From social media, to Netflix, to online banking, the power of technology is pervasive in both our professional and personal lives. Perhaps what is so shocking about technology is how rapidly it integrates itself into society, and in this case, the property industry is no exception. Investors that wouldn’t have looked twice at proptech solutions a few years ago invested nearly £8 billion in UK proptech start-ups in 2018.
The number of companies implementing proptech is likely to grow. A survey conducted by Property Week found that 45% of large commercial real estate companies use, or are attempting to use, data automation. Even more telling? The respondents to the survey (senior property executives in the UK) anticipate a massive uptick in the use of technology within the property industry.
For commercial property, proptech has ushered in a great wave of change, in which owners are forced to look at their buildings holistically and realise that their customer has changed. The customer is no longer simply the tenant, but the employees of the tenant. As the lines between work and life become more blurred, office buildings are changing to prioritise the needs to employees, which range from mobile device access to increased sustainability initiatives.
As surveyors, we see first-hand the positive effects that proptech has on our industry. New, digitised scanning and planning methods have changed the way we do business. Processes are streamlined, and being able to visualise buildings in different ways has helped us to increase the sustainability methods we utilise in our offices. Wellness is even becoming a priority, as proptech firms jump to solve the all-consuming loneliness that seems to characterise the millennial generation.
However, it is value, whether perceived or actual, that separates the flash in the pan proptech firms from those set to make a lasting impact. As an industry, we must shift the focus in proptech from simply solving a problem, to adding real value to the buildings that we create and the services we provide.
The answer to adding value is clear: as an industry, we must prioritise our employees and the state of our planet, as well as reducing operating costs and delivering faster and more comprehensive services to clients. Neglecting to do so could have disastrous consequences for businesses.