Demystifying Robots-as-a-Service for the Commercial Real Estate world

You’ve probably heard of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Office 365 is a great example: instead of installing Microsoft’s suite of collaboration tools on individual computers, people access the software they need through a web browser, and even store their files in the internet cloud. There are a number of good reasons for doing this, from cost savings, to better collaboration, to improved quality of service, to always having the latest version.

What’s this got to do with Real Estate specifically? Well, I want to introduce you to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) delivered on a Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) basis. And specifically I want to introduce you to a Real Estate-trained robot called Rob Sparke.

RPA refers to using software robots to take over tedious, repetitive, manual work, such as capturing invoices or migrating data. Robots are better than humans at this sort of thing, and it frees up people to do more intellectual, creative, strategic work.

Now, instead of you, as a Real Estate organization, developing and installing a business process automation engine yourself, you work with a software specialist such as Open Box, accessing the functionality of these software robots over the cloud, on a RaaS basis.

Some of the benefits of accessing RPA on a RaaS basis are quite similar to hosted software:

  • You only pay for what you need on a subscription basis, and can scale according to demand.
  • You are always running the latest software.
  • RaaS is an opex, not capex expense.

Then there are some that are more specific to the Real Estate world:

  • You don’t pay a cent until the service is deployed and working.
  • You know what the costs are at the outset, allowing you to figure out ROI in advance.
  • You benefit from your service provider’s in-depth knowledge of your industry, if you choose a Real Estate specialist. Plus your robots will be trained for your specific Real Estate processes.
  • You can do a phased roll-out: pick one or two suitable candidates for automation and get your organization comfortable with the idea before proceeding with more extensive automation.
  • You can keep your internal IT team working on mission-critical projects. They don’t suddenly have to change lane and become RPA experts.
  • Your service provider should be innovating on your behalf, so when you are ready for the next step, they’ve already built it.

When it comes to data security, RaaS has the edge over people and on-premise services.

These robots exist in a virtual environment and interact with your systems in the same way you do, in other words by logging in and using your current system front-ends.

But, they never get tired, bored or distracted and start making mistakes. They also never take confidential documents home or spill coffee on them.

Then, once your data is in the cloud, it is statistically safer than on-premise. Cloud-providers’ very reason for existing is to keep data safe. For instance, at Open Box we use Amazon Web Services — and its capabilities and budget for security are bigger than you can imagine. Or ever spend yourself.

When it comes to return on your investment, choosing the RaaS route means your RPA implementation takes weeks, not years. So it delivers an ROI far faster, resulting in a saving of 30% to 80% in processing costs on day one. Compare this with the 65% of internal RPA projects that fail for a variety of reasons. And those that don’t, only show an ROI within 18 months.

My top tips for rolling out automation in your Commercial Real Estate organization:


  1. Go the RaaS route over doing it yourself.
  2. Choose a RaaS vendor that is a Real Estate industry specialist. A specialist doesn’t need to first get up to speed about your world, instead they have spent time in the trenches and are constantly on the lookout for new, relevant innovations.
  3. The main thing to get right with any RPA project, RaaS or not, is choosing the first tasks to automate. A specialist RaaS partner will work with you to identify the best projects to pilot, and get your RPA service live quickly and successfully.



Image source: Getty images R_Type

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About Author

Dustin is responsible for the corporate direction, strategy and operational management of Automation Services, including overseeing its business development and client experience. Prior to joining Open Box, Dustin was involved as a deal transactor at a niche corporate finance and private equity firm, after which he developed a taste for technology whilst structuring, shaping and pricing large, complex corporate transactions at Accenture. He has filled various roles since joining Open Box, including heading up key accounts as well as Custom Software, before moving into his current role.

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