Surveying is not an industry generally renowned for perching on the cutting edge of technology. You would be hard pressed to find many established businesses in this sphere at the forefront of the digital revolution, although the principle of constant adaption and evolution to ensure survival rings true for all companies.
Most industries with an -agent suffix, whether travel, insurance or estate agent, have been exposed in recent years to the impact of web-based services. The clear shift online has been to the detriment of direct personal contact with the agent concerned, and whilst the rumoured demise of traditional estate agency for example may still be a way off, snappy advertising and cost-effective offerings from online rivals have certainly made a dent. The current c.7% share of the estate agency market by online providers may still seem small, but the growth in year-on-year terms has led some analysts to suggest that this could rise to c.25% of the market within five years.
PropTech (Property Technology) is the current watchword in the industry. This is defined by a leading proponent of the sector as ‘the name given to technological innovations that are developed for and implemented within the property industry’. Although PropTech has principally been considered to date in terms of estate agency, in my capacity as a residential managing agent (yes, that -agent suffix again) there is a recognition that the PropTech revolution will have an inevitable impact on the management surveying market. The questions though are how, why and when, and what we do to embrace it.
As to ‘how’, automation of routine processes is likely to continue to increase, with invoice entry, bank account reconciliation and year end account production the obvious contenders. We would anticipate seeing more prevalent use of apps or online forums to quickly update residents on building matters (the lift is out of order for maintenance for example) which can be quickly administered, and which in turn ensures that staff have more available time to ensure non-routine queries are addressed and client-facing roles supported.