Late last month, Qube’s premier customer-facing event took place at Westminster’s Park Plaza hotel, showcasing the latest and greatest in both proptech and computer aided facilities management (CAFM). The annual event saw Qube present some of its latest research and development, and the resulting changes made to its product portfolio, while incorporating its large network of partners and associates under one roof. Some of these changes included both interface and back-end adjustments in preparation for ‘watershed’ regulatory acts, such as GDPR and IFRS 16, due to come into full effect in May 2018 and January 2019 respectively.
While Qube World can be described as a company demonstration, which it certainly is, it’s one with a difference. Qube’s solutions take centre stage, of course, but the occasion also serves as an opportunity for all those in the built environment to congregate and discuss contemporary industry issues. With the proptech space booming in recent years, and the CAFM market also growing confidently, events like Qube World have provided both property and facilities professionals a timely check of pulse. Here are some of the key findings that FMJ uncovered.
The importance of local roots with a global presence
The morning’s proceedings were dominated by the news that Qube has become a member of the MRI Software family, a US-based provider of real estate and investment management technology. While this news was principally delivered a few weeks prior via a press announcement, MRI’s CEO Patrick Ghilani used Qube World to lay out a more detailed vision for the future. With Qube joining the MRI stable, the business would be able to provide local expertise in the UK, while extending its international reach and influence with the support of its new American owners. ‘Local roots, with a global presence’ was announced as the strategy – the ability to offer intelligence and service to localised markets, while maintaining the capability to scale-up products that can comfortably handle international demand. This strategy is a prescient one, as a 2017 real estate technology report from Said Business School shows, the built environment is a slow-moving asset class that requires global focus to ensure lasting change. Only a consistent global effort will ensure that tech innovations remain in-step with a typically conservative marketplace.
The need for an industry ecosystem
In volatile times such as these – both economically and politically – it’s now more important than ever to have the latest technology on hand if you want to maintain a competitive edge in the market – and the real estate industry is no exception. The deal-orientated nature of property has often led to technology being an afterthought, but now it’s seen as the differentiator in terms of customer service. Users expect better applications based on what they encounter in their lives as end-users and consumers. This factor is giving rise to a greater need for linked-up processes that give property managers and FMs greater flexibility and intelligence when going about their day-to-day work. In other words, linking up an industry’s ‘best-in-breed’ is now a vital requirement – the joining together of an ‘industry ecosystem’ that offers convenient cutting-edge services without the complexity of dealing with multiple providers.
This industry ‘ecosystem’ is providing an opportunity for ideas to flourish, which in turn is giving established organisations the opportunity to advance their processes in line with the latest and greatest in proptech and CAFM. This point was demonstrated by the presence of countless partners and associates exhibiting in the room adjacent to Qube World’s main theatre. Artificial intelligence, block management services, automated lettings, utilities management technology, and intelligent scanning were just some of the capabilities on offer from associates of the software provider. What’s more, the strategy is working, the organisation now has over 50 integrations in place alongside its main suite of software products, while also helping start-ups and smaller providers gain a valuable foothold in a highly competitive marketplace. Indeed, far from being a ‘one-way’ process, this ‘sharing-economy’ approach is mutually beneficial in nature. As one Qube presenter remarked: “The ‘ecosystem’ allows collaborators to make greater use of the extensive data sets accrued by larger organisations which ultimately drives improvements to user experience – this can only be a good thing”.
Software is spearheading full compliance
Landmark regulatory acts like GDPR and IFRS 16 are necessitating significant change across a range of different sectors. The latter in particular is causing many organisations in the built environment to reassess their practices from the ground up. With all leases now appearing on the balance sheet, a concerted effort is needed to ensure this information is accurate and up-to-date. There is a huge amount of information that needs verifying, many of it between different departments; no longer can the finance department be solely responsible. With intelligent scanning, data leveraging and abstraction tools, software is the key to ensuring full-compliance by the time this act goes live.
Software – vanguard of the built environment
Software is now capable of fully assuming many of the tasks that have traditionally been taken on by human labour, or at least overseen by it. The high levels of scrutiny that were once required when implementing a digital solution are no longer necessary. It’s clear that the best systems are now intelligent and intuitive enough to handle the complex changes and intricacies that operation in the built environment so often demands. As noted by the Said Business School report, the real estate industry is typically slow to move when embracing the latest innovations, but the proptech revolution is now forcing its hand. To demonstrate this point, recent research from Qube showed that 88 per cent of residential managers feel under-resourced when trying to meet the requirements of an increasingly demanding user base. Clearly there is ample opportunity for real lasting change, for both occupiers and investors in the built environment.