Proptech and getting mobile

The new wave of proptech innovation can help business leap forward but a substantial number may not be ready to harness technology because they haven’t embraced a mobility mindset. Here we look at the questions you need to answer.

The recent spurt in proptech does indeed offer the opportunity for the ‘digital transformation’ of businesses. George Westerman of the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy defines ‘digital transformation’ as being when companies ‘use technology to radically change the performance or reach of an enterprise’.

But tech lives on tech: that is to say Proptech not only enables better performance, it also demands changes in existing company tech, its IT systems and infrastructure.
Given the way in which we all now live and work, the currently pivotal aspect of technology transformation is the ultra-powerful mobile device in our pockets. And the present challenge is therefore to consider how business enables that device and delivers onto it the tech needed to work smarter and faster.

So if you’re an advocate of Proptech and a believer in mobile working, then the question you need to put to your Head of Innovation, Tech Director or outsourced IT consultant today is: “Does our digital strategy put mobile first?”.

Desktop computing is unlikely to disappear. But the traditional question: “Can it work on our PCs?” should no longer be the primary concern.

The key to successfully migrating mobile tech into business computing systems has been addressed by all the large software vendors. It goes by various names: Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM), Mobile Application Management (MAM), Mobile Device Management (MDM). But all have one goal and that is to deliver business security and corporate control while empowering staff with the latest that technology can offer.

These tools allow an IT department to monitor, manage and secure employees’ mobile devices and specific business apps held on personal devices. So staff devices may use differing operating systems and may be both company owned and personally owned. But MDM, like any software or hardware choice is not enough, a mobile strategy is required. As Evan Tomlin of leading IT consultancy, Insight, puts it: “There’s a difference between having mobile devices in your workplace and having a mobile strategy. You might have invested in a thousand devices. That doesn’t mean you’ve mastered mobility.

“What happens when the devices break? When it’s time to refresh? What about security? Covering these bases — and covering them methodically — is the difference between being a participant in the age of mobility and a leader in it.”
Our experience is with Dashflow, an iOS app whose speed and simplicity transforms the mechanics and costs of investment appraisals. But like all good Proptech, the app also has the potential to improve a variety of associated transaction processes internally and in relation to lenders, partners, and competitors. An app like this goes to the heart of the business and so it demands adequate corporate safeguards and prompt updating.

Just as your BBC iPlayer App can update effortlessly while you’re asleep, so too should each MDM-controlled business app upgrade seamlessly across employee devices.

Our app should be enabled to work hand-in-glove with existing security systems like MDM. But we find in London a somewhat patchy awareness and implementation of security for mobile management. One FTSE customer is moving to their 3rd MDM software. In contrast one of the leading UK names has yet to start using their first MDM.

Put simply mobile app choice and MDM are inseparable components of a mobile strategy. MDM provides sensible control over the use of mobile apps that deal with business critical and confidential matters. MDM can set parameters on a designated mobile device, determining what apps are on it and how those apps are allowed to function. But the aim is not to frustrate staff: so a viable policy will not block surveyors sending photos, or prevent salesmen texting clients.
When it comes to mobile security for critical data that goes to the heart of the business, it is generally recognized that Apple’s iOS platform has the edge and has had it for some time. Businesses that are dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft Windows users should not be frightened of Apple’s technology. After all, the Windows mobile platform never caught on. So any mobile strategy must enter a non-Windows realm.

For large businesses, MDM is essential and enables new tech to be assimilated in a robust and secure way. It is perhaps less essential for smaller enterprises because mobile risk increases in line with the number of users. But everyone needs to look again at their IT platforms in the context of Proptech innovation, and for the general good of their business.

…businesses with effective mobility strategies are rated higher by employees in attracting talent, getting the best work out of employees, and enabling creativity and innovation. Those that don’t have a secure mobile regime are seen as being behind the curve.

Views from The Economist Research

The use of mobile technology is the most obvious expression of flexibility and freedom at work. According to a study by The Economist, businesses with effective mobility strategies are rated higher by employees in attracting talent, getting the best work out of employees, and enabling creativity and innovation. Those that don’t have a secure mobile regime are seen as being behind the curve.
Computing systems are increasingly dominated by the demands of mobile working. Enabling secure and efficient ‘mobile working’ is a new attribute of computing. Here to stay. MDM means that there is no need to compromise on corporate security in this regard.

Without embracing mobile and without devising a mobile strategy that includes MDM, you may struggle to find your way within the Proptech revolution.

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