#PropTech resolutions for 2017

December 2016

At the beginning of last year I wrote an article, “It’s 2016 and you need a Digital Strategy”: people who already had a Digital Strategy responded favourably, but elsewhere it was largely ignored. More was written and said in 2016 about #PropTech than ever before, but in the industry at large, not much happened. In fact, the year ended with two of the most lavishly funded #PropTech companies merging, a sign perhaps that the market only had the demand to support one of them.

In the real world however (outside analogue Real Estate) technology continued to have a massive impact, to the extent that across Europe and the US the media seems to talk of little else but the end of jobs, the dispossessed and a backlash against globalisation and ‘the robots’.

The genie though is out of the bottle, and barring revolution or war (not entirely impossible with Trump in the White House – or Trump Tower or wherever else he is going to run his companies, sorry I mean the US, from) technology is an unstoppable force. We would all do better to acknowledge the good, the bad and the ugly implications of technological ‘progress’ than stick our fingers in our ears and hope it will all stop. Trump, and his protectionist like, may well mandate that ‘jobs come home’, but if they do, it’ll be the robots that do them.

But all of this is A GOOD THING. Capability Brown got his nickname because he became known for saying to a client ‘this land has great capability’; well we need to realise that humanity PLUS the incredible technology at our disposal should have us singing ‘this world has great capability’. If the world does go to hell in a handcart it will be our, not technologies, fault.

So, with this in mind what should be your #PropTech resolutions for 2017?

1. Stop talking of #PropTech; technology is not a bolt on to ‘Property’. If you are in business, you are in the technology business.

2. Don’t know much about technology? Get someone in to brief you. Keeping up with tech is not your job, but it is your job to exploit what is possible. Find out.

3. After doing No 2 you will know that near as damn it, you should be able to run your business from a phone or tablet (Marc Benioff of Salesforce tries to).

4. With No 3 sorted, feel free to laugh at competitors not fully mobile enabled. They will not be competitors for long.

5. ‘I will format any reports we write for mobile.’ What is it about the Real Estate industry that makes them upload print formatted documents, that are unreadable on a phone? Look around you; what are people looking at? Yes, their phone!

6. Double your hardware budget. Getting your workplace ‘right’ is important but equipping your team with the best possible technology is way more so. A company with great tech could succeed in a terrible office, whereas a great office is useless without great tech.

7. Sort your office out. The Stoddart Review at the end of 2016 showed only 53% of employees believe their office helps them be productive. An unproductive office is like leaving piles of cash on the table after concluding a deal. Low hanging fruit; pick it.

8. Less is more is the perfect Life/Work balance mantra. Eat less but better. Drink less but better. Take less office space but make it better. Work less but better. And use technology to enable all of this.

9. Then do More, with More. Technology gives us all leverage. More (of the right) technology will allow everyone to do more with more. If you can do X in an analogue world, you need to be looking to do X times 10 in a digital one. Countless examples of this exist. It is not fantasy.

10. Buy software that makes you more efficient – BUILD software that gives you a competitive edge.

11. Try and get rid of your IT Department. Technology needs to permeate your business, not be the butt of jokes and hidden away in the worst space in your office. Amazon does not have an IT Department; neither should you.

12. Prepare to hear everyone tell you how their software uses AI and Machine Learning to ‘insert hyperbolic phrase here’! Mostly, they will be clueless as to what that means.

13. BUT AI and Machine Learning ARE the most important technologies out there and WILL change your world. My No 1 resolution would be to learn why and how.

14. Start by hiring Amy, an AI Digital assistant (x.ai), to organise all your meetings.

15. Technology is changing the world to being ‘on-demand’, and our industry is not immune. In fact, ‘The Real Estate Industry is no longer about Real Estate’. Make 2017 the year you think about the Service you provide, rather than the Product you sell.

16. Finally, realise that whilst you probably aren’t that knowledgeable about tech, most #PropTech people know very little about Real Estate. The two sides need to converge. Let’s kill off #PropTech by 2018.

I wish you all a great 2017, and as ever, I am open to argue, debate, support and promote any smart ideas. Follow me @antonyslumbers for more.

Antony