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Director of Innovation Darryll Colthrust shares his tech predictions for 2019

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In 2018, there was a lot of talking and posturing. Myself included. Some of this will fade in 2019, because there is need for a significant push to start implementing the PropTech rhetoric. With the upcoming induction into the Fiera Capital family, this year is going to be full of promise and new expectations for us. We have made strides in laying down technology foundations and adhering to certain principles as part of this change. For us, 2019 is the year to start reaping the rewards of some of this work.

PR hat off, tech hat firmly on!

I could’ve done a ‘Top 10’ or 20. Even a top 50, major exaggeration, or is it? There are so many exciting things happening in the industry! I’ve settled with on a ‘Top 5’ for no other reason than I can count to 5 on one hand. It does mean I’ve missed off predictions on AI, new roles in property, pervasiveness of building data, property graphs, customer experience and engagement, digital construction, robotics, cloud migrations, City OS, rise in FM automation, property exchanges, automated valuations, quantum computing, higher marketing budgets, increased brand awareness, preparedness for 5G, automated asset selection…buzz words or the reality we are hurtling towards? Lots to write about in 2019 so stay tuned.

  1. Consolidation of PropTech firms trying to solve similar problemsDarryll Colthrust

According to Unissu, there are 6,000+ property related technology companies out there. That number is still growing. Consolidation is a gentle way to describe the culling that will inevitably occur. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing for entrepreneurs. This is an opportunity to show your awareness of the problems that companies in the industry are facing and how your product is different or unique. With a directory and classification, everyone will be able to start comparing apples with apples.

Top tip: Make sure your product solves the problem and the customer experience you provide is head and shoulders above the rest.

  1. More high-profile PropTech acquisitions as incumbents develop their digital strategy

For most, before this influx of technology, a digital strategy consisted of making sure the computers turned on – think “IT Crowd”. As incumbents have woken to this new world of data, software, platforms and network effects, that thinking has evolved. Incumbents have fed off the fat of the industry for a long time. That has made them slower to evolve and adapt to the changing environment. They look dead in the water, with a shoal of lean PropTech piranhas feeding off their carcasses.

In response, I think we will see an increase in PropTech acquisitions to stay ahead of the game and enhance their capabilities. With 6,000+ PropTech firms to choose from, incumbents are spoilt for choice and this is where the development of a living digital strategy comes into play. You can’t buy your way out of future obsolescence and customer disintermediation.

  1. More senior technology appointments

This is a given and a natural and welcome evolution. I know quite a few people if you’re interested – these are exciting times for the property industry! With the increase in appointments, technology will rise up the agenda. However, please do be aware that you can’t appointment someone and play lip service to the importance and impact of  technology to grow the business. Just as you are passionate about business and service design, innovation, capabilities, investments, architecture, city design, workspaces, sustainability, we are just as passionate about business and service design, innovation, capabilities, software development, data, interoperability, platforms and network effects. Change will be required on both sides and we all want the same thing.

  1. Increased use of data analytics to make decisions

I had to get this one in there because I want to see this happening! More data is becoming readily available, internally and from public data sources. One of the biggest steps I saw last year was the Geo-Spatial call for evidence. The BPF Technology Working Group (a.k.a ‘RE Legends’) responded. EG’s Radius product also launched last year, forming an agent collective, to standardise and distribute data. Internally, we have been changing the relationships with our partners, service providers and suppliers to a more data-led engagement. It hasn’t been done without difficulty but the foundations are there.

As we start swimming in all of this data, the challenge will come in trying to understand which data points are needed to solve the specific problems your business is facing. Or, what analysis can be done to reduce risk and increase confidence in the decisions we’re making today based on millions of data points, trends and machine learning. It’s a brave new world!

  1. Increased awareness of cyber security

It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ a security breach is coming. I suspect it has happened already and we don’t know. With a maximum fine of up to €20 million, or 4% annual global turnover, spending time and money on educating yourself and assessing your security doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. A lock, cameras, guards and a mug of coffee isn’t enough these days.

As the property industry flocks into the cloud in droves, and buildings become more connected we have to open our eyes to the unseen threat. This isn’t scaremongering, this is the reality we live in today. Some of the biggest names and most advanced companies across many industries have suffered. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Fifa, Marriott, Cathay Pacific, BA, Uber, T-Mobile, Dixons, Under Armour, FedEx. The list is exhaustive and that’s last year!

You’re probably thinking, they’re big name brands. Why would a hacker care about what we’re doing? We don’t have anything of interest like private investor contact details, private employee records, financial investor holdings, bank accounts, bidding information, B2C tenant records, access codes to building security, biometric data or individual tenant movement.

None of this information is useful in the wrong hands.

If you’re still not sure…that was sarcasm

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

― Brad Paisley