‘Proptech is now a must-have’

The word proptech appeared on the radar in 2017 and in the space of three years it has become a must-have. Investors know that innovation cannot be ignored, but often they are not sure which path to follow.

‘We want to be aligned with the megatrends of tomorrow, but there is so much happeningthat it is difficult to tell which are permanent changes that have to be embraced and which are just gimmicks or passing trends,’ Jack Sibley, Innovation & Technology Strategies, Nuveen Real Estate, told Real Asset Media’s Proptech, Data & Innovation Summit in London recently.

Willem Jan Buijs, Founder, Chainels , Nikki Greenberg, Founder, Women in PropTech, Jan Jilek, Co-founder, Spaceflow, Norman Meyer, Head of Digital Services, Drees & Sommer, Jack Sibley, Innovation & Technology Strategies, Nuveen Real Estate and Grégoire Tripon, Deputy MD, Head of Business Development Europe, BNP Paribas Real Estate discuss the impact of technology on the current real estate investment Market.
Filmed at the Proptech Investment Briefing, London, November 2019 by Real Asset Media

The answer is to ‘focus on structural features that will enable the building to be and stay smart over time,’ he said. ‘We know that flexibility and sustainability are not issues that will go away. Let’s focus on making buildings more efficient and sustainable before moving on.

Let’s walk before we try to fly’.

Adopting and using technology in the right way is the key step forward, experts agree. ‘In order to work as efficiently as possible we shouldn’t differentiate between real estate people and tech people,’ said Nikki Greenberg, Founder, Women in PropTech. ‘The onus is on tech providers to make it user-friendly, keep it simple and clean and easy to learn’.

Cooperation is increasing, as companies that were competitors find they are all in the same boat and agree to work together.

‘If there is a clearer vision from investors on what they want and how to achieve it, companies will look at problem-solving together,’ said Willem Jan Buijs, Founder, Chainels. ‘They will use data to tailor the experience and keep users connected to their space’.

Technology-driven solutions are being chosen not just by investment managers but by investors as well, said Cassian Scott, Senior Vice President, EMEA & APAC Sales, Altus Group: ‘Data aggregation is a key theme and for investors the biggest challenge is homogenised data for CRE in order to get useful outputs’.

There is a lot of focus on new, shiny and smart buildings, but the reality is that most of the existing real estate stock is old. ‘The knowledge and experience gained in making new buildings smart and future-proof can then help with renovating and improving existing stock,’ said Gregoire Tripon, Deputy Managing Director, Head of Business Development Europe, BNP Paribas RE.

When buildings need to be demolished, the materials should be recycled to minimise waste. ‘We should think differently and see buildings are materials banks and a key tool is having a digital twin of the building,’ said Norman Meyer, Head of Digital Services, Drees & Sommer. ‘Digitalisation is not an end in itself, but a tool to improve sustainability’.

The acceleration of proptech is creating ever more data, which are now locked in data silos, but ‘the greatest challenge and greatest opportunity is connecting the silos’, he said. ‘In the end innovation has to come from the real estate industry itself’.

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