How IRC Retail Centers Leveraged Geospatial Data and Power BI to Improve Property Tours

How IRC Retail Centers Leveraged Geospatial Data and Power BI to Improve Property Tours


IRC Retail Centers owns and operates open-air neighborhood, community and power shopping centers located in the Central and Southeastern United States. For more than 25 years, the company’s mission has been to help retailers quickly establish, grow and improve their market position across markets with diverse economies and robust demographics.

To make the best property tour experience with prospective clients and investors, IRC wanted to create a one-stop-shop for easy, mobile access to their property data.

IRC had already made significant investments in a data warehouse and cube and was leveraging Esri and ArcGIS (geospatial and mapping analytics software) for property tours. Using ArcGIS StoryMaps, tenant floorplans were mapped and used to explain tenant distribution for each property. IRC found the desktop application and data were extremely useful, but unfortunately not available for another year* in the mobile platform.

Obstacles to Meaningful Property Tours

In a fluctuating, highly competitive real estate market it’s critical to maintain a level of transparency throughout the entire process so that a prospective tenant or investor can determine if the property is truly a good fit. The property tour is your chance to make the biggest impression.

IRC identified top obstacles to overcome that would significantly improve property tours. They had inconsistent manual data entry and retrieval processes which prevented them from reaching their full potential.

  • The aggregation of JD Edwards (JDE) data was done by uploading PDF reports sporadically, which were manually intensive and often had outdated information.
  • Geospatial data (longitude and latitude location), JDE and BI data were all entered manually in Esri, which was inefficient and error-prone.
  • Map and tenant space information were available in Esri and JDE, but not available offline or on mobile devices for another year.
  • Data was not consolidated, nor presented in a user-driven experience with business questions in mind.

Project Objectives

To overcome their current obstacles in creating meaningful property tours with prospects, IRC had the following anticipated outcomes:

  • Create a one-stop-shop for easy, mobile access to IRC property data
  • Reduce effort to aggregate and report on data
  • View properties in near proximity for property assessments
  • View property data in the context of a map by building and tenant (i.e., integrated user experience)
  • View and access competitor property data in the context of proximity or a map

IRC approached BDO Digital to recommend technology that would fit their business model and create more meaningful property tours with prospects.

Partnering for Success

With BDO Digital’s depth of resources and knowledge of real estate data analytics best practices, IRC was in the right hands. BDO Digital’s data analytics experts worked closely with IRC to understand what data is most important to prospective tenants and investors during a property tour. BDO Digital then performed an assessment of IRC’s current processes and investigated their options.

Assessment and Recommendation Process

BDO Digital reviewed many options and facilitated calls with third-party partners to make an unbiased recommendation.

  1. Property App Enhancements – the software enhancements efforts are too large to justify.
  2. Custom App Build with Esri Partner – there was risk in parallel development with in-flight platform updates scheduled for the following year.
  3. Custom App Build with BDO Digital– the effort was too large to justify considering existing investments.
  4. Power BI Dashboards – sourced from the existing data warehouse (recommended).

Data-Driven Insights Anytime, Anywhere

Ultimately it was determined that Power BI’s mobile dashboard and offline capabilities would support the property tour reporting requirements in the most efficient, cost-effective manner. Leveraging the existing data warehouse would be possible with minimal data additions and recent offline and user experience improvements to the Power BI user interface resulted in the most pragmatic solution.

The StoryMaps were incorporated into Power BI and each report includes an interactive map of a property, along with the parcels IRC owns. They can simply click within the map and side panels to open the data they need – rent rolls, lease abstracts, CRM, Parcels linked to each County’s Assessor and Tax Portal, Property Capsule, etc. They’re also able to bookmark the reports they access most.

The design is built around referencing internal (and some external) data in one location, quickly.  If they need to access StoryMaps separately, they can either be accessed through SharePoint via an Excel document or through Power BI via Azure Storage Bins.

Instead of taking 10 steps to find what we’re looking for, now it only takes 1 or 2 steps. We save a lot of time which means more work can get done, resulting in more revenue generated. The Power BI report is the only report that references everything I need, whenever I need it. I call it the Mothership 2.0!

– Andy Henry, Director of Portfolio Analytics/GIS, IRC Retail Centers

With a solid foundation in place, IRC is working on their second and third iterations of reporting that centralize more data from other sources.

*As of April, 2016.

Article first published November 05, 2019