Only a tiny proportion of the UK’s leading property and facilities management companies believe they are harnessing technology successfully, according to research by Qube Global Software.
As the technology landscape continues its rapid pace of change, the research suggests that a large proportion of property companies will be playing catch up, rather than taking up the mantle of technology trailblazer.
The survey of 960 real estate and FM professionals, conducted in autumn 2016, set out to discover where businesses see themselves on the journey to technological maturity, how they’re using the software already available to them and how they are preparing for future advancements in technology, including robots and AI.
While largely aware of the role technology can play in improving the way their businesses are run, the survey highlighted that only a small proportion believe they are currently harnessing it successfully.
Only 5% of businesses see themselves as tech pacesetters, with a further 20% believing they are proficient in their use of technology.
That leaves a remarkable 75% of the Real Estate/FM industry believing themselves to be at the early stages of their technology journey.
Where the rapid advancement of technology is pulling some property businesses along with it, it appears to be leaving others behind, with several respondents commented on how their businesses still rely on Excel spreadsheets to manage their portfolios.
For those who are already using real estate and FM solutions on a daily basis to run their business, automation, reporting/forecasting and compliance were the top three benefits, while difficulty around integration was the main shortfall, followed by mobile access and functionality.
Customer service is a top priority for every group of real estate professionals surveyed. All acknowledged that the level of service demanded by tenants, leaseholders and property owners is rising across the board and most notably in the PRS (multi-family) sector.
The vast majority of investors – almost 90% – are optimistic about the role technology can play in improving customer service, citing accurate record keeping, better information sharing and compliance as areas where technology is proving vital.
Looking ahead to new technology, the survey revealed that less than 10% of FM professionals are currently using robots, despite the availability of the technology, particularly for cleaning processes. Property professionals are, however, more prepared for advancements in AI, with 83% expecting it to impact real estate and FM industries within the next ten years.
John Cuppello, CEO of Qube Global Software, said: “This research shows that the property industry believes itself to be slow to adapt to new technology.
“While it’s certainly true that a proportion is resisting transformative change, partly due to budgetary constraints and partly because of a lack of understanding about its potential, I believe more property professionals may be using advanced technology regularly in the workplace than they know.
“It seems to me that many of our customers are relatively advanced in the use of technology and have gained significant market edge through their innovative use of our solutions.
“Technology has transformed the role of property professionals across the industry over the last ten years, but this is just the beginning of the journey. A significant number of businesses in the sector have yet to fully embrace the technology currently available to them and are unprepared for further advancements just around the corner.”