A History of PropTech
First and foremost, PropTech is not a new concept; with the integration of new technology available to us, it is fascinating, but not new.
Vik Tara and Adam Blaxter from Rentr, have pulled together a framework to describe the history of property technology and explain the reasoning behind the current surge in the use of the ‘PropTech’ term.
‘PropTech’ as a word fits in with all the new trends and hashtags; we already have FashTech (Fashion), MarTech (Marketing), MedTech (Medical), FinTech (Finance), AdTech (Advertising), it isn’t hard to see how PropTech has joined the fray.
As computing developed through the introduction of Windows desktop software and the increasing prevalence of office computing in the mid to late 90s, a few key products stood ahead of the pack and dominated the estate agency, letting and property management agency markets. Competition was intense as the main players added more and more features for their agency clients.
Many people have described the current surge in property technology as “PropTech 2.0” but history begs to differ.
PropTech 1.0: PC based software
Property Technology 1.0 really took off in the 90s with the development of PC based software applications that were built for the property industry. Suddenly, the spreadsheets of yesteryear and the saved MS Word templates for every type of paperwork became relics and were replaced by seemingly simple purpose built desktop programs.
Many of these products are still around today, software that works locally for individual users or on local or wide area networks.
PropTech 2.0: The internet revolution
PropTech 2.0 arrived with the internet revolution when a few pioneering innovators saw the potential for property marketing online.
It wasn’t long before individual agents and agencies were advertising properties on their own websites. Some firms started to invest further in web based systems that made them available 24/7/365 and accessible from anywhere in the world. Site visitors were invited to arrange viewings or reserve properties online.
PropTech 2.0 was so much more than a new set of online marketing tools however. Behind the scenes,
PropTech 2.0 started with networking synchronised databases. This allowed property software hosted at different locations to talk to each other, enabling businesses to grow and operate at scale.
There were limitations of networked synchronisation for large datasets which became apparent over time. Key players shifted to datacentre hosted and managed applications, using key web technologies like Java to deliver FinTech grade security, scalability and resilience into their delivery model.
‘The cloud’ became the go to buzzword late on in the PropTech 2.0 era but it was the datacentre sitting at the heart of this revolution. Datacentres allowed for more power, scale and more services to enhance property software increasing efficiency. Suddenly a whole host of new features were being streamlined and added to agency side systems such as:
○ Complex mail-merge tasks
○ Email to clients
○ Automated workflows
○ Rapid management reporting
○ Multiple data feeds to a business’s website and the property portals
○ Contractor and works order management
○ Window carousels
○ Electronic signature
○ Lean business processes
Very quickly, the feature sets that ‘Cloud’ software could deliver for web-connected businesses large and small became immense.
In 2008, Zoopla entered the online listings market with smart algorithms that calculated housing prices.
Zoopla was unfortunate however, this was the year of the subprime mortgage crisis meaning that lettings and the long term customer relationships we all know to be imperative now flew onto the main stage. Not everybody saw it, but in 2008 the foundations had been laid for PropTech 3.0…
PropTech 3.0: Mobile technology
So what is PropTech 3.0?
We should start by taking a quick look at the technological changes the world over. Since 2007/8 there has been one major change to how we live our lives, the world became mobile. As 2007 drew to a close, the iPhone was launched. It was the dawn of mobile computing as we know it. In a year we went from Motorola Razr phones with terrible user interfaces and awkward buttons to ‘Black Mirrors’ that did everything from the palms of our hands.
The world has gone mobile to a huge degree and innovation has been booming in the mobile space. The Cloud revolutions of PropTech 2.0 were suddenly accessible in our pockets.
For the property industries, PropTech 1.0 bought custom computing to the businesses, 2.0 brought the advantages of networking and online servicing, PropTech 3.0 is embracing the customer.
Positive customer experience is vital. PropTech 3.0 is creating platforms where people can access the data that companies hold and manage for them; do it yourself services to find and manage properties are already here.
The marriage of web, mobile and cloud makes working smarter a part of everybody’s lives and
PropTech companies in the 3.0 wave are by-and-large either moving agency business online or empowering customers to access on-demand services.
PropTech 3.0 is where the next wave of Property Technologies will crystalise: best-in-class service solutions will meet key spinal applications to deliver consumer value. There will be major payoffs for software providers, startups and agencies who work together to stay high tech and agile.
Cryptocurrencies like block-chain technologies are somehow more open and yet more private. These technologies are being leveraged into the building blocks and a whole new world is opening up. Out of the woodwork we will see faster ways to transact properties, just as mobile payments will supercharge rent transactions. Behind all of this, the data will enable smart businesses to deliver deeper insight and increased value.
Whilst the Agency space that has benefited a great deal from PropTech 1.0 and 2.0, we are seeing those same 3.0 consumer focussed, social, on-demand and mobile service expectations being met by agencies and their software suppliers who have the vision, the will, and the technical muscle to transform their industry.
As posted by RICS 2nd September 2016: Read article on RICS website here
Thanks also to http://www.dimoso.com/