An app that connects tenants with their landlords

An app that connects tenants with their landlords

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An app that connects tenants with their landlords

How We Were Able to Align the Interests of the Housing Industry and Tenants Through the Development of an App for Deutsche Telekom

One Market, Two Perspectives

Growing challenges hit the real estate market—be it new regulations, increasing tenant demands, or pressure towards more sustainability—and Deutsche Telekom faced a significant opportunity to bring two very different worlds together: On one hand, they are familiar with the needs of the real estate market, primarily through their fiber optic expansion. On the other hand, tenants' concerns are also very familiar to them, thanks to products for smart homes, the IoT sector, and families.

Against this backdrop, our partners at Telekom asked us to develop a system that elevates the relationship between landlords and tenants to a new level while simultaneously providing valuable insights for housing providers. The concept, visualizations, and prototypes we developed in this project paved the way for further in-depth user testing and now serve as a starting point for integration into the telecommunications company's smart home applications.

Finding Common Ground

It quickly became apparent that in this project, we had to target the commonalities of the two market participants to make a real contribution. On one side, we had the housing industry deeply in the midst of a comprehensive transformation: With challenges such as strict EU regulation in energy efficiency, rising energy prices, and an increasing burden on tenants due to inflation, the industry urgently needed innovations. Specifically, millions of housing units are affected by these challenges.

At the same time, the housing industry has an image problem and is not well-liked among tenants. Access to services, straightforward communication, and consumption transparency are just a few of the most urgent concerns tenants want resolved. Additionally, digitalization within the tenant's apartments is often significantly more advanced than in the hallway - and especially, a younger generation is beginning to be bothered by this.

So, we faced the problem of bringing these two worlds together. But how?

Finding Gaps, Creating Value, and Validating Hypotheses

We pursued a three-step approach to get closer to a solution: Analyze the market, develop use cases, and finally pour the insights into a concept we could validate.

1) Gaps in the Market

The first step was an in-depth market analysis. The goal was to gain a comprehensive overview of the housing industry's currently used tools, including CAFM systems (Computer Aided Facility Management), ERP systems (Enterprise Resource Planning), and various other management tools. Through a detailed analysis of these systems, we identified gaps and untapped potentials.

Eine erste Exploration der Customer-Journey

2) Connecting Communication and Energy between Tenant and Landlord Interests

Based on the market analysis results, we focused on developing use cases that specifically addressed communication and energy. We realized that, especially in these segments, there was great potential for synergies between tenants and landlords. This included solutions that enabled more efficient and transparent communication between the parties and tools that provided tenants with a more detailed insight into their energy consumption.

3) A Concept for Testing

In the third phase, we developed a concrete product concept. The focus was on integrating a tenant platform into Deutsche Telekom's existing IoT/smart home app. This app would allow tenants to contact their property management directly, submit damage reports, and view their energy consumption. Parallel to this, a digital dashboard was developed for landlords, providing a holistic overview of the managed properties—including consumption and usage data—and efficient management of tenant concerns.

Consumption and Communication – Finally, in One App

The solution significantly simplified tenants' access to services and information, enabling landlords to efficiently capture and manage key energy figures and other vital data. For tenants, it became easier to make damage reports and monitor their consumption, while landlords benefited from improved management and communication. By closely intertwining tenants' and landlords' interests, a platform was created that offered value to both sides and thus found high acceptance.

Exploration of initial designs for the tenant app
Exploration of the design components
"The quick and uncomplicated iterations in the project were great fun. Everywhere I felt the desire to really create an innovative solution!" Emanuel Schwarz, Concept Design

Lesson Learned: Focus on Common Interests

One of the central learnings was the importance of overlapping interests in multi-sided markets. The success of our approach was based on developing attractive solutions for tenants and landlords. We found that younger tenants were incredibly open to digitalization and actively demanded it. At the same time, a large part of the real estate market was under pressure from regulatory authorities, who demanded an increase in digitalization in data capture reporting and communication with tenants. This pressure led to an intersection of interests of both parties, lying in data management and digital communication.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes Sketches Suffice for Validation

Another meaningful learning was the realization that sometimes simple means are sufficient for the initial validation of our ideas and concepts. Instead of rushing into detailed design work and elaborate development processes, simple sketches proved effective in validating core assumptions – all while conserving resources. These sketches were used as prototypes to obtain initial feedback from potential users. This approach proved particularly valuable as it allowed us to quickly respond to user feedback and adapt our concept accordingly without prematurely investing in potentially costly design and development phases.

From sketches in the concept to a dummy made of sketches

Bringing Two Sides Together is Hard, But Not Impossible

This project impressively demonstrated how digitalization can make the interaction between tenants and landlords more efficient. It showed that digitalization is a necessity and a desire of the participants. It pays to analyze the different viewpoints of the market participants in advance - this ensures that development does not miss the intersection of interests.

With Deutsche Telekom, we proved with this project that we can master even the most complex challenges by bringing together different needs and creating innovative solutions.

The project now serves as a springboard for further developments in this area.