Fresh from MIPIM last month, Guy Windsor-Lewis, chief executive and founder of Locale, is adamant that PropTech innovators must return to the frontlines of the digital conversation to drive transformation in real estate.
Property is a people’s game, and so the feeling of relief at MIPIM was undeniable, vibrating throughout the conference. While it was disappointing to see a lack of gender diversity, there was relief to revisit relationships that may have been stalled, limited, or slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Relief to be amidst property professionals who were happy to share their excitement and passion for real estate. For me, it was a relief to strengthen bonds and network in-person within the beautiful Cannes setting. It’s not Wales, but it’ll do!
A sea change at MIPIM 2022
Last month we celebrated 17 years of Locale, and digital adoption in the real estate sector has been very much at the heart of my tenure. Few have recognised its merits early and embraced the change with continued success. Most buried their heads in the sand refusing to accept the inevitable digital transformation wave, adopted solutions unfit for purpose or simply too complex to use, and ultimately ditched them to retreat to their old ways. It was therefore eye opening to see how tech dominated the MIPIM agenda this year. It flowed through every conversation, panel discussion, seminar, and speaker. It was the main seam of the event; crucially it’s those who are truly championing the benefits of PropTech that are taking centre stage proving time after time that technology is a necessity rather than a luxury in a louder and firmer voice.
Digital by default
Speaker Jorge Blanco, chief commercial officer for Altus Group, discussed how digital is not an accessory; it must be viewed like bricks and mortar, and for the industry to drive meaningful value and innovation, we must replace gut feeling with data. For real estate operators to become inspired by technology and motivated to use it, we must give the stage to people like Jorge, those who truly believe long-term change is needed, and in the digital product and services that can facilitate that change.
We need innovators, not fundraisers
MIPIM’s core focus has never been about talking shop and the typical axe and grind of selling. It’s been about coming together in force to discuss emerging topics and trends, find solutions to growing issues and concerns, discover new friendships and of course maintain existing partnerships. Yet, over the years, more and more gravitas has been attached to fundraisers, raising money for start-ups and whatever new ‘wow’ tech is coming to market. This year, the superstars were those at the root of innovation, passion, and an understanding for the digital transformation that is yet to fully pass in real estate, yet is incredibly close to doing so.
To edge the industry over the finishing line, we must champion the digital revolution loudly and proudly showing true value. I’ll be doing just that. With 17 years of rich heritage, experience, and knowledge behind us, we know where tech can truly take real estate.