Our Q&A series is an opportunity for our Nordic team, headed by Sanna Walfridsson to discuss all things PropTech, Start-ups, and Career with different founders from across the region. Each week we will ask PropTech innovators burning questions and quiz them about their product, we hope you find it insightful and enjoy getting to know the founders as much as we have.
At Ubiqisense, they created an occupancy & footfall sensor which collects data on the way people use and interact with spaces. They help create a better work environment and a better workplace experience, by helping companies adapt spaces to people’s real needs. Their solution provides valuable insights and by integrating it with other smart energy-saving solutions, it contributes to making buildings more sustainable entities.
Over the past two years the big Real Estate players in Denmark have really started to warm up to PropTech. A few years ago around the time when PropTech DK was started, these players were kind of curious but they didn’t seem to want to leverage PropTech. Now it seems like more and more of these big companies have started to understand the value of protech and they also take it more seriously.
You see whole management changes at big companies, putting digital front and centre in everything they do. Their competitors realise that they can’t just do business the same way they used to do and such a move is stirring up the whole industry having a strong impact on PropTech.
Another thing that will bring change is sustainability and how PropTech can contribute to making Real Estate a more sustainable industry. Like pension funds that only want to invest in buildings that are saving on energy and that are also certified by some of the building certifications. This also accelerates the growth of PropTech, as a lot of the solutions are focusing on sustainability.
Companies not knowing about PropTech and not being motivated to adopt it has been a challenge. This is something that has to be driven by regulations or financial incentives. Now we have the EU taxonomy on building efficiency, which makes it too expensive not to do anything and makes it impossible to do things the way we used to do.
Our biggest challenge as a company has been facing Covid. We provide insights into how people use buildings so empty buildings were not good business.
A big challenge is the lack of standardisation and fragmentation of all the different solutions, each solving their own little piece of the -building & user experience puzzle-. The industry is growing and increasing in complexity. Which raises the question: how can you standardise that whole thing and make sure that all the data and solutions create value in many different ways.
If you have 14 different systems in the building and they all want to talk together, then there are so many integrations you have to do that it becomes impossible. Putting all that data into an operating system and then building applications on top of that, just like you do on a computer, will probably be the way forward.
A computer has a lot of input devices, a keyboard, a touch pad, a mouse, a bunch of sensors and then you have the operating system that handles all the data that comes in from all these input devices. Then you build applications on top of that, which make use of all the data that comes in from these input devices. You can apply the same logic to a building. All sorts of data coming in from all sorts of data sources, which goes in the same big data model of that building and then you build applications on top of that. I can see ourselves a couple of years down the road that with our analytics and our portal we don’t just look at our own sensor data.
Our sensor data will be an input into the operating building system, but then you could build all kinds of applications on top of that. We could leverage data from many different data sources to provide intelligent analytics on the building. It ties in with the whole digital twin, not just being a virtual representation of physical aspects of the building but also the activities in the building and all the data that is generated in the building – a true digital twin.
Our biggest customer today is because of covid. There is so much more focus on the user experience at workplaces than there was 2 years ago. Before covid, you were forcing people to adapt to what the building offered you because everyone was going to the office and there was no discussion about that. Now after two years of working from home, people got used to that and they also kind of like it. Today buildings need to be adapted to the needs of people. It is very simple, if the user experience is not right then people will not come to the office.
We are also facing another challenge, which is that remote work threatens long term innovation. Microsoft did this study where they could clearly see the impact on innovation when people didn’t meet in person at an office anymore.
Although we believe in the hybrid model, it is also important to find a good balance between working remotely and meeting up at the office. Each company will have to find that right balance and what works best for them.
If you live off your innovation it is a huge issue if you don’t facilitate innovation. That is why you need to provide a user experience that makes people want to come back to the office. Sustainability has also become a big part of the user experience, as young people demand sustainability in a totally different way.
It is becoming more and more important for everyone to understand how people use spaces, so we are focusing on geographical expansion. We are covering Europe, we are really strong in the Nordics, and we believe that we have a really good proposition for the US and APAC.
PropTech will become mainstream and you will see all the players in this complex value chain in Real Estate starting to align more.
We will see disruption in the whole Real Estate industry. It doesn’t make sense to have a siloed way of doing things, where you have someone ordering someone else to build a building at the lowest possible cost and they sell it off to someone who starts managing the building..there are so many different stakeholders right now.
Ultimately we are going towards this space as a service approach where you basically rent what you need and you can do it for very short lease times. You don’t lease space for 10 years anymore as you used to. Space as a service is the trend and you can’t do that in a profitable way without using technology.
YIT with the Workery + concept is a good example, as they are an extension of the corporate office that can help mitigate this challenge when the office is too far away. It is a scalable solution and we will probably see a lot more of that.
Right now we are collecting a lot of data on behaviour and we believe that the next step will be to bring the human experience quality to all this data. We should never forget people, that is also why we started to collaborate with companies that look at understanding the experience of people. Using those insights together with our data gives a more complete view of how spaces are actually used and why they are used the way they are used.
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