PropTech, aka real-estate technology, is spruiked online as one of the fastest-growing tech sectors. Start-ups abound, but what exactly is PropTech? The simple answer is that the term covers any technology, hardware or software used by the property industry, which includes a gargantuan array of options.
You could argue that the property industry has been using technology for years: online sales websites have certainly changed the face of property sales over the last two decades. Facility managers have been using software to control building utilities for years. Do these fall under the PropTech umbrella? Yes, they do, but what’s different now is the pace of change, the potential of comprehensive connectivity, the all-encompassing scope of tech that disrupts the traditional methods of developers, purchasers, investors, realtors, tenants, facility managers, architects… the list goes on. The tech world has realised an opportunity exists to transform the property sector in the drive for modernisation. Futureproofing. NextGen commerce.
That’s not to say that the industry’s motives are entirely mercenary. Many of the myriad start-ups tout an environmental approach. Efficiency is the name of the game, whether related to energy, time or property maintenance.
So what does PropTech mean for the humble smart building? A better question would be what do you want it to mean? Think of a smart solution and the chances are someone, somewhere is developing it. Need a platform that enables building owners and their tenants to collect and measure real-time occupancy of rooms and desk spaces to drive workplace efficiency? Try VergeSense. Want panoramic 360 VR photos uploaded to global prospective tenants for inspection? Take a look at EyeSpy360.
In today’s climate, corporate tenants expect up-to-date connectivity and a modernised, comfortable working environment. State-of-the-art tech and streamlined processes impress clients. Facility managers can use real-time monitoring to pinpoint maintenance issues before a utility breaks, ensuring continuity of service. The greater the connectivity, the greater the possibilities, yet the property industry is only now catching up to other sectors in embracing the potential of industry-specific tech. Insufficient ROI appears to be the main reason for the lag, as building owners question whether costly ‘smart’ updates will provide bang for their buck. Facility managers may be reluctant to embrace change as tech potentially threatens to replace them. But PropTech is one of the fastest-growing investment sectors in the world and the pressure to modernise increases every day.
In the age of digital economy, property owners who don’t run with the trend may see their current ROI decrease over time. Owners may push back with traditional practices, but trying to stall the tech revolution is pointless. The PropTech horse has already bolted.