I was asked recently to speak at a regional conference for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – an honour for sure. My initial thought was something along the lines of “Great, a room full of property professionals – we can show off our software”. And the thing is it would be of huge benefit to so many of them. Easy, job done – I’ll pass it to the sales team.
But at the back of my mind, the alarm bells were already ringing. Really, none of these people have asked to see our software and they’re attending the conference to improve their professional learning. An un-asked for demo is therefore probably the last thing they’ll want to see and, instead of impressing them with the flexibility of our software, we’ll be giving them a big turn-off.
That meant it was back to the drawing board. So we got thinking: what is it that we’re expert in other than our software? We certainly know a lot about property management – although we’re not in the industry, we have hundreds and hundreds of customers who are and it is essential that we understand their needs. And technology – we’re a software company so we have a lot of specialist knowledge in this area.
So, I spoke about the state of the property management industry, recent trends and the direction we think it’s headed, considering in particular the impact of consumer technology.
Parallel property management
So, where is the property management industry going? And what exactly are the main trends?
I started the presentation by drawing the difference between what’s happening in large, corporate property managers and smaller, regional property managers (I say smaller, but I accept that this is sometimes a small part of a very large business). This isn’t a conventional way to split the market – usually we would talk of owners, tenants or managing agents; or commercial and residential – but there does seem to be a real separation here.
In the corporate world, I spoke about two major trends. The first is the apparent convergence between property management and facilities management – the CBRE and Norland deal; the GVA and Bilfinger alliance and JLL’s winning of the worldwide HSBC contract are great examples of this.
We’ve noticed it too and many of the large, corporate deals won by Qube Global Software over the last year or two have had extensive PM and FM requirements. Where this leads is anybody’s guess but, in the medium term at least, I see this trend remaining mostly in the corporate world.
The second major trend that we identified at corporate level is the ever increasing acceptance of Business Intelligence as an essential business tool. You can read more about BI and how it impacts on property and facilities management elsewhere on our site, but essentially, it is about using better information to make better decisions.
Interactive reports and dashboards have become key tools for these larger businesses and they provide them with the ability to interrogate data and provide ‘what if?’ modelling for their portfolio.
I believe that this is in contrast to the regional property managers, where the focus is very much on the individual and their local knowledge. For me, technological development in this area will focus on products that make life easier for the property manager (such as apps), leaving them with more time to use their knowledge and skills to make better decisions.
Of course, the inference in the presentation (but I’ll say it here), was that Qube Global Software has solutions to satisfy these varying demands and we will continue to proactively develop our software to meet these changing needs as they are happening, rather than some time afterwards.