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Only a tiny proportion of the UK’s leading property and facilities management companies believe they are harnessing technology successfully according to research from Qube Global Software.

Qube’s survey of 960 real estate and FM professionals, conducted last autumn, set out to discover where businesses see themselves on the journey to technological maturity, how they’re using the software already available to them and how they are preparing for future advancements in technology, including robots and artificial intelligence.

While the participants were largely aware of the role technology can play in improving the way their businesses are run, the survey highlighted that only a small proportion believe they are currently harnessing it successfully. Only 5% of businesses see themselves as tech pacesetters, with a further 20% believing they are proficient in their use of technology. That leaves 75% of the real estate/FM industry believing themselves to be at the early stages of their technology journey, Qube notes.

The research found some businesses moving ahead, with others apparently being left behind – for example, those reporting they still rely on Excel spreadsheets to manage their portfolios.

For those already using real estate and FM solutions on a daily basis to run their business, automation, reporting/forecasting and compliance were the top three benefits cited, while difficulty around integration was the main shortfall, followed by mobile access and functionality.

Customer service is a top priority for every group of real estate professional surveyed, Qube says. All acknowledged that the level of service demanded by tenants, leaseholders and property owners is rising across the board and most notably in the private rented sector. The vast majority of investors – almost 90% – are optimistic about the role technology can play in improving customer service, citing accurate record keeping, better information sharing and compliance as areas where technology is proving vital.

Looking ahead to new technology, the survey revealed that less than 10% of FM professionals are currently using robots, despite the availability of the technology, particularly for cleaning processes. Property professionals are, however, more prepared for advancements in AI, with 83% expecting it to impact real estate and FM industries within the next ten years.

Commenting on the findings, Qube CEO John Cuppello said, “Technology has transformed the role of property professionals across the industry over the last ten years, but this is just the beginning of the journey. A significant number of businesses in the sector have yet to fully embrace the technology currently available to them and are unprepared for further advancements just around the corner.”

A white paper, ‘Embracing Transformative Change: Insights into Technology and the Real Estate Sector’, explores the research in full.

This article first appeared in i-FMon 8 March 2017.

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