Earlier this year we brought together real estate voices from across the property lifecycle – landlords, operators, occupiers and tech providers – to get under the skin of the industry challenges driving technology selection and adoption.
The discussions revealed some unexpected (for some), but clear alignment of requirements and challenges, with some heat being placed on PropTechs and whether they were taking full accountability in supporting real estate companies in driving the successful adoption of technology.
When considering how PropTech could play a stronger role in supporting the adoption of their technologies, four key areas stood out for everyone.
1. Who is the actual client?
“It's going to work because I've been told it's going to work by the person who just sold it to me but it's … doing that engagement piece with the occupiers to understand what they want and how it could be implemented [to avoid] less take up.” Adrian Dack, SHW
Getting to the bottom of who the actual client of the technology is, and understanding what it is they want and need, is easier said than done, and often completely overlooked. Typically, PropTech is acquired by landlords and operators on behalf of the current or future occupier. Whilst good intentions drive the procurement, the occupier are not consulted during the process; this means the technology is not a clear fit versus needs, it isn’t onboarded or maintained as intended, and the client doesn’t access the potential impact of the technology and in turn the intended building experience.
Now this isn’t because the solution is poor. Sadly, we’ve seen plenty of excellent technology solutions fail in a building because occupiers have not been brought into the conversations early enough, or at all.
“What we've seen are a lot of people [landlords and operators] buying very broad products that do lots of things, but actually when an occupier comes along, it's like, well, no, we don't need 50% of that” – Freddie Pritchard Smith, Trustek
PropTech companies have a real opportunity to influence this process, which makes good business sense as it is inevitably positive to the longevity of the technology within the building itself. If a technology provider takes the time to understand what the end users wants and needs within the initial discussions, it will result in better utilised technology and higher occupier investment (time, capital, skills) in the technology from the outset.
2. Let’s speak the same language
“It's an education piece…clients don't know the right questions to ask” – Amanda Irwin, DeVono
Real estate speak real estate, and technology speak technology – a lot gets lost in translation when these groups come together!
There is naturally an onus on real estate to educate themselves. With technology being the key to the future of the sector, PropTech companies could accelerate this learning curve with the benefits being two-fold – buyers would be more confident and understanding of what PropTech can achieve, which naturally lends itself to better utilised technology, delivering stronger ROI for all.
3. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole
“You don't have the PropTech providers calling up the occupiers and saying, "What do you want?" They just say, "You need this."” – Amanda Irwin, DeVono
At Trustek, we listen to PropTech pitches daily. We frequently see technology companies telling real estate what they want to tell them, rather than engaging in a dialogue about what the client wants to achieve and how their solution would support this.
The most successful pitches we see, which lead to properly selected, deployed and adopted technology with a strong ROI, are by companies who aren’t trying to fit their square product into a round hole. They have taken the time to understand each stakeholders’ requirement, how the building is used, and have really got to grips with the challenge the client is facing and what success looks like for them.
They have then presented the right products for the real problem at hand, not the perceived problem.
4. Understand the wider picture
“All this data needs to link together, because you don’t want to log into 100s of pieces of tech that solve similar problems” – Helen Cave-Penney, Evora Global
The PropTech market is incredibly crowded with over 10,000 products available, a figure set to continue to rise with new solutions coming online almost daily. As such, PropTech needs to consider its positioning and the challenge it is responding to, also ensuring its compatibility with other building technology solutions to demonstrate its part in the integrated solution to the sector.
“We need help…there are so many options” - Adam Forster, Redevco
Landlords, operators and occupiers are confronted by technologies that overlap in functionality. If PropTech companies can support real estate in understanding how their solution fits with the wider building strategy, it can streamline how that solution is adopted and used; directing value to upstream, downstream technologies being onboarded as part of a full building solution.
In summary, each stakeholder holds a certain level of responsibility for educating themselves in PropTech, but technology companies must play a stronger part in sharing their knowledge, which will also build their expertise in real estate and ensure their product is truly aligned with what the client wants and needs, relative to the wider building strategy and extracting absolute value.
If you’re looking to solve your challenge with PropTech, or a PropTech looking to understand market demand and product fit, we can help you. We ensure the right stakeholders are engaged in the buying process, we can also;
- Translate Tech speak
- Ask the right questions of PropTech companies
- Audit your asset to understand your current technology and how a new solution can fit into a wider Technology strategy
- Help educate you and your team around getting the most out of PropTech