Using IoT as an Amenity

Technology is the new differentiator between multifamily properties and competitors. Felicite Moorman, CEO of STRATIS, explains how the Internet of Things offers both convenience and cost savings.

Felicite Moorman

Felicite Moorman

As you read this, there is a seismic shift occurring in multifamily and campus communities. Like most shifts in this industry, it is driven by the resident expectation. The amenities that used to attract residents to a property are no longer exceptional, but expected. In 2017, technology is the new differentiator between multifamily properties and their competitors. “Technology as Amenity” is a phrase I coined years ago, to help property owners and developers understand why building-wide Internet of Things (IoT) installs are so important for their property portfolios.

Millennial Focus 

I don’t often use generalizations, but Millennials and student housing innovations are clearly driving the push for Technology as Amenity in multifamily. I spend a lot of time thinking about Millennials and some of my highest performing employees fall in this generation. As the CEO of two technology companies and mother of three, I believe that Millennials may be the most misunderstood and underestimated generation yet. Our team is tracking the way some of the most popular smart apartment features are being embraced on college campuses. This group is on-the-go. They don’t want to carry physical keys when they are working out or running to a class. And once they learn how something can be, they expect it everywhere!

Additionally, this group has a growing segment uninterested in car ownership, unlike their parents and generations before them. They simply don’t need or want it. They have embraced public transportation, Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing programs. They consistently choose convenience over the hassle of ownership. When looking at apartment building amenities, the concept of garage or premium parking spots for the cars that they don’t have, is no longer cutting it as a top amenity.

Swimming pools also remain constant as an amenity, but contrary to popular belief, most Millennials are not spending their time there. They are experience focused (trips, concerts, etc.) rather than staying in, and they’re on-the-go 24/7. They’re focused on their careers and their side hustles—not lounging poolside.

So how do you create an amenity for this generation, and a growing number of others, who don’t care about traditional amenities in the same way, while still providing value to the properties? Time and money are the keys to this puzzle. Residents care most about saving time and property managers want to decrease their net operating costs.

Technology Integration 

Integrating energy control and access provides a faster return on investment for property managers, with features such as leak sensing, maintenance requests, and package management. Even though this thirst for technology is driven by residents, property managers and owners will benefit foremost. There is an opportunity for properties to garner revenue lift via rent increases, but there is something that is equally as important. Using IoT saves property managers time, which means an increase in net operating income for owners and increased efficiencies translate to an increase in property and portfolio valuation.

For a mobile app, residents are most interested in phone as a credential (using their phone to open their door), thermostat scheduling, remote thermostat control and lighting. Integrating with third parties like ButterflyMX, even allows residents to open the exterior doors of the property with the same app. This makes sense for both parties, because we know that the end user is experiencing app fatigue.

App fatigue is a real thing in IoT. Ask any single family home owner who has taken the time and money to create a smart home. People have control over their door locks, lights, thermostats and more, but most have to access a different app for each feature. Technology needs to be reliable, but it also needs to be user focused and friendly. This is the reason so many intelligent Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms work with and integrate with other software.

When choosing a software of any kind for your property, don’t get upsold. Not every property is ready for a full IoT install out of the gate. We understand that many properties want to start with door locks or thermostats and expand as they get comfortable with the system. We also have learned that price of the SaaS is crucial for mass adoption.

Felicite Moorman is the co-founder & CEO of STRATIS (www.stratisiot.com) and CEO of BuLogics, (www.bulogics.com) companies that pioneer groundbreaking IoT development across the globe. STRATIS is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for access, energy and automation management and control for multifamily and campus communities in Smart Cities. BuLogics designs, builds, and certifies wireless devices and solutions for the Internet of Things.