Dominic Wilson
Pi Labs

Property technology holds great potential for the real estate investment space, but there are still challenges to overcome, says Dominic Wilson of Pi Labs

What is the potential for proptech in the real estate industry?

Property technology is making the property industry more efficient and transparent by connecting people, making searches more efficient, accelerating transactions and improving the way properties and real estate portfolios are managed.

Which technologies should we be watching? How do you expect these to change the industry in the coming years?

Augmented and virtual reality tools are already changing the game in terms of property viewing. We are only going to see more of this, which will make transactions more accessible and should speed up the time to closing.

Elsewhere, blockchain is making property transactions more efficient, transparent and secure, and artificial intelligence (AI) is automating tasks within the property industry. In property management this will help property companies manage their properties more effectively and efficiently.

Data technologies are also improving efficiency in the industry by analysing large amounts of disparate data and delivering relevant and actionable insights, while in bigger construction projects, we’re seeing technologies improving the efficiency of transferring data between stakeholders, and monitoring large projects.

Pi Labs has recently invested in Plentific. What other investments stand out for you?

We recently announced the fourth cohort group in our Pi Labs Accelerator investment and mentoring programme, and we’re starting to see some real evolution in the quality and types of proptech companies that come out of the scheme, which says a lot about the demand for high-quality proptech companies. In fact, there have been 24 investments to date since Pi Labs launched in 2014.

In terms of those standing out at the moment, in the AI space, Ask Porter automates property management by intelligently connecting people with the right information or person to resolve property issues as quickly as possible. It also automates financial performance reports for the property. Keepsite is a tech company that is going to disrupt the construction, engineering and architectural sectors with a property management system. Its platform allows companies to allocate resources more efficiently and make decisions in a timely manner and helps ensure all projects are running smoothly.

Which other sectors do you think could benefit from proptech in the near future?

The list is endless. There are so many stages and areas of the industry that are ripe for forward-thinking companies to look at and improve through a technological lens. Take mortgage lending or conveyancing for instance. Both are huge areas impacting thousands of people every day, yet very little about either has been modernised. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hugely exciting things happening in hospitality, security, insurance and many more areas.

What do you see as the main challenges for proptech in the real estate industry, moving forward?

There are two. The first is the amount of time required for the property industry to adopt new technologies.

The second challenge is that the property industry will need to employ individuals that can properly assess and use the new technologies, and may need to look at organisational changes as technologies change the way they operate.

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