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The future of proptech in Canada: Embracing data-centric solutions for real estate success

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In today’s Canadian real estate market, we have witnessed a slowdown clouded in uncertainty, but with one constant throughout – the availability of time. So, it has never been more important for real estate stakeholders to rethink their strategic platforms and reflect on how they will implement efficiency and precision to stay competitive.

Clients and prospects that I work with are saying this market pause is an opportunity to “peel back the onion” on identifying how they can improve their processes, giving them time to seriously plan how to use their capital and resources wisely for when new opportunities arise and the market rebounds.

Recognizing the transformative power of PropTech and data-centric solutions is at the forefront of this, and will be crucial when navigating the industry’s current challenges. 


Rise of proptech in Canada: A journey of acceleration


Having spent my career working at the intersection of real estate and technology in Canada, I’ve seen firsthand how the PropTech landscape has evolved at an accelerated pace, especially in commercial real estate.

PropTech, short for property technology, refers to the use of technology and digital-first solutions in real estate that modernize the old processes that were used daily by industry professionals. Technology in real estate has advanced rapidly, opening up significant funding opportunities and a rich talent pool. Toronto, for example, was recently described by Bloomberg CityLab as being at the forefront of artificial intelligence development, attracting top AI experts.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that these PropTech companies are not just innovating but are merging together to expand their solutions and accelerate their growth. They have become more focused on leveraging their unique areas of expertise to provide better services and choosing to buy, or partner to offer, one central solution. 

Perhaps the most important trend I’m seeing, however, is real estate organizations’ newfound ways of leveraging data which, in my view, is the most powerful tool these companies can have.


The impact of data-centric solutions


Real estate as an official asset class means there are high expectations when it comes to effectively reporting investments to both stakeholders and the general market. This has opened up major opportunities for data-centric solutions and made evidence-based decision-making critical. 

Data is a commodity, but when it is structured, centralized and transformed into information, it leads to faster, more informed decision-making. Today, the speed and accuracy with which decisions need to be made, opportunities identified and risks managed are all dependent on the availability and quality of data to drive the benchmarking, predictive analytics and AI solutions the industry demands. 


Case in point


I recently spoke with a senior leader from one of the largest global real estate investment management firms in North America about how his firm was looking to solve workflow and global reporting challenges. He and his firm quickly realized they needed to prioritize organizing their own data first, but doing so required a great amount of time to successfully map out various pieces of data to a single place.

Through the implementation of a business intelligence tool, they were able to organize both their own data as well as the data coming in from outside sources, enabling more holistic and consistent reporting on a global scale. More importantly, the company was then able to explore solutions to help automate team workflows and support predictive analytics that both centralized and normalized their data. 


Challenges & best practices: Navigating the human element


Implementing data-centric solutions comes with its fair share of challenges, the most notable being human resistance to change. So, companies need to involve employees in the decision-making process, which will allow them to contribute their perspectives and first-hand experiences to ensure this technology fits with their needs and goals. 


Case in point


A senior management member of an independent global asset management firm here in Canada shared insights with me on unsuccessful technology implementations due to not involving day-to-day teams in the initial sourcing of the solution. Establishing a centralized data strategy was important, but so was selecting a solution that would meet daily challenges and impact reporting up to senior management.

Based on these observations, this executive gathered requirements directly from his team and involved them in the review process. The goal was not to establish a data-centric approach for the sake of centralizing data but to have data that really mattered for solving the problems they had identified together.

This led to selecting a PropTech solution that significantly improved the efficiency of the team and, more importantly, enabled this executive to answer questions from senior leadership within minutes by managing, tracking and reporting on the data required to immediately produce insights to make faster and more informed investment decisions.


PropTech: The foundation of real estate’s future


As the Canadian real estate market navigates what has been a global pause, the role of PropTech and data-centric solutions has been relevant to all real estate organizations. While many have a pessimistic view regarding the current slowdown, I see immense opportunity for PropTech to thrive, as companies realize that embracing technology is no longer an option but a necessity.

By capitalizing on data-driven solutions, real estate organizations can unlock their true potential and create a future of sustained growth and success.


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