Hesitance to embrace PropTech leaves real estate industry vulnerable to being left behind

Study reveals only 36% of Canadian real estate companies have a digital strategy

Hesitance to embrace PropTech leaves real estate industry vulnerable to being left behind
Duffie Osental

The hesitance of Canadian real estate companies to embrace new PropTech trends may lead to the industry falling behind global peers, according to a new study.

A report from professional service firm KPMG found that only 36% of the Canadian real estate companies surveyed have a digital strategy, compared to 58% globally. The report also found that, while all the companies surveyed in Canada have appointed a digital leader to oversee their technology efforts, only 28% come from a technology background.

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“All industries are experiencing some form of disruption – Canada's real estate industry is no exception,” said Lorne Burns, partner and national industry leader for KPMG's building, construction, and real estate group. “Historically, it's been a conservative industry, but companies can no longer afford a wait-and-see approach. If you're not already embracing digital technology and leveraging data, you run the risk of either losing market share or experiencing revenue income erosion or both.”

The report recommended several ways for Canadian real estate companies to embrace new PropTech trends, including hiring leaders with technology backgrounds to lead digital transformation initiatives, rather than appointing real estate leaders from within; embedding data and analytics into how they run their business; building a company-wide digital strategy; partnering with PropTech companies to co-create solutions; looking beyond streamlining operations and cutting costs to find ways to use technology to improve engagement with tenants, customers, and customers' tenants; and assessing cyber security readiness to ensure their data is well protected

“Canadian real estate companies are awakening to the digital era, albeit a bit slowly. Now's the time for them to really dive in,” said Saqib Jawed, partner and the PropTech Lead for KPMG's Building, Construction and Real Estate group. “This'll look different for every company, of course; large companies with deeper pockets will explore technology in different ways than smaller companies will. But, the only way to find what works for your business is to get started.”