CREation at FUTURE: PropTech
Here at CREation, we were overjoyed to be able to send 5 of our members to FUTURE: PropTech's May event, along with 5 senior directors from our wonderful partner companies. As you can see from the photos below, the team had a great time and met a lot of fantastic people.
Ted Harding, the winner of our Proptech competition, has written a blog post on his experiences of the day, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Dosing in our Deckchairs
At any technology event the word exponential is a sure bet for your buzzword bingo card. At least with the speed that the FUTURE:PropTech event’s guest list has grown, they can claim to be using it somewhere close to its mathematical definition. Attendance seems to double every time, up to over 1,400 delegates this year. Perhaps the event needs its own version of Moore’s Law.
Through the generosity of FUTURE:PropTech and CREation, on May 2nd I was able to add to that burgeoning audience. In my competition entry I wrote that we need to stop wasting colleagues, particularly junior staff, time on rote tasks ripe for automation. CREation are doing a fantastic job making sure younger people at these pain points go outside and use their human skills, and I hugely appreciated the opportunity to do so thanks to FUTURE:PropTech.
So what did I learn?
For me, the panel discussions were the highlight. There was a huge amount of information dispensed, but a couple of points really caught my attention. I work within the Build to Rent sector, so apologies for the residential bias;
1. Employment wise, we’re just moving the deckchairs around
This was just one of the cutting points, interspersed with chucking plastic bricks around, that Killian Hurley, CEO of Mount Anvil, made in a panel about innovation solving the housing crisis. As an industry we are a closed loop, with the same people often playing musical chairs around the same companies. To avoid the inevitable Groupthink that creates, we need to cast the net wider and allow ourselves to be disrupted with people from industries that have already mastered innovation. A perfect example of this is Mount Anvil bringing in digital marketing experts from the bookmaking world.
2. Rolling out housing
As if to underline this point, L&G’s new modular factory in Leeds is run by ex-employees of Rolls Royce. For Dan Batterton of L&G Investment Management the question is simple; “you wouldn’t accept a defect in a Rolls Royce, why do we in housing?!” Melanie Leech, CEO of the British Property Federation, put it more starkly; “What housebuilders do has worked incredibly well for a decade, why change? But are we sleepwalking into irrelevance?” Pressures ranging from land values to lack of bricklayers is forcing competition. In the words of the Farmer Report, companies need to “modernise or die”.
3. Become an exponential human
My favourite talk of the day, and judging by the crowd a lot of other’s, was Antony Slumbers no holds barred overview on Artificial Intelligence. It’s available to watch here, but for me the key takeaway was, “do not try and beat the machines at what they are good at it, use them to augment and develop your human skills”.
4. Scaling local solutions globally
When you think of the famous tech “unicorns”, the AirBnB’s and Uber’s of the world, they proposed a solution that works everywhere. According to a panel of venture capitalists from Pi Labs, Concrete VC, AXA Venture Partners and Fifth Wall many of the emerging PropTech companies are solving local problems but struggle to translate that across borders. With the amount of money pumping into PropTech rising exponentially (that word again), expect that to change.
That latter view chimed with my thoughts on walking around the conference floor, visiting the stalls of the various PropTech companies on show. There were lot’s of clever solutions on show, but many had a very niche focus. We have experienced something of a PropTech Big Bang, with a whole constellation of companies looking to serve the growing interest being shown (as shown by the explosion in the event’s size). However big consultancies, investors and developers are looking for a one stop shop. I’d expect the laws of consumer demand gravity to take over, and a period of significant mergers and consolidation to follow.
It shows that there are going to be extinctions on both sides. Some of the larger dinosaurs will fail to adapt, whilst many of the smaller technology companies will be outcompeted by hungrier, more omnivorous competitors.
As for individuals? Antony Slumbers put it best when he used the old joke; you don’t need to outrun the bear, you only need to outrun everyone else.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ted is a Surveyor at Cushman & Wakefield. He graduated from The University of Westminster in 2015 and joined Cushman & Wakefield in the same year. He is currently working within the Residential Investment & Development Team, specialising in the London market.
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