Digital divide among property investors revealed

A yawning digital divide exists in commercial real estate investing between firms which embrace digitalising their business and those which are adopting technology slowly, or not at all, research has found.

German fund manager Union Investment asked companies in Germany, France and the UK about the pace at which they are dumping pen and paper and other traditional working practices, in favour of digital processes.

It found only around a fifth of companies have implemented a substantial part of their digitisation strategy. Meanwhile, 41% say they have rolled out initial concepts and prototypes but have much left to do in their strategy. Fully a fifth of companies have not yet started to digitise their business processes – but plan to. Notably, more than one in 10 firms (16%) said they do not have a digitalisation strategy.

Despite the digital divide revealed by the survey, an overwhelming majority of investors (84%) with a digital strategy believe it is important to optimise their processes. 82% say it is important for defending against cyber-crime, with customer communications and achieving employee buy-in also being important in the digitising of business.

Commenting on the findings, Thomas Müller, head of digital transformation at Union Investment said: ‘The fact that optimisation of standard processes is the number one requirement for real estate companies should encourage proptechs to develop customised, easily scalable solutions in this area.

'Focusing on standard processes and seeking to develop innovative new solutions are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are both likely to indicate a clear practical focus.'

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