Looking Forward Contributors
Clockwise from top left: Hannu Käki, Charlie Wade, Melanie Leech, Menno Lammers, Joe Averill, James Morris-Manuel, Raya Yunakova, William Newton

Innovators prepare for year of opportunity

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Nicola Byrne

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back to the office after the holidays? 

Lost In Translation ReportMelanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation: 2019 will kick-off with us focusing in on the recommendations made in our ‘Lost in translation: How can real estate make the most of the PropTech revolution?’ report. We have to bring innovators and the traditional real estate industry closer together, talking the same language, to unlock the areas of the property lifecycle where there is currently a real lack of innovation and consequently a bigger opportunity for innovators to support the industry to improve its productivity.

Joe Averill, transactions and asset management at OBI: We are starting to finalise the strategy already for 2019, focusing on integration, diversification and automation, in order to work smarter and leverage our existing in-house digital skill set. 2019 will see the launch of Studio OBI which enables OBI to deliver a fully integrated marketing capability to our clients, including; video, CGI, websites and branding. We are also in the process of trialling an Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning solution with one our clients which will look to enhance the value of our clients assets.

Charlie Wade, UK managing director of VTS, a lease management software firm: There’s some really big shifts in the property market which I am determined to stay close to, so that we can continue to help our clients use technology to combat market pressures. 2019 will be a big year for VTS as we launch a series of products that are a direct result of requests and feedback we’ve had from our customers. That won’t change in 2019, and I’ll continue to spend a large amount of my time working closely with and listening to our clients, and assisting them on their own journeys towards digital transformation.

Raya Yunakova, programme director at PiLabs: 2019 will be a big year for Pi Labs in many ways as we’re looking to make more and larger investments into the next generation of proptech businesses and further support our existing portfolio. The first item on our to do list after the holidays is to prepare for and welcome the 7th cohort of companies in the Pi Labs pre-seed programme. We looked at nearly 350 businesses in consideration for that and selected some fantastic teams with innovative ideas, that will join us for 4 months of intensive business development in February.

James Morris-Manuel, vice president EMEA at Matterport, a 3D capture technology firm: My priority will be to finalise our strategy for increasing Matterport scan volumes in EMEA. A key part of this will be increasing the percentage of properties sold or leased in core EMEA markets that have a Matterport scan. MIPIM and Future PropTech are always key dates in the calendar, but generally I will try to get to as many events as I can. London is a lively and dynamic centre for innovation, but Germany, Spain and France are also exciting places for tech and will be important growth markets for Matterport in 2019, so I will be looking to get closer to the ground in those locations too.

Matterport Dollhouse

The scanner offers a 3D “dollhouse” perspective, so users can see a whole property, its scale and layout, at once


For the industry to move forward, what needs to happen in 2019 that we haven’t seen in 2018?

Melanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation: The real estate industry needs to better harness the benefits of technology to future-proof itself, innovate and improve productivity and economic growth. In 2019, this will include engagement with the Government’s Geospatial Commission, to think about what data we need to be able to plan for the built environment of tomorrow. And we need to plan effectively for wider developments such as last mile delivery by drones, autonomous transit, and decentralised power grids.

Hammerson Mercedes Future Lorry

Mercedes’ concept of an autonomous long haul truck

Hannu Käki, Proptech Finland: 2018 was the year when proptech was widely recognised in real estate. In 2019 the interest in the investment market may face some cooling, and more and more businesses will be seriously active in upgrading their talent and processes in their still very traditionally thinking organisations. At the end of the year many of the leading organisations, their teams and strategies will be something very different than what they were 1 year before.

Joe Averill, transactions and asset management at OBI: Technology enabled spaces allow better communication, quicker transactions, building efficiencies, stronger communities and much more. I still feel that the property and technology sectors need to collaborate to a deeper extent to ensure our assets are future proofed – there doesn’t appear to be a strategy placed around this currently, which would be nice to see to ensure we keep progressing.

Menno Lammers, founder of PropTechNL: Proptech must be more explicitly linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development goals. PropTechNL’s starting point is to link SDGs to proptech with the SDG criteria being included in entries for the PropTech Startup Europe Awards. Simply tinkering with the ‘operation excellence margin’ for only financial gain is no longer an option. In the future, proptech has be more connected with global challenges like urbanisation, climate change, affordable housing, good health and wellbeing etc.

Charlie Wade, UK managing director of VTS: Online leasing will become transformative for the property industry in 2019 and there will be a greater divide between the companies who are investing heavily in tech and those that get left behind.  The landlords, leasing agents, tenant rep agents and tenants who take advantage of being able to complete the entire end-to-end deal process online will achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency.  But in order to be able to capitalise on new approaches to leasing, landlords and agents will need to ensure that their space and availability data is centralised, structured, and organised.

Raya Yunakova, programme director at PiLabs: Last year, we finally saw a fundamental shift in the mindset of the property industry – technology is no longer feared and its potential to create value and transform businesses is now being widely recognised. In 2019, I anticipate the adoption of technology at a greater scale in all areas of property and some of the fundamental basic challenges of the non or low-digital practices currently in place to be overcome, so we can move on to more exciting and ambitious things. In short, in order for the industry to move forward we need to stop talking and start acting.

William Newton, president and EMEA managing director of WiredScoreAs an industry we need to ensure that buildings are future-proofed and fit for purpose. To do this, landlords will need to embrace intelligent buildings – intelligent in every sense – both smart buildings incorporating lots of technology as well as ensuring the buildings are designed around and focused on the needs of its occupiers who are increasingly working in smarter ways.

James Morris-Manuel, vice president EMEA at Matterport: As the property world becomes increasingly tech-savvy, and the proptech marketplace more crowded, we will see much less tolerance from clients for sub-standard tech and service. In a crowded field it is better to spend time and money getting the product right. This is where scale could be important, as bigger companies will have the resource to undertake more rigorous testing. However, there is also a balance to be struck between going fast and perfectionism, which can also slow progress.


What are you most excited about for the new year? Any areas of tech or companies that you think will stand out?

Melanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation: The pace of change in relation to telecommunications infrastructure is exciting. 5G internet is being heralded as the answer to smarter cities, vastly improving how physical assets communicate with one another and us – but it comes with its challenges and our industry will be central to overcoming these as it’s highly likely that due to the nature of 5G and its use of the electromagnetic spectrum, we’ll have to place more transmitters and receivers on buildings.

Hannu Käki, Proptech Finland: Personally I’m very excited to follow all the opportunities we’re going to see in the investment management and brokerage processes. Of course, there are dozens of other areas where we’re going to see huge improvements as well. However in this specific sector, people have finally realised how their daily actions and decisions can be quicker and better with the help of technology enabled services.

Joe Averill, transactions and asset management at OBI: Our involvement in proptech sees us launch Calico – an exclusive technology enabled network powered by OBI. We will open up our contact database as we intend to connect like-minded executives, directors and influencers from across the business world, making our spaces and clients better connected. One of the key areas that has emerged lately that I’m interested in is drone technology and how it will impact the property sector. Landing and recharging pads for drones will become global atop urban buildings within a few years, as rooftops will need to be designed for a number of drone ports.

Drone Camera 4k 1080 539124

Joe thinks that landing and recharging pads for drones will become global atop urban buildings within a few years, and rooftops will need to be designed for a number of drone ports

Raya Yunakova, programme director at PiLabs: The areas I will personally be paying close attention to are deep technological solutions aimed at automation through the use of hardware components and machine learning; innovations targeting our improved health and wellbeing, especially while at work; visual solutions for understanding the built environment better; and allowing better access to the industry for wider, non-professional audiences. As a sector, I am very interested in what is to come in the construction space and looking beyond buildings themselves the development of truly smart cities.

Charlie Wade, UK Managing Director of VTS: 2018 has been a great year for boosting diversity in our industry – by that I mean in both the tech and property sectors – but there is a long way to go and my hope for 2019 is that we maintain the momentum.  At VTS, we believe that the three key ‘pillars’ for business success are technology, talent and diversity.  More so than many other sectors, collaboration and teamwork are crucial in our sector.  In the summer, we gathered together some senior executive women from British Land, Aberdeen Investment, LaSalle, Chelsfield, Knight Frank and Bruce Gillingham Pollard to discuss the topic and it was encouraging to hear how both diversity and tech is supporting property’s shift towards becoming a much more customer-centric industry.

William Newton, president and EMEA managing director of WiredScore: I think we’re seeing wider and wider acceptance that tech is here to stay as a permanent and positive feature of the property industry. It isn’t some curious disruption, it’s part of the day to day experience of what we do. Companies that understand that sooner will benefit more. It’s exciting to watch the industry evolve and see the impact of technological change and how it is becoming engrained in every aspect of the real estate market.

James Morris-Manuel, vice president EMEA at Matterport: I’m looking forward to working closely with our new CEO, RJ Pittman, who joined us from eBay earlier this month. He has done some incredible work shaping the products and customer experience at eBay, Apple and Google, and I think he will really help us to drive the business forward in key markets. Companies that are high growth, but low margin, are perhaps some of the most exciting. Acasa, a platform that allows people to manage household bills incredibly simply, is a very interesting business with great potential.

RJ Pittman

The announcement coincides with a period of significant growth for Matterport, which has built 1.4 million 3D models, with 600 million model views and raised more than $70m in investment since the company started

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