Data & technology: A new way of managing property

Dan Hughes

Director, Data and Information Product Management (RICS)

Technology moves fast – but the property industry does not. This is the essential paradox at the heart of PropTech. While technology has proved a disruptive force in other industries from music making to taxi hailing, the property industry’s insistence on long leases is not what occupiers want.


This was the view when we brought together industry leaders to discuss the future of working life as we know it.

Here I lay out my top five takeaways from this interesting and intriguing meeting, allowing you to peek through the curtain and into the future.

1. Occupiers value flexibility

The rise of flexible workspace providers such as WeWork, who charge much higher rents, shows how highly occupiers value flexibility.

Today’s most enlightened occupiers are laser-focused on the needs of their staff and customers, and how the real estate they occupy can help — or hinder — their business objectives.

The space needs to be adaptable – on one day, this kind of collaborative space will be needed, but on another, a private meeting room is required.

2. Data provides the key to understanding the need for change

We have realms of data; what we need to do now is analyse it for the benefit of the individual or occupier.

Any successful retailer will tell you that customer insights are the most valuable thing. But who in the property supply chain is looking at occupational data and learning from it?

3. Property advisors are best placed to be the agents of technological change

Explaining to clients why investing in technology is a worthwhile endeavour is up to property advisors; they need to be able to explain the benefits of how data can add value to the business they’re trying to run.

We need to demystify the language around data and technology. Maybe the reason people don’t understand is because we’re not explaining it very well.

4. Driverless car technology and a rise in artificial intelligence will change the future of the workplace

Global property services firm JLL has already started a pilot at its Sydney office in Australia by using a humanoid robot called “JiLL” in the role of receptionist, explained Chris Hoar, AIinFM.

Furthermore, driverless car technology is also unlocking new mobile workspaces.

It’s an interesting example of how the sense of place is going to be less around buildings in future, and more about the ‘bubble’ around an individual and the AI systems that are supporting them.

5. To attract the talent needed to ‘future proof’ property, we need to appeal to people from a tech background

We are seeing job titles common to technology businesses (such as Chief Technology Officer or Chief Data Officer) being adopted in many businesses. However big the challenge appears, we should not forget that property has always been a people business.

There are tremendous opportunities in real estate and the RICS is anxious to bring the right people with different skill sets into the profession.

Read the full report to find out what these leaders had to say about current technological trends — from flexible workspaces to intelligent buildings — as well as how data and technology, from artificial intelligence to driverless cars, is going to change the way people work in future; thus, changing the wants and needs of occupiers and investors alike.

The panel

  • Chris Hoar, AI in FM
  • Andrew Mawson, Advanced Workplace Associates
  • Josh Artus, Centric Lab
  • Neil Edmond, BT
  • Trevor Miles, IBM
  • Owen King, Unwork
  • Paul Bagust, RICS

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