How do I make technology work in property?

We all know that the make up of people in property and particularly the property industry has a skew towards the traditional. These are people that are less likely to be ‘digital natives’ than your children or my children. The chances that they are active on twitter, have an Instagram account and have been caught by phishing recently are not high. If you asked a typical group to share their top ten new apps this month and give their opinion on the new iPhone 8 you might be waiting a while. We don’t cast this view as a bad thing, it simply is the make up of the property industry currently.

What we have observed at Forsite over the last twelve months is that three simple things make a huge amount of difference between technology working for me in property or not.


First and foremost I think this is really about talking about property not technology. Whilst technology is really helpful its about the work I need to do in my industry and how this simply helps to do that work. With technology it is very easy to speak in tech speak and say a lot whilst my users understand and hear nothing. If I don’t understand how can I work towards achieving benefit from the use of technology? Understand my word, understand my challenges, share how the technology will help me manage these challenges and I am much closer to understanding why I am going to use this technology.

This means do:

· Talk to me in my language – Facilities management, reactive maintenance, planned maintenance, BWOF

· Understand my challenges, often time

· Let me know WIIFM – what’s in it for me

This means don’t:

· Overwhelm me with everything at once

· Let me know our three year plan with technology and change

· Use buzzwords like disruption and digital native – whoops see earlier comment!


Technology that is easy to learn and even easier to use. Simple to say, much more difficult to do. Practically this means understand the users and involve users where possible. But do it in a simply easy manner. Don’t create long online surveys that users will get half way through and lose interest. Don’t provide 30 minute online training videos. Don’t provide a master manual of 50 pages that I need to spend hours finding where things are. Make the system specific for a few key purposes that help me without overwhelming me.

This means do:

· Provide the right training materials – simple easy to follow processes.

· Provide Videos and make them short and to the point.

· Get feedback from users as often as I can. 

This means don’t:

· Add extra steps unless you absolutely have to!

· Add extra features and function less they are critical to your users!

· Bombard users with online surveys.


Change management is real and it means that I will be doing some entirely new, or doing something I did before in a very different way. Speak to any addiction recovery specialist, any personal trainer, any psychologist and they will tell you don’t treat this lightly. Many will suggest I need to do the new habit a number of times for a minimum of three weeks to establish my new habit. Now I am not suggesting creating an addiction, but I am suggesting recognize how you can make this change easier for your users. Simply do enable me to do this as frequently as possible. Make it easy to get help or advice when or if I need. Don’t demand, or highlight people who may be uncomfortable with this change, help me to easily get used to change.

This means do:

· Provide solutions that I will use frequently

· Make it an open forum, so I can easily ask for help if I need it.

· Make it  possible to get help without highlighting the user

This means don’t:

· Start with you must

· Highlight people who may not have done this before

· Highlight people who are less familiar with technology

So in summary think about the experience you want the users of your technology to have. Remember to speak their language, not technology language. Remember you are more than likely creating a new habit, enable them to use the new technology many times in a short period of time, enable them to use technology easily and quickly and enjoy new technologies working in your property business with your users!

Simon Yock,
Forsite CEO