Property Australia

Survey uncovers secrets to competitive advantage

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal March 2, 2021

Most respondents to the Yardi/Property Council Proptech Survey rely on access to information to remain competitive. “So why are nearly a quarter still using spreadsheets?” asks Yardi’s Bernie Devine?

The internet is littered with horror stories of costly spreadsheet errors – the most famous being financial giant JPMorgan Chase’s $6.5 billion trading loss due to a simple copy-and-paste error on a spreadsheet.

The stories may be well worn, but nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents to the first Yardi/Property Council Proptech Survey said they relied on Microsoft Excel to manage leasing, sales and property management information.

Furthermore, 39 per cent of respondents use Excel for investor management and reporting.

“Seventy-eight per cent of survey respondents told us access to information is a source of competitive advantage, and yet spreadsheets remain an industry workhorse,” says Yardi’s regional manager, Bernie Devine.

Surprisingly, 36 per cent of respondents said they saw no reason to review their existing systems.

“Excel has been a tried-and-true tool for decades. But many people use Excel spreadsheets for tasks that it was never designed to complete. It’s no surprise that we see so many problems with data integrity,” Devine explains.

When it comes to information management technology – the processes, systems, hardware and software used to manage day-to-day operations – the old axiom of “garbage in, garbage out” holds true, Devine warns.

“Most businesses aren’t ready to implement advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality. What they need to focus on first is robust business processes and good systems. Great tools and bad data will give you the wrong answer. It’s like a building; get the foundation right first, and then everything else will be solid.”

The survey uncovered the top three information management priorities for 2021: enhancing business processes (picked by 42% of respondents); increasing revenue (13%) and improving timeliness and accuracy of data (11%).

If the opportunities are so great, why are real estate firms still resistant?

“Our survey found that nearly a quarter of respondents – 26 per cent – see changing existing behaviour as the biggest barrier to proptech adoption, while 34 per cent said the need to develop and customise resources were holding them back,” Devine says.

“People still think they need to customise a system – a perception that stems from having trialled systems many years ago that weren’t designed for their business. That’s simply not the case anymore.”

Devine says the survey confirms that COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of technology.

Metaprop, one of the world’s largest early-stage proptech venture capital firm, predicts that proptech innovation will deliver $205 billion of new value to the global real estate industry over the next five years.

“The real estate industry is now looking beyond the ‘proptech’ buzzword to understand how they can eliminate inefficient processes, replace face-to-face interaction with electronic communication, automate payment systems and find new sources of competitive advantage.

“As the leaders achieve far superior levels of efficiency and insight from more sophisticated software, digital will dominate.”

Download the Yardi/Property Council Proptech Survey.