innovations for the property industry at an early stage, turning them into ground-breaking, value-adding solutions for its clients.
Yespark is one of the PropTechs that Aareon entered into a partnership with in 2018: the French start-up has developed an app offering parking spaces within private residential complexes to vehicle drivers. The Yespark network currently comprises more than 25,000 parking spaces which users can rent in underground car parks across the country.
"Yespark filled 80% of the parking places they handle for Valophis while these parking places had been vacant for a long time."
Arnaud Suard – Marketing and Quality Director Groupe Valophis
Using the app, drivers can see available parking spaces which they can book via their smartphone. Once they have made a booking, the app will provide the exact details, as well as access to the private car park, with the fee charged via the app. Since app users searching for a parking space identify themselves in this manner, YesPark ascertains quality, cleanliness and safety – whilst providing housing enterprises with revenue through renting out unused parking spaces. The environment benefits as well: shorter searches mean less fuel consumption as well as reduced noise and pollution. A true "win-win-win" situation.