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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Time to Tech Action?

Jax Knepper, creator of digital inventory system Imfuna Let

We commissioned a research project recently, asking 100 lettings agents a series of questions about technology – from how they use it today to how they intend to use it in future. Admittedly ‘we’ (or rather the digital inventory system Imfuna Let) have a vested interest – having just launched our iPhone and Android app designed to take the user through the entire process of collection, reporting, editing, sharing and ultimately storing the full history of a property. What we discovered via the survey helped us realise that we were doing the right thing. Many, 78%, said that those who embrace new technology are more likely to be successful. In addition, 90% of those surveyed said that technology could improve their service to clients, speed up the entire letting process (77%) and generally improve productivity (75%).

However, the survey also revealed a significant challenge for the business. Only 11% of the lettings agent we surveyed said they were planning to invest in new technology in the next 12 months and 67% admitted that they do not use devices such as Smartphones or tablet computers, despite the overwhelming take up of such technology by UK business in general. This begs the question; are letting agents in danger of falling behind in the technology stakes and ultimately holding back the development of their business?

What is surprising is that whilst there is a noticeable acceptance of the importance of technology, conversely there is a real lack of adoption. For example 77% said they had never considered using a dedicated inventory software.

Furthermore 43% of those surveyed said that they believed landlords are more likely to claim against tenants at the moment, throwing the spotlight on the all important inventory report and check in/check out reporting process. Improving the efficiency and accuracy of the inventory process is critical but many of those in the study have yet to be convinced about the value of the current inventory software on the market. Only 28% felt that software could improve the standardisation of reporting and 36% believed that they offered secure storage.

Indeed, change is not something that the letting industry is accustomed to. The inventory process has remained largely the same over the last 20 years but there is technology available today that can make this process simpler, more efficient and ultimately improve any letting business.

Digitising the process has a number of benefits, beyond reducing the time spent recording the condition of a property. Looking at the bigger picture, having a legally robust historical record of a property is, surprisingly, an industry first. It’s hard to believe in fact that in the second decade of the 21st Century such a glaring gap has been allowed to remain. We hope to be able to close that gap, and drag the inventory process, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century,

Jax Kneppers has been in the construction and building industry for over 25 years. After qualifying as a mechanical engineer Jax then went on to set up his own company called Jax Kneppers Associates which he still runs today. One of the USA’s most highly respected construction consultancies, Jax Kneppers Associates also works for government agencies as well as developers, insurance companies, owners and design professionals. Jax’s depth of knowledge has also meant that he is frequently called upon to act as an expert witness in construction and property litigation cases often with millions of dollars at stake.
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