It was great to see such a packed space at Round Hill Ventures 'PropTech Connect' panel this morning, supported by LMRE. The event was kindly hosted at one of Knotel's fine offices and moderated by Tzvete Doncheva.
The topic of today’s discussion was the role of 'data' in the built environment and prop-tech innovation. We were lucky enough to be joined by an incredible panel, consisting of, Prasanna Kannan from Native Finance, Avinav Nigam from IMMO Investment Technologies, Paul Maltby from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Weronika Holt from CBRE and last but by no means least, Sheikh Fakhar Khalid from Sensat.
With data becoming today’s hottest commodity it was interesting to hear the different perspectives from the panellists on the state of data today. Prassana was quick to point out how little data there was in real estate before the 2008 crash, with much of this data sitting in email inboxes or in a mixture of different states that nobody could use. Since the crash we have seen a dramatic shift across the market with start-ups utilising this data to try and improve efficiencies in a variety of different ways such as within the property command chain or to make informed decisions on land purchases and much more. This has not only come from market forces but indeed a generational shift, as we see the younger job market moving away from more ‘old-school’ practices and instead utilising technology to simplify processes and speed up transactions.
Khalid kicked off the panel early on, by explaining that it’s all very well having a huge data set or very clever ‘AI’ technology but this must be applied to genuine problems within the industry in order to provide value to your customers. Whether that be driving down inefficiencies and therefore costs or increasing profit margins, otherwise people just aren’t going to be interested in your product or services.
Data sharing formed a large part of the conversation, with all panellists agreeing that the start-up community needed to come together to have a more open network on the data that’s available. However, the question was posed, can data be open and secure? Similarly, Weronika pointed out that start-ups and real estate companies alike must be careful when using these vast, 5 year old data sets to make informed decisions. For these data sets can contain biases; the opinions, cultural makeup or indeed market tendencies are completely different today from what they were 5 years ago. And we especially need to ensure that these machine learning algorithms aren’t learning from past prejudices.
It was exciting to hear from Paul, who provided an insight into the public sectors view on data in the prop-tech sector. Especially important to the government is the cleansing and standardization of said data, which is not surprising considering the vast sums they hold across the industry and the various different departments that work throughout the sector. It sounded like the government will be looking to become a consumer of some of these new technologies in an effort to digitize and simplify many of the complex processes that currently exist within the public sector.
It is no doubt that data will continue to be the fuel that drives change within the prop-tech sector, however start-ups will need to ensure that they utilise it in the right way and position it to customers in such a way that clearly adds value to their businesses.
Thanks to everyone that joined us today and looking forward to seeing you all at our next event! And in the words of Khalid 'Think big, start small, act fast'