Put a digital plan in place or face the consequences

Planning ahead in the digital economy is increasingly important for today’s CEO. Aaron Block, MD of New York accelerator MetaProp, summed it up nicely at Mipim when he said: “I would ask the chief executives of all these companies today, what is your plan for engaging with the next generation of property technology? The ones who don’t have an answer, short their stock, right now.”

Everyone is fired up about proptech, but for some there is confusion about how to plan the next steps. A good place to start is to look at the far-reaching benefits that technology can bring.

One benefit is the ability to create a digital space for shared learning and collaboration. The resulting insights could not only extend across the business but also to partners and be accessed from any device and from any location.

Blackstone - a financial backer and early adopter of VTS - has been ahead of the curve in this regard, using this technology as a shared tool for its in-house team and agency partners. Work streams have been integrated so that leasing activity, business reporting, market analysis and marketing programmes are all co-ordinated from the same source.

This has brought more efficient use of time and resources, as well as free-flowing data sharing between the firm and its multiple leasing agents. Leasing meetings have moved away from theoretical discussion around potential market trends towards strategic discussions around the performance of single assets against portfolio-wide markers.

Increased intelligence

As the scale of adoption across the industry grows, so will the digital capability of the big data platforms that serve it. This shift paves the way for property players to gain better sector-wide market intelligence, ultimately facilitating global decision-making in a way never seen before.

With this level of insight, company leaders can use portfolio data to better position assets based on real-time tenant demand, optimise lease conversion and ensure high-quality tenants are retained. This intelligence can also be used to make strategic portfolio-level decisions around asset repositioning, acquisition and disposal.

At Derwent London, one of the key benefits of a single operating system has been a boost to productivity due to the leasing team’s ability to work anytime, anywhere. And this is just the beginning. Continual access to real-time information enables companies to make key investment decisions, adapt pricing strategies and plan marketing campaigns.

For property agents, the race is on to see who is making the best use of the latest tech for their clients. CBRE’s recently launched technology platform Vantage is a good example of how the company is continuing to invest in the space. So too are its partnership with PiLabs and its recent hire of Alex Bailes as head of product engineering.

One tech solution that adds a useful element to data platforms is a complementary content management system. Using tools such as Qube enables users to generate, manage, review and publish more sophisticated information such as embedded graphics, photos, video and audio, promoting even higher levels of business-wide collaboration and connectivity.

Digital transformation to this degree is a bold step that must be embraced by everyone in an organisation. However, it will be those at the forefront, with a proper digital plan in place, who are among the first to derive the biggest competitive advantage.

Ryan Masiello is chief revenue officer and co-founder of VTS

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