Full service property consultancies need technology to release their value

The rationale behind bringing together the disciplines of planning, development, surveying, transaction, and management services is a powerful one. Typically, clients benefit from a lead partner who has access to the full range of knowledge, insights and expertise necessary to bring complex projects to fruition. At least, that’s the idea. In practice, siloes are alive and well in many companies, and collaboration between disciplines is frequently patchy.

Much of this can be put down to corporate culture; in almost every organisation the tendency to be a ‘keeper of knowledge’ is strong. (Ask yourself, for example, how much of your business contact information is shared, and how much is kept privately by individuals).

However, technology can make a real difference. Property companies use a wide variety of data inputs; Goad, Datscha, CoStar and EG to name just a few, with ‘proptech’ subscriptions and feeds amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment.  Most of this information is held on legacy on-premise servers – literally in siloes, at least geographically, and much of it is probably duplicated, as an industry friend admitted.

Adopting the cloud would open up data to the widest number of people and, even more importantly, enable a ‘single view’ that could unveil insights hitherto unseen. Imagine if, for example, it were possible to merge market data, retailer, building and occupier data with capital market information.

Moreover, it would be accessible on the move, essential for the highly mobile workforce common to every property company. AI resources can also be brought to bear – checking leases, for example, is work that can be done far more efficiently by machines than by humans.

Spreadsheets won’t cut it for much longer. And modern standards only increase the pressure; ISO 270001 compliance, essential for much private and almost all public sector work, is much more easily demonstrated through the use of cloud technologies. While there has been traditional resistance to digital transformation, the mood is changing. Boardrooms are increasingly populated by a generation for whom technology represents not just a competitive advantage but a competitive necessity. They’re already making their presence felt, and it’s their influence that will make the property consultancies of the future look very different to those of today.