2015 has been an exciting year for Technology in the Property & Construction sector with the industry enjoying long awaited growth. PSD's technology expert James Collins has taken time to review this year's trends in Technology across the sector and discuss the skillsets we expect to see in demand moving into 2016.

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Data, BI and Analytics

Property and construction companies produce a wealth of useful data but this is rarely organised, analysed or monetised effectively. In part this is because data is often stored in dispersed systems, or worse, kept in spreadsheets hidden on personal desktops. But it is also because of a lack of talent available to manage and manipulate that data as noted in this JLL / Forrester report. We have been working with our clients this year to bolster their talent pools in data management, particularly with regards to data strategy, BI and analytics. One barrier property companies are facing in attracting data skillsets is salaries; the best candidates often come from sectors where data practices are more established and pay out to attract and retain the best talent. We expect to see a further wave of data and BI recruitment into the sector in 2016 as boards come to better understand the potential for good data practice to add value to their operations

Digital Disruption

Disruption is the Future. Data driven applications along with other customer facing tech are transforming the way business is conducted across all industries. Property is catching up and, in some cases, making big leaps in developing technology as part of the product offering. JLL has released its RED (Real Estate Data) platform this year and its competitors are looking to develop a range of similar client-facing tools. Property companies are also exploring the possibilities of emergent technologies like virtual reality which will surely make an impact on the way real estate is marketed in what is a very visual industry - virtual reality can show a client what a building will look like before it is built or walk clients through building interiors from the other side of the world in high definition 3D. Some of the larger property companies are investing in accelerators and innovation hubs focussed on creating new technologies to roll out across their estates.

Start-ups

2015 marked the rise of PropTech start-ups backed by a range of accelerators and incubators. PiLabs, in a strategic partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and Spire Ventures, has been introducing a number of interesting new tech-based property initiatives to the UK market. London remains a popular location for start-ups with its concentration of forward-thinking angel investors and trendy shared-office spaces. But it's still early days and the impact these will have remains to be seen - the traditional prop cos many of these agile start-ups are hoping to sell their products into are much slower to adopt new tech than the consumers who lapped up Zoopla and Rightmove. We will see a rise in the requirement for experienced developers and sales people to build and promote these products in 2016 as well as investors looking for experienced technology leadership in the form of CEOs and CTOs to lead new initiatives. #PropTech.

Business Change, Adoption and Engagement

The speed at which new technologies are having to be adopted to keep a competitive edge is only increasing and the way that businesses operate on a day-to-day basis is changing as a result. One of the greatest challenges across all sectors we have seen is finding the right amount of change; that is, maintaining the balance between the implementation of new technology and the rate at which users are able to learn and adopt new ways of working. We have also seen recruitment into recently devised business transformation and technology engagement units in some of the larger organisations we work with to tackle these issues head on.

Salaries

Salary trends across the sector have been patchy at best this year. Across all industries we have seen a mild trend towards rising pay with the most significant hikes usually received through moving company (our salary survey will be published in January). But property companies tend not to pay the highest salaries in spite of the need to attract candidates with skillsets not well established in the sector. In order to get the talent they need these companies are increasingly having to offer salaries that are at odds with internal salary structures. Technology departments will have to work closely with HR to realign salary bandings in 2016. Some organisations are already undergoing thorough talent reviews and these could result in significant pay rises next year. But for most companies this is a complex and political process so expect to see renewed focus on internal training and development too. Of course, the other alternative is to do nothing and fall behind.

James Collins is a Technology recruitment expert at PSD Group who works extensively with companies in the Property & Construction market. He regularly writes on emergent technology in the Property and Construction world.
If you would like to comment on this article or discuss talent acquisition, James' contact details are here.