Survey claims European real estate industry is slow to adopt new technology

The vast majority of property professionals in the UK now regard proptech as an opportunity rather than a threat, new research has found.

But a clear majority are also sceptical about their own companies’ progress on adopting new technology, according to the survey by Trident Building Consultancy, in association with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), GoReport and Teesside University.

Asked whether they saw proptech as an opportunity or a threat, 95% of respondents to the survey said that it presents an opportunity. However, asked to score their company’s progress on proptech take up on a scale of one to 10 some 23% opted for one, indicating no adoption at all.

In total, 65% answered negatively, giving a score of one to five, compared to 35% who answered positively.

The survey report says that companies are at least trying to make use of new technology. Indeed, 59% of respondents said that they used some form of proptech in their jobs, compared to 41% who said they did not.

In addition, a clear majority, 57%, said that their firm either had a digital strategy or was working on one, compared to 26% who said their employer didn’t and 17% who simply didn’t know.

The survey also makes clear that there remains a steep learning curve for many property professionals when it comes to proptech, with 57% saying that they didn’t have a good understanding of the technology, and just 27% saying their company had invested heavily in proptech training.

‘Decisions are still being made about tech investments without a clear understanding of the transformative nature of Proptech. Advances such as IoT [internet of things] and machine learning will drive early gains and shift the balance in the favour of companies willing to invest,’ said one respondent.

In terms of the barriers to take-up, some 56% cited a lack of knowledge and training, 43% doubts about return on investment, the same percentage, 43%, a lack of clarity on the benefits and 41% the time required to implement proptech.

‘Cost benefit is key. We need to be sure that proptech innovations are not made just for the sake of it. I have seen too many new IT systems brought in that increase workload, the opposite of what is intended,’ said another respondent.

On balance, however, Trident director Anthony Walker, who initiated the survey and is the chair of the RICS UK Building Surveying Professional Group Board, felt the survey painted a positive picture of the industry.

‘It is clear that many in the industry still do not feel that they have a full understanding of proptech and the advantages and benefits it can offer businesses and their clients. However, the fact is that a majority of companies are now using the technology and most firms have a digital strategy. In terms of direction of travel, that is highly encouraging,’ he said.

‘Clearly, both individuals and companies have a responsibility to ensure that they remain up to date with the latest technological advances and how they apply to our industry. However, the onus is also on proptech firms to engage and communicate more effectively,’ he added.

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