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Leadership / Digital Transformation

Why COVID-19 Has Spurred Innovation in Proptech

There was a time when proptech companies struggled to find funding, unlike their fintech counterparts. But the lack of funding wasn’t caused by a lack of innovation or technology solutions. If anything, it was because the real estate industry was slow to adopt new technologies at the rate they were being built, writes Gregory Blondeau, CEO & Co-founder, Proxyclick.

For generations, real estate leaders were notoriously cautious in changing their business models to bring new technologies into the fold. But in recent years, we’ve seen a significant shift. There’s now a much wider acceptance of tech adoption, which is confirmed in a KPMG study in 2017. Today, it’s even being said that “proptech is the new fintech.”

COVID-19’s role in proptech innovation

Fast forward to 2020 and you will see many sweeping statements being made about how Investments in proptech have slowed down amidst COVID-19 concerns. But at its core, proptech is meant to help build communities and bring people together, particularly during challenging times like what we’re experiencing now. With that in mind, it is likely you’ll continue to see real innovation happening across the board.

With many organizations erring on the side of caution and emphasizing the need for support in generating value in their portfolios of properties, the current crisis is bringing a few important factors to light. One is that with budgets and optimism shrinking, only those proptech companies that can clearly exhibit their value will thrive. Another is there will be far more rigor and clarity expected in how products or services can help the bottom line while at the same time getting everyone back to the office safely.

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The ecosystem of proptech innovation

The pandemic might have turned 2020 on its head, but it’s also shed some light on the needs and must-haves for the corporate real estate market. Proptech solutions that can aid in the people flow, health and safety, and data privacy aspects are coming together as a formidable ecosystem. Organizations especially diligent in their risk management are turning to solutions that offer the following:

  • Access control capabilities: This was once an “old school” legacy system that has seen a rebirth of sorts in 2020. With the need to control who is coming, going and moving around your premises, having an access control system like Nedap or Lenel is the more responsible option as opposed to unnecessarily putting your security staff in harm’s way. Putting less people at risk is critical today, and finding a system that can integrate easily with other tools like visitor management systems is even more fool-proof.
  • Social distancing aids: Meeting room management systems were first originated to help organizations book meeting rooms more efficiently. Today, these solutions have become a vital part in social distancing methods. Companies like Condeco are redefining their offerings without pivoting completely by helping companies manage their resources as part of health and safety protocols. Companies prepared to welcome employees back to the office can ensure that desks and meetings rooms are booked in accordance with appropriate guidelines.
  • Automated Elevators: These solutions are also known as “destination dispatch.” Automated elevators optimize the use of multi-elevator systems by using access control integrations. Two examples include Lenel integrating with ThyssenKrupp and C-Cure with Otis. Originally meant to make the transport of people over different floors as efficient as possible, current health and safety concerns around limiting surface contact has brought destination dispatch to the forefront as a safe and mission critical solution.
  • Touchless experiences: Controlling the flow of people is one thing, but making these movements as contactless as possible is a part of the new norm. Shared surfaces now pose risks that every responsible organization wants to avoid when pre-screening employees and visitors, conducting biometric scanning, or the use of QR codes for entry and exit from your facilities. Fortunately, there are several mobile apps built by visitor management systems that are playing a pivotal role in facilitating touchless people flows in the workplace. Companies like Kastus are providing antimicrobial surface protection for those instances where a touchless option isn’t viable.

For the foreseeable future, all of us will be guided by our regional and national regulations. For global companies, it also means keeping a close eye out for CDC guidance and directions from other international health agencies.

Moving forward, we’ll all be making major adjustments to the way we live and work. Accordingly, proptech companies must continue to evolve and innovate to accommodate all the changes coming our way as we navigate through the new norm that COVID-19 has created.

See also: Five Questions with… Proxyclick CEO Gregory Blondeau


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CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.