The proptech sector has come a long way since I sat at my kitchen table to plot a course for Built-ID in 2016. Real estate businesses have taken giant steps forward in regard to not only digitising their legacy operations but digitalising their approach to their end users’ experience and satisfaction.
Where proptech was once an afterthought, it is increasingly an integral component of property management thanks to residential and commercial operators alike starting to see their tenants as customers and guests.
When a landlord invests in proptech solutions, they no longer invest in engaging with younger demographics alone. The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the adoption of and reliance on technology across all generations, with tech spending among adults aged 50-plus reportedly up 194% last year and four out of five older adults now relying on tech to stay connected.
This increased adoption of tech has been just as prevalent in the workplace, with KPMG revealing companies spent $15bn (£11bn) extra a week on tech during the pandemic’s first wave. As a result, the end users of residential and commercial spaces are more accustomed to tech underpinning their experiences than ever before.
While the prospect of their office app enabling them to digitally execute the bulk of their life admin had novelty value pre- pandemic, this is not the case now thanks to the growing number of people using smartphones to order groceries, conduct financial transactions, make appointments meet their health and fitness needs and manage their work life.
But we must not rest on our laurels and assume the built environment’s increasingly tech-reliant end users will view proptech products through as generous a lens as they did before the pandemic. And we mustn’t forget that even pre-pandemic, real estate was a digital laggard compared with other industries such as finance, FMCG, healthcare and telco.
Whether you are a proptech creator, investor or client, gaze beyond the narrow confines of the real estate sector status quo when assessing your product roadmaps. If we really want to engage with our sector’s end users, let’s look to the effortless user experiences of consumer apps, the lab-grown fabrics and 3D printing of the fashion sector and even the video conferencing software we’ve learned to love/hate this past 18 months.
We need physical places to start keeping pace with the digital places people go to shop, learn, work and play – which means starting to evaluate your proptech products as you would the latest Apple product. If your proptech isn’t of the calibre you’ve grown accustomed to in your wider life, that needs to change.
Savannah de Savary is chief executive and founder of Built-ID