The power of really big data in PropTech


In 2018 we started building a SaaS application for our client DC20, who wanted to leverage the power of really big data in PropTech.  DC2O was founded by Peter McCarthy and Paul Clarke.

They believe that understanding the whole-of-life cost, including operational costs, is the key to asset management. Their aim is to automate WoL analysis and leverage the value inherent in data that’s generated from it.

What is Yardstick?

Yardstick is a web application created from a concept of Peter McCarty (AKA The Professor).  He has spent many years working in property and asset management focusing on analysis and supporting a Whole of Life Cost approach to asset management.

Using the only reliable tool that was available in 1998, Peter created and developed a remarkable Excel.  His model could calculate Whole-of- Life costs for assets or property with incredible accuracy.  Paul and Peter realised that the Excel model was getting close to the end of its life and they needed to take things to the next level.

Enter Syntagium.

Fast forward to 2021 and Yardstick is a fledgling SaaS offering making waves in the PropTech space.

Yardstick gives property owners a deep dive into their property costs

Yardstick is an online application that provides a better way of understanding the whole-of-life cost of a property portfolio. It’s a nifty piece of self service software and it’s damn clever too. You can analyse and compare the cost of assets over their whole life span.

For example, you can compare the whole-of-life cost of a range of different floor finishes to find out which one has the lowest overall lifetime cost. You can take the same approach with any type of asset or component of a property.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can analyse millions and millions of assets across a complete portfolio of buildings.  Yardstick will tell you how much money you’re going to need to set aside for various assets, levels or buildings for every year for the next 50 years or so.

This information is immensely powerful information but incredibly hard to work out manually.

The benefits of being a Microsoft Startup

DC2O is on the Microsoft Startup program.  They have access to a whole range of free resources on the Azure Platform.  The choice of architecture was a no brainer.  We had to design Yardstick around the Microsoft stack and leverage all the tools that we could under the Startup Program.

From the bottom up, everything is Microsoft and sitting on Azure.  Check it out!

One of the challenges with this project was visualising property data.  Peter loves Power BI and he really wanted to help his clients explore their data in as much detail as possible within Power BI.

Created with the Microsoft Stack

Yardstick has plenty of graphs built in but it doesn’t give users the ability to slice and dice their data from every aspect (it’s on the road map for later this year).

We built the solution in the Microsoft stack so it’s got a SQL Server back end.   Power BI just loves SQL Server.

The Professor needed access to the data in the database but because there’s so much data, millions and millions of rows, we couldn’t just connect Power BI, straight to SQL Server.

Practically we could, but because there’s so much data, it would put a massive strain on the server and the end users would be affected.

Also, it wouldn’t be that quick. SQL is quick but it ain’t that great.   It’s not the kind of quick we needed.  We needed the data to load as close to instantly as possible.

The solution?

We leveraged Azure Data Factory, perfect for really big data in PropTech.

Visualise 3 million rows in 4 seconds? You bet!

The data for each client within DC2O is securely extracted from the SQL backend and dumped as a series of flat data files into a dedicated client data storage blob.

All the Professor had to do was connect his Power BI App to the blob for each client and then he had access to every single data point for all of their portfolios at his fingertips.

DC2O now present their client data in a really, really rich way.  Peter has created some amazing interactive dashboards that show the Whole-of-Life costs of property portfolios from every angle. You can see everything from a high level portfolio view right down to the annual cost profile of a single asset.  It’s literally got everything plus the kitchen sink!

That’s the power of really big data in PropTech.

If you are interested in seeing some examples, get in touch with Peter.  He’d love to show you what we’ve built.