PropTech: Don’t get caught up on the buzz word

Dan Hughes

Director, Data and Information Product Management (RICS)

Technology, in some shape or form, will impact on the built environment and the surveying profession. Here at RICS, we use the word ‘PropTech’ in the broadest sense of the word referring to all aspects of innovation in the built environment and are providing the forum for discussions on how data and technology is impacting the market.


Below are some key points to take away from an interesting discussion I recently had with our partners MetaProp NYC on the way in which technology is impacting market.

1. Data doesn’t work to the same silos we are traditionally used to

Up to this point, it has generally been the case that professionals who work in different phases of the lifecycle of a building work in different ‘silos’. This has resulted in isolated data flows, matching the different career silos.

In as little as five years’ time however, we will see data flowing throughout the life cycle of a building much more effectively and efficiently. BIM is an example of how this is starting to happen already.

2. Technology comes in many shapes and sizes

In the last year or two, general awareness of technology within the built environment has grown and there is an increased appetite for a greater understanding of its impact. This has resulted in an increased influence of activity within the market.

Some of this has come from large incumbents and other activity has come from new entrants to the market; what is clear is that start-ups are growing and impacting the market far more now than they have done in the past.

3. Conversations should focus on how technology is helping the industry

There are currently a lot of conversations around technology for technology’s sake rather than how it is helping the market. This has resulted in mixed views around whether technology is an opportunity or a threat to the market; many people are simply keen to get their jobs done and ensure that occupiers are getting what they need. 

Broadly speaking however, technology is helping the industry and different parts of the market are adopting it in different ways.

4. The next five years will see an increase in the embedding of products in the market that solve problems

We will inevitably see a lot of movement in the market as it tries to find the right solutions to problems that need solving. There will be increases in return on investment and a rise in business cases for improved technology solutions.

We will see the growth of technology that is fundamentally solving problems, however large or small, succeed in the market.

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