Smart Student Living '24 Takeaways: Part 2

March 12, 2024


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Challenge 1: Adapting to the Evolving Customer journey/needs and optimising student experience  

Jennifer from Greystar noted that in today's digital landscape, where students rely heavily on apps to organise their lives, understanding their journey is paramount. To meet this challenge, we must leverage technology to curate personalised experiences and provide on-demand information that aligns with their evolving needs.

With this in mind, we received three unique innovative solutions from leading tech organisations to tackle this issue.  

Idea 1: the Sustainable Student Living Initiative

Eagle Eye Networks, iqbi, and Pilar embarked on an ambitious endeavour to streamline the rental process while prioritizing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations in student accommodation. Their initiative aimed to empower students to understand their consumption patterns and environmental impact, fostering self-regulation and promoting sustainability.


Positive Aspects of the proposal:

1. Education on Sustainability: The initiative emphasised educating the next generation on responsible environmental behaviour.

2. Environmental Impact Reduction: By promoting energy efficiency and responsible consumption, the initiative contributed to reducing the climate impact, enhancing profitability, and improving asset value for investors and operators

3. Transparency and Visibility: Through data and performance reports, operators and student residences can gain visibility into energy expenses, thereby allowing for transparency and informed decision-making.


Potential Challenges:

1. Consent and Privacy: Obtaining consent for data collection and ensuring privacy protection can be a concern.

2. Variability in Building Optimisation: Challenges can arise due to variations in building optimisation levels and ownership structures, impacting the uniformity and accuracy of ESG data measurement.

3. ROI Considerations: Many landlords prioritise maximising return on investment, potentially hindering investments in data and technology, particularly in regions with housing shortages.

4. Privacy Risks in Gamification: Implementing ranking and gamification features posed privacy risks, particularly if based on personalised usage data.

5. Adaptation for Old Buildings: Adapting the solution for older, smaller buildings can pose viability challenges, requiring careful consideration of feasibility and cost-effectiveness.


In conclusion, while Eagle Eye Networks, Pilar and iqbi idea offered promising benefits for sustainability and transparency in student accommodation, addressing challenges related to consent, privacy, building optimisation, and ROI considerations are critical for its successful implementation.

Idea 2: The Kinetic Student Experience Enhancement Initiative

In the era of digital transformation, technology is essential in shaping and enhancing various aspects of student life. Kinetic, in a pioneering initiative, by harnessing the power of digital platforms, aims to redefine how students interact with their living arrangements, starting from their very first online search for accommodation.  

Positive Aspects of the Proposal:

  • Streamlined Online Experience: Kinetic offers students the convenience of direct online booking, allowing them to choose their preferred living arrangements and amenities with ease.
  • Enhanced Connectivity: Through digital check-ins and community-building features, Kinetic allows to build a sense of belonging and connection among students even before they meet.
  • Access to Comprehensive Information: Kinetic provides students with all necessary and available information, thus enabling them to make informed decisions about their living preferences.
  • Equal Treatment: Regardless of when students book their accommodations, Kinetic ensures that they receive consistent and high-quality experiences, promoting fairness and inclusivity.

Potential Challenges:

  • Standardisation of Information: Ensuring that information remains relevant and tailored to individual universities and accommodation facilities presents a challenge, requiring careful consideration of varying needs and preferences.
  • Adoption and Engagement: Encouraging students to download and actively use the Kinetic app may prove challenging, necessitating strategies to enhance visibility and engagement.
  • Coordination with Housing Providers: Ensuring alignment between housing providers and universities in terms of information dissemination and communication channels poses a potential obstacle, requiring effective collaboration and streamlining who is responsible for what.  
  • Privacy Concerns: Collecting and managing student data for personalised experiences raises privacy concerns, highlighting the need for robust privacy protection measures and consent management strategies.
  • Financial Considerations: Allocating resources for technology investments and ensuring a sustainable business model amidst competing financial priorities may pose additional challenges, requiring careful financial planning and investment strategies.

In conclusion, while Kinetic's proposal holds great promise for transforming the student living experience with its all-in-one app. However, for its optimal use, it is vital to address challenges related to information standardisation, adoption and engagement, coordination with housing providers, privacy concerns, and financial considerations.  

Idea 3: Deploying Tech to Establish PBSA Standards for a Student-First Approach

Embracement along with Unite called for the need to mature the sector by establishing industry standards regarding all stages of operations, and for this, a foundational approach is crucial. Further, should organisations incur additional technical debt while updating systems? The ultimate compass guiding this decision is whether digital transformation will ‘delight’ our students. The answer lies in aligning with our ‘North Star’, i.e., by ensuring that certain standards are set in place for everyone to follow and that fundamental processes operate smoothly, operators can then shift their focus truly on enhancing customer satisfaction and elevating student experiences.  

Positive Aspects of the Proposal:

  • Alignment with Customer Needs: The initiative aims to discern and address the diverse needs of students and other stakeholders, ensuring a tailored approach to technology implementation.
  • Streamlined Operations: By agreeing on standardised data formats and operations, Embracement and Unite anticipate significant time savings and operational efficiencies.
  • Enhanced Visibility: Through the adoption of centralised asset management technology, the proposal encourages transparency and accountability in the student accommodation sector.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Emphasising collaboration and alignment across sectors, particularly with universities and tech partners, promises to leverage collective knowledge and resources for mutual benefit.

Potential Challenges:

  • Vision Alignment: Establishing coherence between board-level vision and operational execution poses a significant challenge, requiring concerted efforts to ensure alignment across all levels of the organisation.
  • Inter-Sector Collaboration: Encouraging cross-sector alignment, especially between operators and technology stakeholders, necessitates bridging knowledge gaps and aligning divergent priorities.
  • Standardisation Complexity: Balancing the need for standardisation with the inherent diversity of value propositions may disrupt consumer behaviour and business agility, demanding a nuanced approach.
  • Regulatory Variations: Navigating regulatory variations across different countries, particularly within Europe, adds layers of complexity to standardisation efforts, requiring meticulous attention to compliance and oversight.  

In conclusion, this proposal entails mapping out end-to-end student journeys and connecting disparate systems to streamline operations. Opportunities remain abundant in implementing technologies such as generative and conversational AI, low-code platforms, and robust data analytics. However, the key to unlocking their potential lies in standardised data models and cohesive workflows. Nevertheless, challenges remain: such as determining the appropriate level of standardisation, data interoperability, regulatory variations, and ultimately who is responsible for setting these standards and what they should be, especially if there are regional compliances to be followed. Striking the right balance is essential to avoid overcomplication and ensure flexibility in meeting evolving needs.

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