Everyone is now an expert and everyone has an opinion.
Arguably, it was a risk by EAT to launch a regular column about something that very few people knew anything about. Most were (and arguably still are) sceptical about the use of technology, or, in some cases, new business models.
I must commend both Nat Daniels (Angels Media CEO) and Graham Norwood who took the decision to start the discussion here in the UK. I hope we have all managed to steer the discussion forward for some of you in that time.
In those last four years, the market has changed and as I mentioned earlier, there are now experts everywhere on the topic of PropTech. I genuinely mean there are some experts amongst all that noise!
Back when I started, you could be a generalist in terms of sector specialism and it was fine because it was the technology that mattered.
Understanding how technology ‘could’ change was important.
Now, it is far more about understanding the application of the technology in a particular industry sector. But I might suggest it is becoming even more precise. You need to understand not just the technology, but the particular industry segment and business model it will either support or disrupt.
There is a long, long way to go as the industry evolves. There will continue to be supporters and naysayers amongst all of us and that is why it will take time. It will be a slow evolution and I will continue to support it as much as I can.
With everything exploding at Unissu, my mind is now elsewhere and my priorities have to be there and to build that global community to make a difference to the sector on the whole. I hope some of you will continue to follow that journey.
Before I go, however, I just wanted to summarise a few areas that I feel are going to continue to become important in this changing world. There are some resources I feel you should be aware of that should support your own journey and development in this PropTech arena.
1. PropTech for Good
Set up last year by a good friend, Menno Lammers, PropTech for Good “is a global, cross-industry alliance. The alliance is composed of leaders who are active in the built environment and use technology as a lever to innovate and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals” - to quote Menno directly...
If nothing else, it is worth understanding the SDGs to help you as a business look to the future.
I was one of the founding directors of this organisation but resigned my position last year. It was the first Not For Profit Organisation in PropTech and paved the way for others around the world to develop in the same manner.
I still believe the only way to instigate change is to have an NFP agenda and most ‘for profit’ organisations in this area cannot represent members particularly well. They have been making great strides recently and are a great resource for events, roundtables and support.
3. Unissu and RE:Connect
Unissu is now two years old and is growing and growing and growing. The mission is to connect and educate both the buyers and sellers of property technology all around the world. From a real estate perspective, we are a procurement platform, analysing over 9,000 technology providers from around the world.
Keep an eye on RE:Connect, which had its first event on January 7, with over 3,500 attendees from 118 countries. Another will take place on St. Patrick’s Day and well worth being a part of - simply because it was labelled as ‘Burning Man for Real Estate’.
Keep an eye out as we are in discussions for EAT to support RE:Connect moving forward, so there could be some excellent resources to come.
4. Tech London Advocates - PropTech Working Group
TLA is an ‘unrivalled’ collection of tech leaders, experts and investors uniting to form the most influential group in tech. With no government backing, this is the voice of the private sector in London. This particular group focuses on the PropTech sector and is headed up by Jo Tasker and one definitely to watch as they tackle matters all across the sector.
5. Said Business School - Real Estate Initiative
Way back at the start of this current wave of PropTech, I was contacted by Professor Andrew Baum about his first paper - PropTech 2.0. It was the start of his journey into this new field. Whilst his report at the time I didn’t feel hit the mark, subsequent publications have been excellent and there is a list in here of a great number of them.
It is well worth reading all the historic ones, but also keeping an eye out for new ones coming out.
So, there you have it. Five groups or sites to keep you entertained. Along with the excellent, award-winning journalism at EAT, I hope these continue to help you on our journey to understand more about the future of our industry.
Thank you for reading my column over the years...
*James Dearsley is a leading PropTech influencer and commentator, and is co-founder of PropTech platform Unissu. You can follow James on Twitter here.