As I start writing this, I cannot escape Sting's song 'I'm an Englishman in New York'. Less than 3 months in, I am starting to notice patterns in PropTech which I have experienced in my previous MarTech (marketing tech) and FinTech (finance tech) lives.
For context, I’ve moved into technology nearly 10 years ago and never looked back. As a former advertising professional, I switched careers fuelled by the promise of delivering change at scale. The ability to have a wide-reaching impact still excites me to the core. Plus, I have been fortunate enough to experience how tech benefits business across various industries – from MarTech to FinTech and now…PropTech.
Some things are still same, same…
1 - Let’s build our own platform
I’ve learnt that just because one can build something does not mean one should. Large companies may have the money to build such solutions, but they do not have the competencies to grow and maintain the newly built tech. Nor do they have the time to keep up with fast paced technological innovation. So, best to leave that challenge to the specialists and trust you’ve picked the right partner (vs. supplier).
2 – Fully tailor-made or modular solution?
Tailor-made tweaks are a good basis for incremental platform innovation; as long as they stay ‘tweaks’ and not become a major platform overhaul (see point above).
Irrespective of the sector i.e. MarTech / FinTech / PropTech – platform modularity is key as it allows the market players to adopt and adapt at their own maturity pace. More often than not, strategic players will sign up to the entire tech stack, even though they may not be organisationally ready; in doing so, they gain accelerated learnings which, in time, turn into path dependency competitive advantages.
3 – One-stop-shop for me, please
A perfectly sensible request, especially in the early days of sector disruptions when there is likely to be little data analytics sector knowledge within corporate teams. Not to mention, it is also easier to manage. However, having seen and experienced both models, I would much rather decouple the service and software solutions; not only to preserve the integrity of advice, but also to ensure access to deep skilled professionals. Those companies who understand the importance of creating a successful partnership ecosystem around them, will prevail.
...whilst others are very different
4 – CAPEX vs OPEX
This is a major difference in technology adoption pertaining to PropTech. For cost synergies to materialise, initial CAPEX investment must happen (and we’re not talking about pennies). However, it is now proven that those who invest are set to materialise significant savings (pg2).
With MarTech and FinTech, most of the tech automation solutions are OPEX, with companies not having to commit in advance large sums for adopting the solution. This is not about which expenditure category is better; I am simply sharing an a-ha moment:-).
What I see and hear is an increasingly ‘burning platform’ attitude amongst major players. Whether or not this is because the commercial property market has reached a tipping point, it is nonetheless nice to witness the sector maturing.
Perfect timing to be in the PropTech space...it looks like it has been a long time coming and Fabriq are ready for it!