Data, data everywhere but what to do?

What is ‘Big Data’ and is it a problem or a solution?

Rob Bould past chairman of the Investment Property Forum and NED of Coyote Group gives his perspective the tech revolution in the property industry and looks at the practical applications of these new technologies.

Few people can define ‘Big Data’ let alone say whether it’s a problem or a solution.

Doug Laney, a US IT industry analyst, was clear that big data isn’t just an unwieldy amount of information when he defined it in the early 2000s with the now classic ‘three Vs ‘model

  • Volume
  • Velocity
  • Variety

The fourth V that has been proposed in recent years is Veracity which really starts to get to the nub of the issue because unless you have a source of truth all the data in the world won’t add value to an analytical process if the data is inaccurate.

There is clearly a buzz around proptech which is attracting technology entrepreneurs and start-up businesses that have spotted an opportunity to capitalise on a wealthy sector which historically has been slow to adopt new technology. As a property person myself and having spent over forty years in the industry it’s great to finally see some momentum and a real commitment across the market to embrace technology’s ability to make data work harder and people work smarter.

Information, intelligence and data have always been the lifeblood of the property community and the currency in which its practitioners are valued. However, at a time when the market is faced with a tidal wave of data, the accumulation, management and presentation of data is becoming increasingly paramount. Knowing how to filter, interpret, package and present such data efficiently and effectively is the key to making technology make a fundamental change to the way we do our business.

In an age where time is our most precious commodity, making time, and ultimately cost, savings while providing clients with a smarter, faster service is critical to the survival and future success of businesses which depend on data.

The days of trawling multiple information sources just to collate simple reports and analytics are numbered. In years to come, we will look back on the practice of slogging through spreadsheets or multiple systems as relatively archaic, as the future lies with the integration of data channelled through a central, single source.

With laptops, tablets and phones we have the hardware and the devices enabling people to access real-time data any place, any time anywhere in keeping with our increasingly flexible, mobile way of working.

Advances in software make it possible to access a one-stop resource that provides the user with access to their data requirements at the touch of a button, and enabling them to analyse opportunities faster and make more informed decisions from a user-friendly dashboard

In an increasingly competitive, demanding and client-centric environment, gaining a critical edge over contemporaries in the agency world is becoming all important, and the comprehension and utilisation of data is where all important margins and points of differentiation can be achieved.

With a range of sources and systems on the market, the danger of silo-working and disconnected, incompatible data streams is counterintuitive to the real purpose of technology in simplifying our working lives and making us more efficient.

I am a great advocate that the future of prop tech lies in the collaboration, sharing and streamlining of data, which is ultimately in the best interest of both the service provider and, most importantly, the customer.

Encouragingly, this is becoming a growing trend, and a good example of this partnership or “hub” approach is Coyote and Realla, two like-minded companies who have teamed up to integrate their platforms to allow their own respective customers direct access to the other’s information. Why have they done this? Simply because it is in the best interests of their customers who will benefit from an enhanced, more rounded service.

While I have always been a great believer in substance over style, the importance of the presentation of data can often be overlooked. Making sense of reams of dry but insightful data and presenting in a user-friendly, digestible, coherent and attractive way, be it through graphs, charts or infographics can be as compelling and important as the hard data itself.

The pace of change continues unabated and while we might think we have come a long way in recent years, the prop tech revolution has really only just begun. While it is difficult to say without any real certainty where exactly this technology will take us, I am convinced that those companies who embrace it will be the ones to flourish, while those who don’t will be left behind.

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