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Digital transformation powering productivity


Digital technology can revolutionise the way that SMEs/agents operate by increasing productivity levels in the workplace.  The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) highlights “With their relatively low overheads and installation costs, the right digital tools can dramatically improve productivity without causing significant disruption to the day-to-day running of a business.”

“Whether it’s cloud accounting software, workflow management tools or e-commerce functions, digital tools – and the skills needed to identify the right tools and use them effectively – can elevate businesses to the next level of growth.”

Productivity in its simplest form measures the amount of output produced per worker.  Higher productivity means that a business produces more output for each worker it employs.  It’s important because it is a key determinant of living standards in the long term. Growing productivity over time means businesses can produce more goods and services per unit, permitting higher wages, supporting economic growth, holding back inflation and increasing tax revenues, in turn making it easier for the government to provide essential services. 

Its importance makes the UK’s relatively poor productivity performance since 2008 one of the UK’s biggest economic policy challenges. The latest FSB Spotlight on Innovation report discovered that …  

…43% of small businesses believe that they simply do not have the time to implement new innovations

…Fewer than half (40%) have made use of cloud applications or services 

According to the Office for National Statistics:
The UK as a whole still continues to perform poorly with regards to output and productivity. The latest labour market statistics data and GDP first quarterly estimates indicate that productivity per hour decreased for the third consecutive quarter by 0.2% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019, compared with the same quarter in the previous year.

However, when looking at the services sector, productivity growth is tracking at 0.2% when compared with the same quarter in the previous year.  So what’s the picture for the property sector?

Real estate activities
In the classification ‘real estate activities’:

Hours worked: 2017 vs 2018: up by 1.75%
Hours worked: Q1 2018 vs Q1 2019: up by 4.03%
Productivity gains: 2017 vs 2018: down by 0.75%
Value of output 2017 vs 2018: up by 0.53%
Productivity gains: Q1 2018 vs Q1 2019: up by 5.15%
Value of output: Q1 2018 vs Q1 2019: up by 6.27%

The stats highlight how tough the marketplace is at the moment – longer hours seem to be required to gain more productivity and value.  However on a positive note, the industry appears to be bucking the UK-wide poor performance.

So, what’s driving productivity improvements?  The industry is gradually embracing a host of new technology with a focus on speeding up and streamlining antiquated processes, adding value to their services and providing customers with 24/7 access to information.

Examples of time and cost saving technologies available in the sector include:

  • Virtual Reality technology to provide 3D virtual property tours
  • Augmented reality apps to virtually decorate
    living spaces
  • Cloud based portals to speed up and streamline the traditional purchasing process – paperwork and documents can be completed, signed and transferred online in real time

Unfortunately, the rental sector has been negatively impacted by a number of factors recently, including new legislation and greater regulation leading to increased administration, the introduction of the tenant fee ban and wider political and economic uncertainty.

On a day to day basis, a letting agents ‘to-do’ list is never ending …preparing tenancy agreements, negotiating renewals, managing properties, dealing with tenants, carrying out inspections and producing reports, dealing with maintenance, managing contractors and ensuring landlords are happy. With so many tasks to action and only so many hours in a day, it’s imperative that agents harness the power of new technology wherever possible, and one area they can do this is in the property reporting process. The following diagram highlights how TouchRight can increase productivity and save time in comparison to traditional, manual paper-based methods.

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