There has been a huge transformation in where the industry is at over the last 12 months. Data and technology is starting to play a much bigger role in the work of a professional and there has been a move towards more data driven approaches.


This was a common theme that came out of the discussion at our Building Surveying conference, which saw industry leaders discuss the need for standardisation and consistency in the industry and provide insight into key client benefits of using data and technology to deliver real value in asset management.

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it?

The surveying industry has been notoriously slower than others to adopt new technology. So why are people beginning to take an interest now? Why should we embrace a data driven approach in asset management?

Five reasons that were highlighted include:

1. To keep up with ever-increasing client demands
2. For consistency in carrying out cross portfolios of surveys
3. For a more streamlined and effective quality & assurance process
4. Reduced risk of manual error and increased accuracy of data
5. To enable intelligent management of data to make informed decisions on investment

The key drivers for change

Two points that were made on numerous occasions throughout the discussion were:

1. The need for standardisation and consistency

The need for standards has become much more apparent in recent years, which in part has been driven by a greater need for consistency from clients. A more transparent industry through standardised data-driven approaches results in more consistent, effective ways of working and better asset data. This benefits everyone, from the property owner to the facilities manager. 

2. There has been a huge push in the adoption of technology

Data and technology is not new; it has existed within the industry for many years. However, the benefits and real value of technology is beginning to be demonstrated to professionals, from the use of tablets to the Internet of Things, sensors to drones. This has resulted in many building surveying services adopting data driven approaches, including energy auditing, legal compliance surveys, dilapidations surveys, building reinstatement cost assessments and more.

A key challenge?

One key challenge identified was that there remains within the industry a mix of those traditional clients who want written, pdf reports and those that want to see the insights gathered from the data, to be able to really understand it and dig into it. The challenge is to be agile in using technology to suit the needs of the client.

Watch the full session

3 key client benefits:

1. Giving clients a good understanding of the condition of their asset base across their portfolio

There are now much tighter obligations for asset managers to look after their assets and clients. Data and technology is able to assist owners of real estate to keep their assets in good condition and meet lease and statutory obligations.

It is also enabling property transactions to be processed much more quickly; access to information on how assets have been managed over their lifetime is resulting in transactions happening more quickly than before, a real commercial benefit. New processes & the use of technology is not being adopted just for the sake of it, rather it is delivering real value to the industry.

2. Gain a greater understanding of what needs to be spent on an asset in the coming years’

It is estimated that £50 billion a year in the U.K. is spent on asset repair and maintenance. Data-driven conversations are allowing clients to plan and evidence for where investment in assets is needed, rather than budget being awarded simply based on gut feel or to those who shout the loudest.

Data and technology is also showing where clients can afford not to spend money, releasing cash for alternative investment purposes, as well as allowing the disposal of assets to be targeted.

3. Project procurement & savings

Data driven conversations are enabling clients to position themselves in a way that looks at long term and more targeted procurement. For example, how much is needed to be spent on the roof of a building in the next 5 years? The ability to extract and aggregate information is allowing for large scale investment plans. It is estimated that there are 5-10% efficiency savings from using data to bulk buy materials needed for maintaining an asset.

What’s next?

The following were listed as just some of the technologies we can expect to see building surveyors in asset management use more of in future:

  • Geospatial information systems (GIS)
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • The “internet of place” (Smart cities)
  • Cognification (3D printing, drones, robotics, machine learning)
  • Buildings/property as a service

PropTech is now a standing agenda item for the RICS Building Surveying Board which meets four times per year. Chair of the Board, Alex Charlesworth, encouraged anyone who has an interest or would like to pose a question to the Board to get in touch.

One key message to take away?

Adopting technology is one of the biggest opportunities for asset managers to add value to clients.

Comments (1)

  1. Some familiar observations and challenges listed above, thanks. CDS witnessed them at close quarters in a recent Industry Breakfast Briefing - we documented them here:

    Michael Stephens Michael Stephens, 2 May at 10:06AM

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