Stephanie Bentley is PropTech Product Executive at RICS, an organisation with a keen interest in the way digital technology is changing the way we plan, build, maintain and use our social and economic infrastructure.
“…I believe we can do this by empowering women from a young age to pursue their passions, regardless of whether they’re currently traditionally male dominated industries, and start to change the definition of the technology culture as one that is open and collaborative…”
Using tech to form revolutionary ideas that are adding real value
I began working at RICS three and a half years ago and I’ve really enjoyed learning about the way that we plan, build, maintain and use land and real estate impacts on the environment around us and shapes the way that we interact with our surroundings. The adoption of technology in the real estate industry is increasing rapidly; it’s being used to form revolutionary ideas that are adding real value. It’s an exciting time to be working in this area.
Raising awareness and understanding of PropTech
I joined the PropTech team just over a year ago, to help raise awareness and understanding of how technology will impact the sector and the role of our professionals. My day to day role involves sharing thought leadership and market insight from some of the leading experts and innovators in technology and the built environment; going to events and conferences, building engagement with the technology sector and ensuring data and technology is infused into all of our activities.
More about PropTech
Digital innovations in the property sector (PropTech) are changing the way we plan, build, maintain and use buildings for the better, as such innovations have the power to design and develop more creative developments that are more sustainable, less costly to run and serve their purpose better.
Those working in the built environment are beginning to embrace the opportunities that digital transformation is bringing. We use ‘PropTech’ in the broadest sense, referring to all aspects of innovation from software to hardware, small start-ups to large corporates and how they are impacting on the built environment.
We have a lot of events coming up in the near future, from our own flagship conferences, each including a technology session, to supporting other industry events such as Digital Construction Week and the MIPIM PropTech Summit in New York this October.
Also, in recognition of the importance that technology companies have on all property sectors we’ve recently launched a Technology Affiliate Program (TAP) to raise awareness of the tech firms who support the adoption of RICS standards and are actively helping to advance the property industry. We’re also conducting research into the impact of technology on valuers and investors.
How PropTech might evolve in the future
Some PropTech predictions for the (not too distant) future:
Virtual reality (VR)
Virtual Reality (VR) is already growing in popularity as a way of marketing property by helping people to better visualise it. In the next year or so we’ll see it being used for much more than just marketing. The emergence of interactive hand controllers is changing the design and construction processes and the decreasing cost of headsets is resulting in wider adoption of the technology.
Property transactions carried out over the internet will start to gather real traction. We probably won’t see the market accepting this technology in the short term (largely because of regulatory challenges) but when it does take off, it’ll make property transactions much cheaper, safer and more efficient.
Smart buildings / automation
The Internet of Things will become bigger than ever and we’ll see more connected infrastructure with the introduction of technologies like intelligent traffic lights, sensors that detect traffic jams and air quality trackers. Routine maintenance of buildings will become increasingly automated, detecting issues before they become a problem. Challenges around cyber-security and job losses are a big talking point that businesses will need to think about as the pace of change becomes quicker and quicker.
How technology is helping to encourage more inclusion and diversity in surveying and the construction sector more broadly
Although there has been some change in recent years, there is still some way to go in attracting more women in to the property, construction and technology industries. Women represent just 15% of the property and construction workforce. But advances in new technologies will hopefully help to change this by making the sectors more attractive and exciting to work in.
For example, the increasing use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), drones, virtual reality and augmented reality is changing the skill set necessary for construction roles which is attracting a more diverse range of professionals to the industry. However, more needs to be done.
Only 28% of executives and managers at top ranked technology firms in Silicon Valley are women. We need to ensure that an industry that is shaping the world around us is not being decided by one group of people. I believe we can do this by empowering women from a young age to pursue their passions, regardless of whether they’re currently traditionally male dominated industries, and start to change the definition of the technology culture as one that is open and collaborative.
Why inclusion and diversity are such key priorities for RICS
We are determined to raise the bar when it comes to diversity and inclusion within the profession, so that our industry attracts, nurtures and retains the brightest and best talent regardless of gender, social background, beliefs or disability. Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s the only way we can deliver a sustainable future.
Although reporting on diversity within organisations is increasing, and education around the real value that is added when people from all different walks of lifework together, there is still work to be done, particularly on the ‘inclusion’ part. With this in mind, we launched the RICS Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM), which asks employers to pledge their commitment to adopting and continually improving across six key areas including recruitment, staff development and staff engagement. Countless firms of all sizes have pledged their support for the IEQM, many of which will be attending our annual Diversity and Inclusion Conference later this month, where we will be highlighting the latest diversity and inclusion initiatives in the industry
Coming up next
We have recently welcomed Director of Data Standards, Dave Ramsey, who is working to ensure our standards are adopted by software companies and working with other organisations to ensure the world has international data standards. We’re also ensuring our professional offering is in line with the latest technological trends, introducing new technology competencies to our Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) which surveyors must undertake in order to gain chartered status. We’ll also continue to host and participate in events, sharing insight on technology themes. I’m looking forward to continuing to help the profession address the risks and opportunities that technology presents.