The measure of intelligence is the ability to change - thoughts in the shadow of the Proptech Confer
What is digitization and what does it mean? In my opinion, digitization is the solution to get the most out of the change: we recognize it, observe it effectively, measure it, thereby even becoming able to predict the future and thus increase transparency, measurability, and efficiency within our organization.
Of course, neither digitalization processes nor the adoption of proptech happen overnight. In 2017, the term proptech started to trickle into Hungary, for which a handful of teams built a conference, where they proclaimed the sanctity of content (content is king) as a singular principle. We believed in the subversive power of proptech and digitalization, that it would bring about the revolutionary change, the need of which we felt so strongly (and feel to this day). Along the way, I realized that proptech is just a buzzword that can be used to hang everything that helps increase the efficiency of the real estate market, digital transformation: innovation, digitalization, agility..."
Processes happen more slowly, which has many reasons in the real estate market:
transparency is a sensitive issue, the motivation is not clear;
the success of the market hindered these processes, since they did not feel the need;
the uniqueness of the real estate market, the nature of the project, since this is not serial production, repetitive processes can be digitized;
the market is inflexible, for two reasons: a property is built for a long time, it cannot be changed, and rental contracts are signed for 3-5 years, the market does not follow all changes immediately
investor nature of the market: everything is calculated on the basis of ROI, due to the nature of innovation, it rarely pays off in the short term.
At the same time, the "subversion" and "revolution" caused fear and an instinctive defensive reaction in many, which is completely natural. They thought it would be like an explosion, as the "digital comet" would come and reinterpret the real estate market, which has been operating for 100 years, resting on concrete pillars and always bringing reliable yields. And since digitization did not happen overnight, the skeptic voices also get louder: "I told you it's not possible, didn't I?"
Proptech is already part of the life of most companies
But this transformation in no way resembles or will resemble an explosion. Nowadays, most companies go about these processes quietly, they manage and implement a professional CRM or ERP system, they have started collecting data, they have not yet created data centers, but in some places they are already responsible for this area and almost every company uses or testing some proptech solution.
Proptech solutions are often within reach, we use them, but it is not certain that we call them by their names and manage these processes consciously.
James Dearsley humorously expressed this in his presentation as “proptech as a trend and expression has to die in order for the real estate market to move forward. Today, we should not talk about this, but about digital transformation". And this is really the point: the market should start to recognize and understand the rules and possibilities of the digital world and start the learning process, the essence of which is that we learn from mistakes and agile operation, which is the basic culture of every software development company. It is necessary to make a product
1. Implement a product
2. have short-term results and milestones,
3. the organization accepts
4. it should really be built for and on the users, i.e. they use it in their everyday life and the tool should make their work easier.
James often emphasizes the importance of the S curve in innovation, i.e. that you cannot innovate once; innovation must become part of the organization and it requires continuous follow-up and thinking, taking into account changes in circumstances, the transformation of company culture, and the level of development.
In the opening lecture of the Proptech Hungary Conference, Imre Porkoláb focused on the human being and what skills and qualities we and the workers need to equip ourselves with in order to meet the present given by the digital society and our changing world.
Mester Nándor, one of my favourite journalists chose the title of his article about the Proptech Conference as Willy Brandt, who was one of the first to stand up for German reunification in 1989: "What belongs together will grow together". When technology and the real estate market meet and understand each other's needs and thoughts, common products and services are created and these can be called proptech solutions. But that's not what's important. To me, proptech is nothing more than a term that can be used to list innovative ideas, it helps to explain digitization or the transformation of the market. That's all, but it's not enough.
The coronavirus epidemic, the energy crisis, or ESG gave digitalization a huge boost. More and more services have been transferred to the online space. This is precisely why the digital preparedness of Hungarian society will become increasingly important, as it is a basic condition for the strengthening of a competitive, knowledge-based economy in the 21st century. That's why I'm organizing the Proptech Hungary Conference, to inspire and educate the real estate market, so that we can prepare together for the digital society of the future and exploit it.