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Technology is an asset, not a liability

6 January 2014

Technology is changing the way we all work - empowering us with greater speed, efficiency, knowledge and flexibility. Business is no longer confined to the environs of the office, with our train journey, coffee shop or home all doubling up as a workplace.

However, the property industry generally looks at technology as a cost rather than an asset to its business. With the rise of cloud computing, smart phones, tablets and increasing connectivity, those who are embracing such advances can gain a critical advantage over competitors who are failing to grasp the coat-tails of the technological revolution.

The most innovative companies in the sector are those which are adopting a “Digital First” principle to business. At its most basic, this is the practice of harnessing technology to solve an issue or facilitate a smoother, more efficient way of working.

The technology world has fundamentally changed in the last couple of years, and will continue to evolve exponentially. The opportunities for creating real and meaningful differentiators to one’s competition are far greater in both size and scope than they have ever been.

Agents, for example, should have access to every piece of information they need, together with the tools to interrogate and analyse the data at their fingertips – while on the train, on a viewing, or, at home watching television. Information and applications need to be as mobile as the individuals using them.

This gives professionals the ability to provide clients with a far higher level of service than has ever been achievable, giving those who are tech-savvy a competitive edge over their tech-shy counterparts, laying lie to the tired adage that “all agents are the same".

The industry should also be leveraging technology to measure performance. Quality is measurable, and in an age where benchmarking, return on investment and evaluation is critical, those who are performing can now prove it, and those who are falling short, will be exposed.

We are working in a people-orientated industry, where relationships, networks and contacts are everything. Far from acting as a substitute for this human-interaction, technology should help grow and strengthen these all-important relationships.

Lack of communication and inadequate transfer of information between firms seems to me to be a key issue, and one I hear time and time again when talking to potential new clients. Communication and information sharing going forward will be quicker, richer and more authoritative than ever before.

We really are at a tipping point in the property industry, where what was once seen to be an acceptable level of service is no longer going to be good enough.

Technological developments will not only change the way we all “work, rest and play”, but are enabling a transformation in the quality of service that the best companies can deliver and that can only be a good thing.