So.. did my dreams come true?


In December last year I wrote a post entitled ‘#PropTech resolutions for 2017’. With the year almost over I thought I’d revisit it to see if my dreams came true:)

So here we go:

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

I’d say I lost the battle but won the war here. #PropTech has never been talked about so much as it has been over the last year, and my preferences aside, the term has proved very useful in marketing terms and as a tent peg off which a whole host of ideas and conversations have hung. Against that I think we are ending the year as an industry that has realised that talk of #PropTech does mean that many still place the ‘Tech’ bit in a silo and that much work is still required to emphasise the ‘If you are in business, you are in the technology business’ bit.

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.

A score draw? Perhaps, but perhaps a narrow defeat. I’ve not stopped talking tech to people in the industry, and the number of people looking to ‘find out’ has grown dramatically, but I feel there is still a lot of lip service paid to technology, with not nearly enough follow through. Real Estate is still largely an analogue industry.

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).

Total #Fail here: Running a real estate business by pdf is more likely than from a tablet:)

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

The #Fail gets bigger: until a fully digital real estate company emerges no one will be laughing at those left behind….

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!

And again, no dreams coming true here. In fact only yesterday I heard of how shockingly inefficient much of the investment sector still is, with presentations being manually put together by inserting data stored in pdfs! 

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.

Well… did you?

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.

Low hanging fruit still hanging there, waiting to be plucked. Although with a valuation ending the year at over $20 billion it could be said that WeWork has been harvesting like mad.

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.

A Win at last. Certainly in London at least there is much evidence that larger occupiers are downsizing their requirements 20-30% when given the opportunity by a lease break or end. This trend can only grow - Per head we all need a lot less space, at least in terms of long leasehold space.

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.

Another #Fail - Real Estate has not even started in doing more, with more. Combined Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have a market capitalisation equivalent to the GDP of India yet they only employ around 700,000 people, and Amazon warehouse workers form even the bulk of that. That is productivity. 

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

I am going to claim a Win here. Many people have argued this with me this year, saying real estate companies are not up to developing software and should always buy it in. But they are wrong, especially when it comes to the large companies. I’ve not seen any competitive advantage accruing to companies that buy in their software. And you won’t: you will see much consumer surplus generated but little competitive advantage. For that you need to Innovate!

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.

Think I’ve won the argument but currently a #fail - the smarter set realise they need multi functional teams with pervasive tech skills throughout their organisations but I’ve yet to see this executed on. Next year…..

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.

An outstanding Win: 100% correct on both counts.

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.

And another Win: next year this really will be BIG. 

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

A Win, though more for Alexa than Amy. 2017 was the year the idea of talking to your computer went mainstream. Kudos to Amazon.

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.

Biggest Win of the year: #SpaceAsAService is now ‘a thing’ - big and getting bigger. This is the juggernaut coming to change real estate. Follow my ‘twin’ @spaceasaservice to keep up with everything going on in this area.

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.

Let’s just roll this one forward. Tech meet real estate, real estate meet tech: you need each other:)

Overall then, did my dreams come true? Of course not, but then dreams aren't supposed to, are they?