Arup Digital Portfolio
Can you take your business to No 1: transform at every level?

EDITOR’S NOTE | The 3 responses to digital. Which are you?


Paul Unger

‘What does good look like?’ That was the question a senior director of a multi-disciplinary property group put to me over breakfast as she grappled to understand where her firm stood in the proptech pecking order.

For one possible answer I referred her to Arup’s informative ‘Reimagining Property in a Digital World’ report published at last year’s MIPIM. With this year’s convention under way in Cannes, now seems like a good time to revisit some of the useful thinking set out in Arup’s seminal study.

Arup described three types of company, roughly as follows, in ascending order of advancement:

3. Running

  • Business carries on almost usual
  • Tactical use of tools for a specific purpose – ‘let’s buy a drone for surveys’
  • Not much changes, bolt-on and plug in
  • Some tangible benefits

2. Growing

  • Build a team to look at tech
  • Widen focus to look at asset from planning to occupation
  • Added emphasis placed on transitions and hand-offs between phases
  • Move beyond “isolated tactical digital solutions to solve distinct problems” in asset cycle
  • Starting to make links between different phases, eg using data in planning can improve design and construction, making the building more efficient to operate

1. Transforming

  • Determined to reinvent the business from top to bottom
  • Integrated tech strategy portfolio-wide
  • Single plan in place that “adds value not only across all phases of the lifecycle of any single asset, but also across the entire portfolio of assets”
  • Increased long-term valuations, improved end-user experiences, better operational asset performance
Arup Digital Portfolio Benefits

Transforming companies put digital through their entire portfolio

The final question as we concluded breakfast was ‘Who is good, who is doing this?’ While there are plenty of case studies in the Arup report there seem to be too few from the UK. The Crown Estate and Derwent London are featured but the industry here is clearly only in the early stages of its transformational digital revolution. I and the PlaceTech team look forward to identifying and celebrating the companies at the forefront of that change in the coming months and years.

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