Technology set to benefit everyone with “the gift of time” across the property transaction

Paul Albone spent the early part of his career writing and overseeing large scale IT systems in both MoD and Telecoms environments, before joining tmgroup in 2002.

Since then, Paul has architected tmgroup’s systems to become market leading, and was also instrumental in transitioning the business out of NLIS and into (and out of) HIPS.

In his role as Managing Director, Paul oversaw the expansion of the business into Scotland and its acquisition of Conveyancing Data Services (CDS). In his current role as Chief Technology Officer (CTO), he is overseeing a programme of modernization, as well as strategic alignment of roadmaps within the connected markets.

 

With over thirty years’ experience behind me, I can safely say that adoption of new technology is typically seen as an expense and a necessary evil. But when we look back over the last 3 decades, and consider I spent my early career developing nuclear monitoring systems on devices less powerful than my toaster, it is easy to forget how the advancements of technology have become the everyday norm – even if it is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment it happened.

So what will become the norm for the property transaction in the years ahead?

Digital! You’ll find it difficult to read an article nowadays without coming across the phrase ‘digital journey’, but what does that actually mean for the customer? To me, it defines how the user interacts with a service proposition, as well as the adoption of ‘online’ web-based services. Digital is often symbiotic to joined up and can also imply speed – especially when related to communications.

Digital then goes “hand in hand” with the increasing shift towards collaboration, which has a couple of key facets to my mind. At the forefront is the interaction between the multiple stakeholders involved in a property transaction, and also of course the ability to integrate with the various connected application vendors.

We need to see a cultural leap from “what’s in it for me” to “what’s in it for everyone”

However, it is not quite so digital in the property transaction, where silos still exist between the estate agent, homemover, conveyancer and many others, and many still fall back on paper processes when they can. This is not yet a complete digital journey, but our forced confinement over the last 18 months has prompted a welcomed acceleration – including the shift to remote working.

Unfortunately, the collaboration of application vendors continues to be a challenge – with many providers still needing to take the cultural leap from “what’s in it for me” to “what’s in it for everyone” in order to drive real change. This being said, there is a renewed interest and focus on designing systems with an API First approach, where the ability to integrate is baked into the original design of the product – removing some of the barriers to adoption.

This shift will make vendor choice increasingly significant in the coming years, and even more so given the impact that vendor disruption can have on a large ecosystem – as recently highlighted by network provider Fastly’s disruption to Amazon, The Guardian, and even gov.uk websites.

So what does the future hold?

Without anyone’s hand being forced by legislation, I expect small decisions will be made over periods of time and we will slowly drift towards wider adoption of technology – due to ‘the time being right’ when the decision is made. We’ll get there and will inevitably wonder how we ever managed to operate ‘in the old way’.

To accelerate that time line, decisioning needs to move away from the cost of purchasing the services and towards the increased quality of service it can provide, such as automating tasks and creating workflow efficiencies. This will help to create “the gift of time” for everyone connected across the property transaction, and in turn shift the focus to providing that all-important human touch.

The good news is that we’re certainly heading in the right direction, particularly with HM Land Registry making significant changes (such as the development of their next generation Gateway), but I sincerely hope that when we look back at technology as a whole in 10 years, we truly appreciate that technology is not just a cost, but a tool for making time.

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