Ipad holding buildings

As I look forward to attending and speaking at a number of industry Technology events on behalf of Kykloud, I am encouraged to write a post to prepare for two common questions I get asked about our technology: “where does Kykloud fits into the ‘proptech’ stack?” and “is this something that happened overnight?”.

To answer these questions you have to look back to 1985. In summary there has been very little change in property technology market from 1985 to 2010. We had ‘Computer Aided Design’ (CAD), ‘Computer Aided Facility Management’ (CAFM) and property management systems arrive in the late 1980’s. These ‘on premise’ systems were often expensive, slow, not portfolio friendly and had awful mobile tools. The incumbents rolled in the maintenance fees and became lazy. Meanwhile ERP, documentation, finance and CRM systems showed us what could be possible. This led to many real estate professionals getting fed up with the tools available and giving up their jobs to starting technology firms. Sound familiar? Since 2010 there has been an explosion in technology which is set to accelerate over the next 10 years driven by mobile apps, the cloud and a convergence of construction and real estate tech and data.

Kykloud arrived in 2011 but it’s fair to say that that many parts of the industry took until 2014-15 to make the move and adopt any technology of note. This is illustrated in the time line below:

The acceleration in 2016 is further illustrated by serious market activity. For example, there are at least three #Proptech or #CRETech events happing in the UK over the next month including Dynamo: BuildPropteq, and Future:Property Tech showing a growing technology movement which many in the industry are delighted to see. The US scene is driven by industry backed forums such asCRE//Tech. It is also proving to be really attractive to both technology users and investors alike (the US saw $1.7bn investment in 2015 into this technology). Property dedicated technology incubators have appeared on both sides of the Atlantic (PiLabs and Metaprop). A perfect storm, and far cry from the barren landscape we found when we first entered this space in 2011.

The space, as I see it, is at least seven different but inter-connected technology layers, some mature and some yet to fully evolve, which we see as all being relevant to the future of what we do at Kykloud. These technologies are rapidly changing the landscape we operate within and the timing is very favourable for the right technology. The time is now, but I’d say gone are the days of one single platform doing everything, more an inter-connected property data driven eco-system. Those layers are set out below and in simple words what I think they are:

  1. Proptech/CRE Tech – what assets do I have, their value, their condition, how do I lease or better manage them?
  2. BIM – how is my asset built, what’s the specification, what data can is useful over the asset’s life?
  3. VR/AR/Scanning – how can I visualise existing assets, what does my asset look like in 3D they way I want to see or place it, how can see my asset before I buy?
  4. GIS – where is my asset on a map, what risks are near it or what data is relevant to my asset. Where are the hotspots?
  5. IoT – what can my assets link together, how can I measure and monitor them?
  6. Smart Cities – what does a city wide linked network of assets look like and how can this benefit the users at a city level?
  7. Property / Real Estate / Buildings as a service – how do I better commercialise my real estate assets?

They are further set out below, I’m sure there are more:

TECHNOLOGY LAYER 1. Real Estate and Property Tech (CRETech / PropTech)

Cloud based technologies have transformed our industry in the last 5 years and Kykloud has been at the core of the transformation in the UK. I start here as this is the layer that’s most active and most relevant to existing real estate. There are a number of strands in this package of technologies that are core to what we do:

• Mobile Data Collection Applications: Property and real estate professionals are on the go. Surveyors, brokers, landlords, property managers, appraisers and developers are constantly running around visiting properties. Many of the most successful applications serving this market are or have a robust mobile component.

This “Mobile First” approach was where Kykloud started with our first product release. In Oct 2014 the RICS (leading global certifier of real estate professionals) Modus Magazine listed its“Fast Five technologies changing the industry” and had at No 1 “A Touch of Genius – Surveying by Tablet” where Kykloud was quoted as the main mover. Other featured technology included drones, infra-red imagery, game engine driven BIM/VR, and next generation GIS mapping.

• Property and Facilities Management: Several tech companies are already competing for dominance in this category, most offering software that helps property owners and management companies oversee and easily track commercial real estate assets and costs. Computer aided FM (CAFM) or fully integrated workplace management (IWM) solutions are now common place in large corporates covering maintenance, help desk, space management, document and task management. The almost unlimited number of sites that can be managed means that industry-wide adoption is still sub-10 percent, though, so lots of opportunity for growth remains. Early desktop products were available back into the late 1990’s but the Cloud had accelerated their uptake. Kykloud’s recent product developments are in property and asset management and we focus on asset risk i.e. condition, cost and compliance. To give an idea of scale in the UK we spend around £150bn a year on our assets – £100bn on facilities management an around £50bn on repair and maintenance. The UK built asset stock value at £5tn is 1/20 of the global market.

• Research and Analytics: Traditionally, commercial real estate professional would spend many hours with teams of excel demi-god analysts gathering demographic research to evaluate an investment opportunity or risk. Today, open data initiatives in municipalities across the country — combined with creative needle threading by software developers — is changing this landscape, and much of the data is now readily available. Kykloud has collected many millions of date points and there is much potential in the space providing data for insurance and risk based industries.

• Residential and Commercial Lending: Regulatory changes have opened up opportunities for innovation in lending, and real estate lending is by far the largest sub-category. There are emerging companies targeting this area in different ways either through crowd funding or capital sourcing. Residential and commercial lending are very different and some already dominate. Kykloud now also has a standalone product offering in this area for residential property surveys and valuation.

• Leasing/Listing Services/Tech-Enabled Brokerages: tech-enabled commercial leasing and listing services, acting as marketplaces, and replacing the less efficient relationship-driven model that still persists today. There are many success stories in the space like VTS . This is not a Kykloud service area but one we could link into.

• Customer service driven applications: many new technologies focus on allowing residential and commercial property owners and occupiers mange their relationship with property, be it paying bills or getting repairs done. Help desk platforms have been in this space for many years and have allowed business to massively improve customer experiences with their real estate. We often to create field based alerts or links into such platforms.

TECHNOLOGY LAYER 2. BIM

2D CAD arrived in the 1980’s disrupting a world of paper, pen and ink. The recent evolution into Building Information Modelling (BIM) creates 3D data models showing all the items that make up a specific building, the systems and the components that went in to constructing the building in the first place – the type of concrete, the position of things, the type of glass used and so on. BIM systems have historically been pretty much self-contained. Items that were moved from one building to another, were broken and disposed of or replaced as part of standard maintenance procedures have had to be manually input into the system. Many argue that the real benefit of BIM is the standard data structures that have emerged from within the industry such as IFC. Leading lights in this market combine technology and services such asBIM Technologies. BIM is still very much the domain of new construction but when it moves into “Level 3” it becomes relevant to operating assets and when you ‘reverse’ BIM into existing buildings (see layer 3), you map the building in 3D. The move into the Cloud and API technology is now turning BIM into scalable viable technology. Kykloud is one BIM tool in the workflow, by providing a strand of real time asset condition and cost information collected over a building’s operational life.

TECHNOLOGY LAYER 3. VR/AR/Data Scanning 

If you look at what VR has one for the automotive industry through tech likeZeroLight its not hard to imagine how the technology will soon help customers in our industry. Taking many common features from BIM platforms this “front end” data scanning and visualisation tool set is something that non technical customers can use. Many firms are pushing into this technology seen through UK firms such as Luminous and we have recently seen property agents such asFoxtons make the move. Google has pushed into this space with Project Tango; the have mapped our streets, could they map our buildings? I suspect Autdodeskand Trimble may have other ideas!

TECHNOLOGY LAYER 4. GIS

Geospatial information systems (GIS) – Systems designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data. This first desktop GIS product appeared in 1986 and GIS is now used by many engineers and planners across the globe.

The technology has been proven and is now very mature. GIS platform now seek to “over lay” property data such as asset value, availability or condition data from technology like Kykloud using API driven interfaces

TECHNOLOGY LAYER 5. Internet of Things (IoT)

Some time back, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags were used to track assets, but a lack of true standardisation and cost meant this did not take off. Now, as the IoT starts to take off and the likes of Google invest, low cost sensors and monitors that are visible directly through existing networks will become possible.

IoT tags can be attached to pretty much anything and monitored through the right systems – already, disposable temperature sensors are being added to buildings. In real time, asset performance can they be plotted and tracked. 20 billion devices are already connected through IoT and this now expands to include many building systems and data, which could include data fed and supplied by Kykloud and we live in the same built environment as BIM, IoT, and GIS. 50 billion devices are predicted to be connected by 2020.

TECHNOLOGY LAYER 6. The “internet of place“ (Smart Cities)

I debated if this was the same as IoT. I think this is the ecosystem or the network itself. Although maybe still a blue sky concept, many connected smart buildings can create a “smart city” using information and communication technologies to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to improve contact between citizens and government.

Sectors that have been developing smart city technology include government services, transport and traffic management, energy, health care, water and waste. Smart city applications are developed with the goal of improving the management of urban flows and allowing for real time responses to challenges. Other terms that have been used for similar concepts include ‘cyberville, ‘digital city’’, ‘electronic communities’, ‘flexicity’, ‘information city’, ‘intelligent city’, ‘knowledge-based city, ‘MESH city’, ‘telecity, ‘teletopia’’, ‘Ubiquitous city’, ‘wired city’ or the Internet of Buildings’.

Google’s driverless cars led by maps represents a first glimpse of how this new age of computing is emerging. It grows in intelligence organically like an organism, like a primitive form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The convergence of these realities has produced the initial elements of producing geo-located data that is associated to a building. In fact, each building is using and in most cases, creating, data that is geospatially associated to itself that each building is becoming its own storage container of data, that can be served up on call like a computer server. “Every building has the opportunity to be a server. And when you connect buildings that are severs together, you have a network”. 

TECHNOLOGY LAYER 7. Future “Real estate / Property / Buildings / as service”

Our market has yet to see service disruption on the scale of say Uber or Airbnb, although there are early movers like apartments.com or wework. This model could be applied on many other areas.

Many ask who will dominate this “property as a service” economy or who will be the win the sought after crown of being the “Bloomberg for the property data world”? I’m not sure one single stand alone technology player is big enough or well-funded enough, yet. Exciting times ahead.