At networking event, Propteq 2018, PlaceTech joined a session titled ‘2020 Real Estate: Digital transformation strategy’. One of the first questions asked to those in the room was, “what stage is your company’s digital transformation strategy at?”
This was met with wide eyes and a couple of mutterings of ‘early-stage’, except for Legal & General Investment Management’s head of platform technology and change, Jon Avery.
He described their digital transformation programme as being ‘in the middle of execution’ and that L&G is currently in the process of digitising the whole company with the vision to provide more transparency to its processes. He added that they have had the same internal system since 1991 and therefore will be changing every tool.
Jon added: “The strategy is always changing, so we can’t ever be fully there.”
Data feeds value
Speaking to Jon after the session, he explained L&G’s digital transformation started around 3 years ago with a programme, that wasn’t originally intended to look at technology but instead looked to alleviate operational pain points. The focus was on investment managers to “become better conduits to occupiers”.
Looking within their own architecture transformation, the company is keen to have a core team but bring in other people who are looking to evolve and have those be the specialists, whilst L&G brings the fabric together internally.
Legal & General is a British multinational financial services company and is one of Europe’s largest asset managers and a major global investor, with assets under management of around £984.8bn.
Jon highlighted that there was a key focus on data and how it can be used to enable better decision making and support growth. The investment management subsidiary is currently in the process of centralising data and instead of having multiple platforms with investment management tools, ATOM has been created.
ATOM is L&G’s flexible investment management software which acts as a powerful tool for investment managers by providing real-time analysis and projections.
The platform acts as a network that allows external applications, with diverse areas of knowledge, to essentially be ‘plugged-in’ which L&G then extracts valuable data from.
“We want back the data that feeds value” explained Jon and the flexibility of the platform allows that.
The applications, even though integrated, remain external with the ability to develop separately. L&G have essentially created a system which can shift and adapt to future challenges.
Examples of applications L&G uses includes; Datscha which gives access to data for all registered commercial properties in England and Wales, as well as REalyse which provides residential property investment data and insights in the UK.
Be more niche
Jon also had some advice for startups trying to find their place within the proptech world: “A lot of startups come to us and say we can provide this kind of insight with our platform if you give us some data. We can’t give them that and many don’t realise the amount of work that would enable us to do so – lots of due diligence would be involved. If we did, it would headline on the news: Legal and General shares customer data.”
A thread that was repeated was that startups need to cover the hygiene factors, that can often be boring and admin-like, first: “it can be as simple as having a procedure around user logins, you’d be surprised at how many don’t have that”.
Jon added that many startups are trying to solve problems that are not there or are trying to solve multiple and advised that “sometimes it’s better to be more niche and focus on one area”.
Legal and General’s digital transformation appears to be on the way, and with the race to incorporate technology into an archaic system it will be interesting to see the advantages a flexible platform, like ATOM, provides.
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