While real estate businesses recognise the potential of property technology (PropTech), many appear to be unconvinced by the impact it will actually have. In an age of profound business transformation, many companies are struggling to answer the question: "How does this drive business value?"
Today's savvy real estate businesses want to learn more about how disruptive technologies — Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Augmented Reality etc — can support them and create an edge over their competitors. However, many may not realise that they are 'handcuffed' by what may be two-decades-old implementations that they have, at best, done a technology upgrade on.
This could be a HR platform, a filing system, or an operations process — anything that has become 'business as usual'. Fewer upgrades and more archaic technologies can mean higher costs and more time spent supporting them. Slowly but surely, a business will find itself unable to be as agile as it wants to be.
Wanted: PropTech partnerships
It is unsurprising then that an industry that has traditionally revolved around trust has begun looking to other sectors for collaborators. In truth, there are players in the industry have been collaborating with tech startups for years.
Take, for instance, Propell Asia, the Singapore-based accelerator programme created in partnership between JLL and Lendlease. It aims to "uncover Asia's brightest PropTech startups" and fosters solutions so that these consultancies' partners might best-anticipate change that will occur in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years.
"The majority of consulting [JLL] does in the PropTech space right now is around data — 'hygiene' projects to ensure data quality," said Ben Hamley, Future of Work Lead, Asia-Pacific, JLL, during the recent APREA-RICS PropTech Innovate 2019 conference. "Only around 20% of businesses we work with are at the stage where they can use data to make decisions. Programmes like Propell Asia allow us to be ready for when the other 80% [of businesses] are ready."