We all remember very well this year’s EXPO REAL and the new NOVA3 area, where real estate met innovation. We found lot of interesting discussions about how the industry can adopt new technologies – but also on steps that needs to be taken in order to find the perfect understanding of how start-ups and corporates can really profit from each other.


During this 3-day event, international experts from the industry shared their insights on trends and challenges


Already last year, established german real estate magazine immobilienmanager brought together Expo Real participants and experts from various sectors at the Apleona booth at Munich trade fair center in October.  

Each of the participants had one thing in common: They are all a driver for digital innovations in their own field. In 2018, the main focus was much more customer centered and how to put the user into the focus of new developments. The outcome of this year’s conference was a bit different. Their results on what has changed in one year and answers to the question: “How far is the digital transformation in the real estate industry” were recently published here.


Now, one year later, things moved forward quite a bit. But how far we got? 


Proptech is a fast and dynamically growing industry that attracts more and more the attention of startups and investors around the world.

“Proptech companies are very active and new ideas are constantly entering the market. We can see good pilot projects, where young companies and associates are working together. But, the scaling is still missing. In this respect, not much has happened on the market, “states Apleona CEO Dr. Jochen Keysberg. Dr. Zsolt Sluitner, CEO of Siemens Real Estate, agrees on that: “The progress of implementation is slow. Let’s call it a “go-live”, but unfortunately just a small one.


One reason for that is probably due to the excellent market conditions. “The pressure is missing”, summarizes Hendrik Staiger, chairman of the board at CREM association Crenet as well as member of the BEOS AG Executive Board. But that doesn’t mean things are not moving forward. “The world is changing”, so Susanne Bonfig, Head of Digital Asset Management at Commerz Real. Companies are recognizing more and more that focused investment in the company’s USP is crucial. “That is one reason why co-operations in the real estate industry are constantly increasing,”  Bonfig continues. 


Common initiatives for standardization or even generating standard software solutions – to be used by everyone within the industry – are the first signs of change. According to Hendrik Staiger and Dr. Zsolt Sluitner, big corporates on the other hand, tend to keep their knowledge and know-how to themselves and see co-operations more critically.


Statistics show, that 65% of respondents expect that Proptech companies will be critical to the development of commercial real estate in the world. 


How do we prepare for that?
“In terms of education, schools and universities are reacting. Education in Data Sciences hits the third place in Germany.” as Professor Wolfgang Schäfers from the University of Regensburg states. As for his home university, Real estate management programs integrate blockchain applications, virtual reality and machine learning in their studies. 


Unified Data standards


So far, so good. But there was also another big topic worth discussing: Should Data standards be unified? There is disagreement regarding that – a good approach, but not very realistic: “The data landscape is too fragmented. Nowadays, more crucial are concepts such as “Datalakes” – where all data is collected, which enables the evaluation of unstructured data by suitable tools”, so Hendrik Staiger.


Digital transformation is all about transparency, sharing of information, mutual learning and common development – all virtues the industry in Germany is apparently slightly lacking. “That’s why the US is ahead of us” sais Wolfgang Schäfers: “We have a great fundamental research, but we do not get their results going.”


By now, there are already plenty of good examples on how far the industry has come in terms of digitization. In the end, it is all about collaboration. 


Fact is, you have to adopt new technologies in order to stay on top of the industry. Fast changing technologies require steady learning from us as corporates but also proptech companies in order to find the common ground and develop solution serving us all best. And let’s see how much more we will know by next year’s Expo Real.