What is Proptech? Could it be the Industry's Savior?

What is Proptech? Could it be the Industry's Savior?

Real Estate is an ancient industry from the stone masons who constructed the pyramids and cathedrals to the male dominated bricks and mortar of the last 50 years. Society and policy makers perceive it as not economically productive, polluting, old fashioned and led by men who make excessive profits, meet at private clubs, smoke cigars and drive luxury cars. How can an industry perceived this way innovate? Could PropTech be the industry’s savior or is the perception of the industry outdated and masking a hot bed of innovation?

The vast majority of industry players we interact with are now hungry to innovate and are innovating. It may be the case that the emergence of Proptechs and new business models like WeWork have been a catalyst and woken this huge industry from its slumber. It may also be that social media has enabled the customer, the person who moves within and around real estate every day, to voice their opinion of how well or how badly it serves their and societies needs. Whatever the driver it’s a positive step and one I believe will accelerate rapidly.

There are great examples of innovation that are being driven by existing players searching for better ways to do things. 

For example ICAWOOD which through innovation is looking to address the issues with the industry’s carbon footprint. This brings me to my key point, innovation for innovations sake is not the answer to driving the industry forward. Yes people must be allowed to try and fail and success always come from learning from failure and not fearing failure. However, that experimenting and innovations needs to stem from the drive to solve a problem or grasp an opportunity.

So what is PropTech, this name that is so widely used and front of mind for the leaders of many of not all real estate players. PropTech is a description to capture the universe of mainly start ups who are utilising technology, new business models or both to disrupt or enhance the industry. It’s a very broad range of ideas, technologies and business models many of which may not be successful. However, it has created a drive and community of innovators who have the attention of the industry and therefore a great opportunity to be successful if their idea has a purpose and is addressing a need. It appears to me that behind any successful PropTech there is more than algorithms and technology. There is a response to a client need, there is a tailored made service, there is something that will ultimately try to help the end user. And I would go further, behind the great ones, behind maybe whom would be the unicorns of tomorrow there is a will to solve a problem, something dysfunctioning in society, a struggle for a community. One thing they do have in common is this willingness to contribute to the community, strengthen the social links. This is where it becomes very interesting because it is not digital innovation to disintermediate relationships and services, it is more digital innovation to create social link.

The question of trust of the industry is essential and meaningful for everyone. This industry has the privilege to touch everyone as real estate follow us throughout our entire life. It is the place we live, the place we study, the place we work, the place we grew old and die. Real estate is accompanying every one of us through our life cycle

Innovation is key and it will come from many angles including existing industry players as well as PropTech. It must be focused on solving an existing problem or creating, grasping an opportunity. It must be communicated clearly so customers, society and all stakeholders see its benefit. Absolutely key is it meets the needs of the customer and society and is connected to an industry purpose of creating places and experiences that enhance society and make a better environment for everyone.

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