Stressed out? No wonder, when a torrent of email appears to be eating away half your day
Then there’s the threat the power will go off, losing 10 years of rental data. Not that some of it will be missed, as those Excel spreadsheets sent in last week make no sense.
Despite such day-to-day problems, technology issues come well down the pecking order for most property companies. Proposals to revolutionise leases, the threat of business rate increases, changes in property taxes and the potential attractions of outsourcing all get higher priority in the boardroom.
Discussions about these general business areas are among key sessions at this month’s PCS Expo show, suggesting that technology is now seen as just another factor in running a business, rather than as a combination of bewildering whizzery, a blistering force for change and a mysterious black art.
The software stalls and technical talks are still there, but they are no longer the heart of the Property Computer Show. ‘The market has changed,’ says Bob Rosen, who launched the event almost 20 years ago. ‘First, people are no longer buying something new, because they already have the software. Nor do they need to update their software every year or two, as products are now very stable.’
This year’s show visitors are more likely to be managers than IT directors. Feedback from previous visitors suggested that they want more than just technical know-how. They are also looking at how technology can be used to improve their business as an integral part of the management structure.
Specific IT innovations are still topics for seminars and debate, of course. In rating, for instance, the Valuation Office Agency was due to issue the first internet-based estimates this month. And tax planning is almost totally dependent on business software, while mapping programs are essential for sniffing out regeneration possibilities. Lease reform could play havoc with managers unless they have software that can cope with big changes, while the outsourcing of property management will test whether systems can keep track of the vast flows of information swapped between each side.
So the geeks will still get their fix, but managers could find the move to more of a MIPIM-style show far more interesting.
PCS Expo takes place on 19-20 October at the Business Design Centre, London