Andy Pyle KPMG

KPMG: Majority of propcos yet to draw up digital strategy

Property companies are continuing to make slow progress in upping their digital game, and enterprise-wide digital strategies remain far from common place, according to the latest KPMG Global PropTech Survey.

KPMG said it’s uncertain whether the industry has the necessary tech talent in-house to execute their strategies – where they exist – in full.

KPMG’s third PropTech report – Is your digital future in the right hands? – revealed that 58% of respondents said their real estate business has a digital strategy in place, up 6% on the previous two year’s findings. However, while slight progress is being made, less than a third (29%) of respondents claim to have an enterprise-wide digital strategy.

Testament to the challenges involved in implementing an end-to-end strategy, the same proportion (29%) of respondents said they had a digital strategy in some areas of the business; nearly a quarter said they have it in development, whilst one in five had no digital strategy at all.

Andy Pyle, UK head of real estate at KPMG and chair of the British Property Federation’s Technology Innovation Working Group, said: “Real estate may be an industry deep-rooted in bricks and mortar, but it’s far from immune where digital disruption is concerned. It’s clear that the industry’s key players are slowly but steadily waking up to this fact, with many now focussing on the increased ability to improve efficiencies; reduce-costs; develop closer customer relationships and utilise enhanced decision-making capabilities.

“In its myriad of forms, PropTech is an area that continues to climb the boardroom agenda, especially as competitors begin to demonstrate a competitive advantage through its use. Having said that, our findings suggest that many players might need to start looking further afield for expertise to fully execute their digital aspirations.”

Nodding to the growing importance of proptech among real estate players, 95% of respondents said their business had a designated person leading on digital transformation, with nearly two-thirds stating that this individual is often a C-suite individual. Added to that, the vast majority (89%) said this individual reports directly into the business owner, CEO, president or board member.

Despite this apparent prioritisation, in 65% of cases the digital strategy lead isn’t a technology specialist, with 40% of digital leaders actually coming from a core real estate, construction or finance background.

Pyle added: “In the UK, a number of property companies have begun looking further afield to acquire the skills needed for a digital future – whether that be data scientists, innovation specialists or to improve customer experience. In parallel, we’ll increasingly see industry bodies and universities adapt their courses and professional training so that the surveyors of the future are fully equipped in this area. The industry clearly recognises the vital role talent and skills will play in the coming years, indeed it’s already a key work stream for the British Property Federation’s Technology Innovation Working Group.”

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