'Real estate industry must embrace PropTech and change'
Leaders in the real estate sector have called on the industry to adopt PropTech more quickly.
A shift towards collaboration and transparency is very much in evidence in the finance sector thanks to open banking and the rocketing FinTech scene – but property has been slower to embrace change.
Discussing the tenant experience and PropTech at a recent roundtable held by Round Hill Ventures, there was agreement that the real estate industry is still not set up for innovation.
The event took place at the offices of Round Hill Capital, a real estate investment, development and asset manager.
“The system needs to change – and that includes the way people in the sector view their jobs,” said Dr Marcus Eilers, Head of Residential Asset Management at Round Hill Capital.
“If we were able to collaborate more, exchange knowledge and learnings, this would be a big driver to change and efficiency.”
Bronny Wilson, Head of the UK and Ireland for tenant engagement technology firm Equiem, added: “There is a huge responsibility from the PropTech side on how we can better work together.
“There has already started with some consolidation - opening of APIs - and I think it is the way to go.”
Samuel Warren, managing director UK at tenant experience platform HqO, agreed. “Adopting technology or appointing innovation leads should not be a box-ticking exercise.
“A mentality shift starts from the top level and it is necessary to have people who can influence the direction of an organisation early on.”
The concept as well as the needs of a tenant is no longer the same. “When you knew your customer had to have your product, for example an office space, you could treat them any way you liked,” said Antony Slumbers, a PropTech expert and influencer.
“The difference now is that the customer no longer needs your product. He has to be persuaded of its value.”
A shift in real estate companies from product to service-based is another industry shift the roundtable agreed on.
Candice Lemaitre, Commercial development - Innovation lead at Transport for London,” said: “We’re now using technology for a much bigger scope of customer experience, placemaking, rethinking the product. The use of data to better understand, serve and advise our customers is key.”
Data reliability, accurate tenant representation and engagement are also important.
“Often, there is a disparity between what people say they want in a building and what they do. They fill out a survey for a mindfulness class and no one turns up,” added Wilson.
"It is about having a product that appeals to a large part of the population within a building. There is about 25% of any building that will just not engage.”
Dr Eilers advised landlords to use multiple ways of surveying tenants: “Start with an offline, old-school approach to in the end create something digital or you may miss out on 30% of your tenants who do not use the internet or a smartphone.”