As NSW and Victoria cautiously emerge from sustained lockdowns which have suspended retail and left workplaces empty, the commercial property sector has been offered a unique opportunity for reset and change.
Tom Wallace explains why post-pandemic, it’s time for landlords to embrace a data-driven future.
Australia’s real estate industry has long remained stubbornly traditional when it comes to everyday working practices, with many property managers still relying on outdated technology to perform day-to-day tasks.
Research from the Property Council of Australia reveals Australia’s real estate companies fall far behind their overseas counterparts when it comes to the uptake of tech in the workplace, with 33 per cent of respondents describing Australia’s technology uptake as “lagging”.
Even in the cloud-based era, nearly one-quarter of respondents indicated they still depend on Excel to manage leasing, sales and property management data, vastly under-utilising the data captured and exposing them to risks when it comes to financial reporting.
These findings are unsurprising. In Australia, the commercial property sector is only just beginning to harness the true power of data and technology. Whilst a myriad of proptech services are readily available, shifting the collective mindset of property managers and landlords is the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to the widespread uptake of proptech in the sector.
Fortunately, it appears the pandemic has helped accelerate this behavioural change. As nationwide lockdowns emptied offices across Australia, businesses were forced to migrate online or else get left behind. Across the commercial property industry, landlords and property managers were tasked with rapidly digitising their teams, portfolios and operations in order to work remotely.
At the same time, the market has undergone an intense period of fluctuation and change, with COVID restrictions and uncertain economic conditions pushing landlords and property managers to seek out real-time data about the state of the current market.
With the industry thrown in the deep end, the agility, resilience and adaptation the sector has shown over the past 18 months have proven that technological change is possible and should not be feared.
The challenge now will be whether the industry can maintain this momentum post-COVID and close the proptech gap in Australia once and for all.
As the nation opens back up, those who utilise proptech to the fullest extent will have the competitive edge. By unlocking complete visibility across their financials and gaining access to broader market trends, property managers and landlords can uncover valuable insights and find new value that was previously hidden deep within their portfolios.
Additionally, proptech can facilitate the automation of mundane, everyday tasks and processes, such as outgoings reconciliations, double entry of information across spreadsheets and automated key date reminders. This not only protects managers from financial loss that may occur from missing deadlines, such as lease renewals, but also frees up a significant amount of time. Reports from Re-Leased property managers who have been using this process have found their administration time reduced by up to 75 per cent, allowing them to focus on building and maintaining their valued relationships with clients.
In the digital age, data is the most valuable commodity a property professional can access, and it will soon be whoever can best understand it, interpret it and capitalise on it that will have the edge. After all, the best commercial decisions are always justified through data.
The traditional nature of Australia’s commercial property sector has held landlords and property professionals back for far too long. Post-pandemic, it’s time for landlords to embrace a data and tech-driven future.
Tom Wallace is the CEO of Re-Leased.
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