Proptech – How can real estate companies fully embrace technology?

Published by PwC UK

by Lee Wilkinson Leader of Construction & Real Estate in Yorkshire & the North East

You could sum up 2019 as a year of progress, due to companies embracing technology to some extent, but full-scale adoption of digital technology is still some way off for the real estate industry.

Over the last 12 months we’ve seen an increase in companies embracing it, ranging from simply investing in improved IT environments & systems through to integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR). This has been driven by a need to be more efficient, reduce costs and create better informed decisions.

However, the investment in technology does not ordinarily result in an increase in revenue. There are a few barriers to progression that must be addressed: culture, skills, collaboration and security.


The culture and tone at the top will play a vital part in adoption of technology. The real estate industry is largely full of property developers and investors and therefore the adoption of technology isn’t a core skill. You need a member of the senior leadership team or a direct report to be leading the charge on transformation and innovation. Driving the change in culture within a business will help result in a workforce embracing the future. It’s time to invest in a Chief Information Officer if you haven’t already.


Businesses need to attract people with the right skills or provide training to existing employees to provide them the right skill base to deal with the ever changing world in which they operate. It’s not just about improving technology but also investing in your employees.


Property companies are plentiful and proptech companies are on the rise. Both are good at what they do but collaboration doesn’t seem to be a priority yet. Yes there are examples of this working, and working well, but more is needed. The ability to co-create solutions will allow the right people with the right skills to complement the existing business. There are numerous start-up and scale-up programmes as well as incubators. The key is linking the two (or more) sides together.


Using data gives the ability to change the way a business operates and improve the overall experience of the customer. However, with data comes risk. Cyber security, like many things, is an area businesses know they should invest but how much have they really done? You need to think about how you are protecting data, how your suppliers are managing the risk and just how secure are you now – when was the last time you did penetration testing?

So in 2020, change your mindset and think about breaking down those barriers and create the culture needed to drive change and thrive in the world as a customer centric property company delivering space as a service.

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