Market Research presentation
Experts Panel discussion
The property sector ‘is finally embracing innovation’
In the not-too distant future 80% of current real estate jobs will be done automatically and only the remaining 20% will require human interaction, delegates heard at the PropertyEU PropTech & Innovation briefing, which was held at Mipim in Cannes.
The inevitable spread of automation should not be feared, said Csongor Csukás, executive director of international property management, BNP Paribas Real Estate: ‘It is a natural evolution. As people increasingly see the benefits of new technologies, culture and habits will adapt. The property management industry will also have to embrace change.’
The focus will have to be on the 20% of jobs that cannot be replaced by robots or automation. ‘The property manager will have to be a people manager as well, because the human factor is crucial for improving productivity and financial performance,’ said Csukás.
The human element
The most important things to focus on will be data and the human element, capturing the right information on the one hand and on the other hand using judgment and experience to make an assessment and reach a decision.
‘The decision-making process has to be a blend of man or woman and machine,’ said Michael Molloy, founder, Dashflow for CRE. ‘Data is nothing without judgment, because someone’s got to make a call at the end.’
Technology has become essential to meet the client’s needs, but it needs humans to know how to maximise its usefulness. ‘Technology is good at data analysis, but not at judgment or people skills,’ said Dan Hughes, founder, Alpha Property Insight. ‘People can now really add value and that is what they should focus on.’
Broadening the scope of data
Being able to look ahead at what the future may bring is one important way of adding value. ‘There are long hold periods of real estate, we underwrite millions of deals we expect to hold for twenty years, so we do have to think on that time horizon and in that frame things like driverless cars will be the norm,’ said Jack Sibley, innovation and technology strategies, TH Real Estate.
‘Data is useful as a snapshot of today based on the past,’ he said. ‘But if you want to look ahead to the future you need something better, you need to broaden the scope of data and then leverage the data better to turn them into actionable outputs.’
There are signs that, after much resistance, the property industry is now finally embracing change. ‘One of the structural reasons that real estate has not been an easy industry to disrupt is that it has a slow velocity of turnover, but the really big barriers to entry have been cultural,’ said Sibley.
Finally embracing change
‘There has been very little action taken by the incumbents, who have been motivated by a wish to avoid the downside, rather than a desire to exploit the upside,’ he said. ‘The fact that people are now embracing change is the biggest development that I have seen in the last two years.’
Hughes agreed that ‘the pace of change has become much faster in the last couple of years, a sign that what was once a very solid and static industry is now learning to adapt.’
The motivation might be defensive, the fear factor kicking in, or a sense of inevitability rather than enthusiasm for progress, but whatever the reasons change is now being embraced.