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PropTech Riga Press release: PropTech Riga 2019: the most valuable resource today is no longer oil, but data. Data is the new oil.

At PropTech Riga 2019, the real estate and innovations forum that took place in Riga on 27 September, nearly each speaker, whether relating about global trends, or demonstrating an application of cutting-edge technologies, or just sharing their company experience, emphasized the significance of data. You may as well say that this international forum was about data: how to collect it, to structure, analyse and use it – both in the context of industry and urban environment, and each particular company, and how to apply it for further development and efficient customer management: “The most valuable resource today is no longer oil, but data. Data is the new oil.”

The international forum PropTech Riga 2019 took place in Riga on the 27th September, organized by the Latvian Real Estate Association LANĪDA, attracting huge interest and convening more than 200 participants: real estate developers, sellers and industry companies, lawyers, finance professionals, startups, technology experts – all those having interest in hot technology trends in the real estate field.

This year, the podium was taken by experts from 14 countries – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Finland and Ireland.

Global sensation

PropTech is a new, hot trend in real estate (RE) field, blending the RE industry – property and technologies to capitalize on their synergies for enhanced industry development. This is a brand new trend, and bringing the RE industry the long-awaited and necessary technologic solutions for more effective business organization.

PropTech is globally trendy, stated Jonas Canton, a speaker at the forum, a serial entrepreneur and PropTech facilitator from Switzerland, according to his observations, there has been a steep rise of interest in the subject in Google search since 2016, and “we may as well call it a global sensation”. He went on to say that according to a recent global survey, 73% of decision makers see digital and technological innovation as an opportunity, at the same time it remains an uncharted territory to 56% of those who admit lacking knowledge and training about the PropTech sector, hence 60% do not have a clear enterprise-wide digital and technological innovation vision and strategy.

“Everything in the RE industry will change, from listing, showing, financing, inspects, and more will all be done online enabled by AI’s. Artificial intelligence will be omnipresent and the speed of change is challenging. As the tsunami of technologies comes, the common reception would always be initial incredulity and caution. Although, sometimes it is hard to spot a revolution in progress, when you are actually in it. What happens before the industry gets disrupted by PropTech? You have to partner with PropTech,” emphasized Wouter Truffino, (Netherlands), Founder of Holland ConTech & PropTech, Global PropTech, when introducing to the red-hot trends.

Technology is the answer, but what was the question? 

Ivan Nokhrin (Russia), the founder of Wiredhut, co-founder of PropTech Russia, quoting the eminent architect Cedric Price, who had admitted that “technology is the answer” and mused over “what was the question?”, encouraged to revisit the fundamental questions of the industry, the ones that technologies should come as a response to, i.e. what is that we are willing to achieve by means of them. “The primary and major question would be – how to provide better experience for the occupier in buildings? – the response to which would be the development of various technologies, solutions, better benchmarking for building performance comparison (such as green, smart houses by the EDGE Technologies, BREEAM, etc.)”.

“PropTech has emerged approximately six years ago, and now this industry is booming. PropTech means all kinds of innovation across all RE asset classes, as well as the construction process. We should keep in mind that by 2050, there will be 2 billions of new people on the planet, and we need to build new buildings to house them. Despite of that, construction at the moment is second most underdigitalized industry (with agriculture being first). To fill this gap, there is the bustling PropTech ecosystem in Europe with over 2900 PropTech startups and 23 national PropTech HUBs. By geographical split, the activity is high in the north of Europe, although London, Paris, Madrid are arguably the major hubs of PropTech. The development of PropTech is not going to be like a tsunami, razing everything on its way, but like global warming: the change will be gradual, step by step, until the global picture has changed,” was the vision shared at the forum by Idriss Goossens (Belgium), founder of PropTech Lab, co-founder of PropTech House.

Data of digital era – for personalized communication

An excellent example of data being collected, analysed and used, was brought by Carol Tallon (Ireland), CEO of Property District and founder of PropTech Ireland, introducing the audience to a website, where the inhabitants of Ireland are welcome to step in the virtual urban environment to see and sense the things that are built are yet to be built, an augmented reality platform that can be used for public consultation at project design stage, as well as at pre-development stage, collecting local area insights and proposals from the community. “This is an AI-enabled platform that we use to collect opinions, what people think about the neighbourhood, transport, green spaces, etc., – thus we are able to process the data and opinions, and then we forward the opinion summary further. No longer the way that developers are unaware – is such or another project required or not,” said the placemaking expert.

Data must be used as basis for developing a personalized approach to clients, reconfirmed Alexander Ragozin (Russia), general Director at KONNEKTU, by adding: “The communication between us and the consumer keeps changing, as previously stepping from traditional to digital, now we are entering the era of personal marketing. Those to develop a personalized approach will turn out as winners, i.e., what you need are sites, where you can view your, personalized information. Data, when skilfully processed, can change your business results.” As a sample, he mentioned a sales company, which had a solution developed for customer data processing, analysis and development of motivation products. The results revealed that the average check amount growth of each person, who was in the database and had been communicated with, by sending personalized messages, information, was 30%.

Stefan Müller-Schleipen(Germany), CEO at Immovativ GmbH, presented the audience with UrbanTech – a new, smart digital database for cities and urban planners, which shows vacancies – vacant territories available for project development, as well as vacant residential and retail space. “By means of our company’s developed tool, this information is uploaded to a free of charge website (an RE portal similar to Google), and it helps people to search for vacancies as well as to report their ones. We aim at building such a system in Latvia, and next year in Switzerland,” he said.

Entrepreneurs of our closest neighbours – Lithuania and Estonia – shared their experience of integrating innovative solutions in business: the Lithuanian company EIKA demonstrated their virtual reality tool and customer relations management platform, while the Estonian hotel business developers ÖÖD – their offer to hospitality business – attractive mini-unit reflective blend-in nature houses.

Sergejs Volvenkins, Head of digital department at Latvian company iMarketings.lv, introduced the public with the most recent study, carried out together with Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Real Estate Associations. The conference participants had an opportunity to compare the experience and different approaches to digital marketing across the three Baltic countries, as well as to have a look at reasons why some marketing activities are not as yielding as real estate companies would like them to be.

The forum was finalized by an Oxford debate, with real estate experts Ardi Roosimaa(Estonia) and Aigars Šmits (Latvia) discussed, whether the RE industry needs a further digitalization. The Estonian colleague supported the idea that “digitalization is to our aid: both the industry, as well as customers”, while Šmits argued that: “The RE dynamics for the past decade in Latvia is flat – which implies that there is nothing we can miss by being late. I am not against development and new technologies, but – who is going to pay for these insanely expensive IT tools? Their implementation requires thorough consideration.” By a small margin of vote of forum participants, the debate was won by those in support of further digitalization.

Running parallel to the above activities was the Innovations Open Stage, organized by support of the smart home solutions company Istabai. Everyone with a bright PropTech idea was able to present it to the audience, the stage also hosted the PropTech startup competition, where 17 startups from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, the Czech Republic, Germany and Great Britain made their pitches on solutions for real estate industry. The winner of the competition was a Latvian startup – OROCON, introducing their online planning and scheduling tool designed for to organise work for fast real-time project activity in construction management and monitoring.

Forum speaker presentations here:
Startup competition pitches here:
Photos: https://www.facebook.com/PropTechriga2019/photos/?tab=album&album_id=459305191327158

Additional information:
Anita Ozoliņa, project manager
e-mail: lanida@lanida.lv
Phone: +371 29742721, +371 67332034