Kowni Technologies Making Technology More Accessible in the REFM Domain

CIOReview Team

Indian Corporate Real estate has started growing at rapid pace, during the last one decade, and was one big black box as many have vague or no idea as to how the whole system works. The real challenges are associated with regulatory and compliance issues.  But, the biggest challenge on the tenant side is to understand how the whole commercial real estate system works. Due to the IT boom in Indian corporate world, market had started adapting global standards in Corporate Real Estate and has brought various processes which were proven & accepted on the global front.  And in turn, this shift towards best practices has given confidence to many MNCs to enter the Indian arena.

Big corporates & Tech giants expect the same campus atmosphere as present in their overseas offices in US/UK, when they arrive in India. This has made the global real estate firms to work on enhancing the local standards by raising the bar and the work towards bringing the infrastructure to global standards.  Technology has become the catalyst to clear opacity and bring in transparency while reducing risk parameters since what is not visible is considered as risk for many companies. Comparing product based factories that run on machines to human factories that run for IT/ITES works, filled with hundreds of manpower - it is more difficult to manage human factories than a factory of machines! This runs into handling in-tangible requirements, for which there are not set standards or specifics. How does one streamline these requirements; understand the exact necessity of the client and give proper support; how does one provide a better working environment and operating conditions so that these employees perform well!?  To answer all such questions and setting new standards in the Real Estate industry is, given birth to Kowni Technologies, a Canadian headquartered technology company, with it’s Indian office in Bangalore.

Kowni is a start up venture by REFM industry leaders, who have successfully managed huge real estate portfolios for few of the major Fortune 50 companies across the globe and also internationally acclaimed leaders in REFM industry. Kowni offers technology solutions through ‘On-Cloud’ (SaaS) mode as well as Enterprise mode, making technology accessible for REFM / Corporate Real Estate teams.  The company has emerged with a concept of balancing real estate functional expertise with that technology requirements, as most of the tech companies offering technology solutions lack the functional expertise and what is required on the ground by the REFM / CRE professionals.

REFM technology requirements are not the priority for many companies and CIOs / CFOs often think twice about its necessity as well investement. The decision is often in doldrums as to if one of the service providers (ISPs) bring in the same solution along with the manpower! Another thought that linger on CXO’s mind is, can we replace the technology by deploying head count to do the job, manually! These are questions that come to the CIO’s mind when budgeting the Real Estate & Facilities Management Software requirements.  Kowni founders understand this myopia on REFM/CRE requirements by many CXO’s  and brought the products on SaaS mode, which are in-expensive in a way that do not raise the eyebrows of CXO’s or key stakeholders of the organization. Kowni Technologies keep the costs optimum that it can compete with the cost of a one person team also. Besides that, the company also give better opportunities to manage functions, identify the risks, stream line operations, and make sure that the regulatory and compliance requirements are met with.

Kowni is offering various online products to support REFM / CRE industries across the globe. Some of the tools are,

• Space Management (OptiDesk)

• Asset Management (My Asset Manager)

• Biling & Tracking (Receivables) Management

• Helpdesk Management with Mobile Apps

• Visitor Management (Registro – A free of cost application)

• Budget Tracker on BOMA format

• Fleet Management System

IoT for Building Management - Optidesk

Today, Corporate work stations are operated from different locations and that requires huge investment to maintain the same. While conducting many surveys across organizations, Kowni team found out that the actual utilization of the workstations is between 60-75 percent. To address this wastage & maximize the work station utilization, Kowni Technologies developed a patent pending technology for Work Space Management, called Optidesk. Optidesk is a technology solution for Smart Workplace / Portfolio Management; designed on the concept of Internet of Things (IoT) for Smart Buildings. In a typical office environment, work-station occupancy costs rank as the second highest on the CFO’s operating expenditure next to employee salaries; Globally, work-station seat management costs range up to a whopping USD 10,000 ~ 15,000 per annum per seat. Before a client decides on investing on new capital expansion, OptiDesk helps delaying the capital investment requirement by optimizing the seats in the existing building. Be it flexi-desking (hot desking for temporary seat requirement), permanent desking or meeting rooms, Optidesk help users log into the office space and obtain real time data on occupancy levels at all times on the office floors, without any external gadgets. Space planners & Portfolio managers can create their own office environment by dragging / dropping seats and other facilities on the floor plan image. OptiDesk’s uniqueness lies in the product’s simplicity and no-CAD related requirements. Floor plans in any image format can be digitized in OptiDesk giving a real time comparison on seat occupancy at any given point of time, at a click of button. Depending on the organization’s requirement, an employee’s profile picture can also be tagged and managed through. Corporates can track & compare the occupancy across the global facilities, to individual work-station.

Individual Workstations Served by Optidesk Permanent Desks

We made the technology simple for space planners to organize/re-organize the permanent seating space; with added provisions to create Chinese-walls across different departments. Planners can add delete workstations by DRAG & DROP feature, anywhere on the floor plan.

Flexi Desks

We help employees book their work-stations online, on the floor plans in hot-desking / flexi-desking environment. OptiDesk also provide alerts through SMS/emails. CRE/FM teams can track the real time consumption of space allotted for flexi-desking from the dash boards and can optimize space upto 25 percent.

Meeting Rooms

No more pain in booking meeting rooms and track, if the rooms are not being used after booking! OptiDesk helps CRE / FM teams to manage this important feature, which would help bringing in better meeting room utilization across the organization. Meeting-room booking requests are confirmed through MS Outlook compatible schedules, and can go directly to the attendee’s outlook calendars. All customized features can be incorporated with a live image of meeting room.

Property Management Solutions

There are multiple assets that are installed in corporate buildings / facilities and these assets need to be maintained over a period of time. Quite obviously, REFM being a versatile market comprises of people from different domains under a single umbrella. Individuals from civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, hotel management, security, janitorial etc., join this profession, thereby expanding the role of facilities manager to fathom. For a procurement process REFM managers deal with multiple contracts across the facility ranging from pest control to housekeeping and electrical contracts.  So in terms of maintaining these contracts, Kowni’s systems can help immensely in consolidating and maintaining the contracts. The systems can also provide regular updates 3/6 months before the product expires. Kowni’s Contract Management System help managing vendor contracts across all properties/ asset locations. It helps tracking effective contracting periods, renewals, tracking warranty / DLPs of Capital equipment / AMCs, cost comparisons across different vertical supporting functions and horizontal property/ asset locations. This tool provides the transparency on spent by the property / facility managers in managing the assets.

Most MNCS today, follow the BOMA format for their real estate operations. Originating from United States, BOMA states that when one agrees for a particular budget for a particular scenario, it is important to trace the performance and other variability from time to time in terms of fluctuations in the budget perspective.   In India, however this is not a common scenario and there is a budget which is allocated to the individual units. But in the real estate space one needs to look into the variance from time to time as it will help in understanding the areas where the issues actually emerge. The Budget analysis module from Kowni Technologies assists in creating periodical budgets for capex / opex of various assets under management, in BOMA format. This tool can be integrated with any other universal accounting package to pull data and to generate reports. It has a facility to pull historical data and budget reports for analysis purpose and help in understanding the agreed budgets and variance, track variance on a periodical basis to ensure the assets are maintained as per the agreed budgets. Also, this variance provides online information through dashboards, to understand any anomaly in the expenses accrued on the property / asset locations.

Most of the companies usually archive their site documents after 3 years and store in physical boxes. This leads to people not having the information at the finger tips when required. The Lease Administration & Planning Solution “Lease Ignite” by Kowni offers the REFM managers and tenants to track leases, various key clauses, send alerts and additional information as agreed with the leasing documents. Lease ignite also becomes a ready reminder for the REFM managers and tenants to get the information at the right time and raise / pay the invoices as per agreed payment cycle. Also, the company provides a Lease management portal where one can create their lease portfolio.

“Response for our technology products was slow in the initial stages but we grew gradually with opportunities to work with international companies and, got quick support from the local MNCs and government entities to add in our Client portfolio” says Rao Srinivasa. Rao is Co-Founder CEO and is an Engineer & IIM-K alumni, worked earlier in TI Cycles, TI Daimond Chains, Ford Motors Company (India & Asia), Jones Lang LaSalle (Asia & India) & Goldman Sachs, before setting up Kowni Technologies., which is head quartered in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Rao has further co-founded other companies, ServizePro Technologies in India (an App based home services company currently operating in Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Nellore & Amaravathi) and Volta Motor Corp (an electric auto company, head quartered in Delaware, US and operates as Volta Automotive India, launching it’s first 100 percent electric auto rickshaws in India by 2017). Rao is a global speaker participated in various events organized by IFMA, Corenet Global, Global FM Conference on Facilities Management, Corporate Real Estate, Data Centers, Critical Environment Management, Strategy & Leadership. Rao has the back ground of Six Sigma Black Belt &,  Deployment Director, ISO 9001 Lead Assessor & QS 9000 Lead Assessor, and brought these quality standards to Kowni’s product offering. He has the honors of getting awards / recognisations as Member Leadership Executive (MLE from Harvard Leader Square) & MRICS (Member Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) to name a few.

Kowni offers majority of it’s products on SaaS mode (With monthly costing structure). Oflate, the company has also started offering technology products as one-time purchase, to accommodate specific client requirements. Kowni is also offering some of the technology products like Visitor Management (Registro) to customers at free of cost.

Kowni is built with the professionals coming from the real estate industry. Kowni Technologies is originated from Waterloo-Kitchner, Canada with an entrepreneurial passion and desire to support the global Real Estate / Facility Management industry (RE/FM) with the right tools at an affordable cost. REFM industry being a recession free industry, will continue to witness cloud enabled customizable products from Kowni Technologies, to take the Real Estate domain with a storm.