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Why your agency needs a holistic digital transformation strategy

The digital transformation of the property industry is not a new chapter, but an ongoing journey in which the winners are those who are quick to identify and adopt the technology they need to meet the changing needs of consumers and the wider market.

You may be one of the agencies that already have a digital transformation strategy, yet surprisingly there are still many agencies out there that don’t, and these agencies risk falling behind their competitors and missing out on the potential benefits of a robust digital transformation that meets the demands and expectations of consumers in the marketplace today.

Having a holistic digital transformation strategy that looks at your entire business and all of its moving parts is a must in 2022, and that extends beyond the agency itself into evolving factors in the wider industry. So, here are four key reasons why agencies need such a strategy.


1. The property industry is changing

The property industry is undergoing a series of interconnected transformations from shifts in consumer behaviour and expectations, and the necessary adjustments of estate and lettings agencies to adapt to these market conditions. Underpinning these transformations is the ongoing story of technology innovation to meet the demands of all stakeholders in the property market.

We live in a world now that is increasingly defined by omnichannel digital experiences, from the way people search for property to how customers engage with agents. But whereas consumers are quick to adopt the newest tech trends on the block to advance their property journey, not all agencies have been able to keep pace with the changes, and risk being left behind competitively.

Staying on top of a sea of change requires the adoption of new technologies, but it requires choosing and integrating them in the right way. Without a holistic strategy, your digital transformation will fail, and your agency risks being left behind by more digitally advanced competitors.

2. Consumer expectations are evolving

Consumers now expect far more touchpoints from agencies than ever, and for the estate agency of the future to truly thrive, they need to be able to deliver omnichannel services and experiences to meet the demands of digitally entuned consumers.

Over the last few years, changing customer needs and behaviours have motivated businesses to become more customer-focused. To meet this challenge, agencies must become experts on consumer behaviours, the competitive landscape, historical business performance and wider mega-trends.

Having a holistic digital transformation strategy in place will help improve the entire customer experience, positioning agencies to be competitive and adaptable to changes in consumer expectations over time by adopting and integrating best-in-class technologies only as required to meet strategic goals.

3. 4IR will drive competitive advantage

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the next stage of a technological revolution that will affect industries worldwide, including the property industry. Don’t wait for it – 4IR represents a global shift toward the use of digital technology largely driven by four specific technological developments such as high-speed mobile internet, AI and automation, big data analytics, cloud technology, blockchain, fast computer processing, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

These technologies will reshape the future of work and transform customers’ expectations and their interactions with property. PropTech is a wider part of the digital transformation of the property industry and such technology has progressively transitioned from serving a competitive advantage to becoming a necessity for survival in the 4IR age.

Integrating and utilising such 4IR technologies into your business plan isn’t cut and paste; without a holistic strategy that encourages company-wide adoption that aligns with your strategic aims, you’ll be missing out on potential revenue growth and likely experience a fall in efficiency and productivity of all operations.

4. The digitally transformed estate agency is the next game-changer

Agencies, large and small, need to ensure they are providing their customers with the best experience regardless of platform, technology, or device. For that, agencies must undergo a digital transformation.

According to KPMG’s Global PropTech Survey 2019, real estate companies are increasingly embracing digital: 58% of respondents had a digital strategy in place, up from 52% in both 2018 and 2017. No doubt this number has gone up over the past few years, but it demonstrates how far many within the industry still have to go on their digital transformation journeys, taking into consideration the changes in the industry that need be acknowledged lest your digital transformation project fails.

But not any digital transformation will do. According to research from McKinsey, around 70% of digital transformations fail. Part of the reason for this is that companies lack a ‘performance infrastructure’ to ensure that they don’t become one of the failures, with some of the most frequent pitfalls being a lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor or non-existent cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability, though it varies depending on the business.

A wider explanation for this failure is that digital transformation is written off as something solely about infrastructure and IT. It’s not, the real secret behind successful digital transformations is about seeing it from a business and customer perspective. Failing to digitally transform can be costly, but embracing digital change is a necessity, therefore a holistic strategy is essential.

New eras require new strategies

In this time of rapid digitalisation, there’s never been a more pressing moment for agencies to adopt new technologies to meet customer demand. With so many different PropTech vendors to choose from, agencies looking to progress and complete a comprehensive digital transformation that aligns with their strategic goals may feel that such a transformation is only achievable for the large agencies that can afford the costs.

However, a holistic strategy will help you to determine the technology required to deliver the experiences that your customers are looking for, allowing you to choose the best-in-class technology you need in a cost-effective manner without excess. It’s never too early to plan for the future of your business, but wait too long and it can certainly be too late.

*Mark Armstrong is Group CEO at Reapit


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