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Is ConTech and PropTech more of an enabler than a disrupter?

2 MIN READJune 27, 2019
The GRI Club Real Estate India club meeting took place on June 12th, in JLL’s Global Center of Excellence in Bengaluru. Some of the leading construction and real estate players debated at length at how technology is transforming the scene and the startups are attracting more investors than ever before.
For construction, technology has to make it either faster, cheaper, or smarter for it to be valuable. However, while many attending the meeting acknowledged the overall lack of market penetration of tech in India, it is generally agreed this leaves a very high potential for ConTech and PropTech to rapidly grow in the coming years. 
 
So can PropTech be an enabler? According to attendees, the biggest challenge that developers in India face today is getting skilled construction labourers. So there can be two solutions for this - either use technology to mass-upgrade the labour pool or implement a technology that is labour free.
 
There has also been a rise in the pursuit of alternate construction methods that focus on saving time or subverting costs. There are allegedly well over a thousand Indian startups currently exploring alternate building materials such as Lego-esque plastic blocks or ‘Honeycomb’ blocks. However, the room discussed the longevity and scalability of such an enterprise and why the lack thereof has meant uptake has been quite slow. In addition to this, there was some concern that customers tend to be naturally wary towards unconventionally constructed buildings. 
 
But what is the status of digitalisation in the construction industry?
The skill set available for the implementation of digitalisation in the industry is currently limited. This may be due to the difficulty of training employees for such an advanced craft. One key leader present even went as far as to say that to be productive, “the entire ecosystem of construction needs to support digitisation.” Everyone agreed that digitisation would help in conflict management, quality control and scalability.
 
For more info on how technology is disrupting the real estate market, the first GRI PropTech India will take place on 18 September in Mumbai. India GRI 2019 is taking place concurrently, and will feature broader discussions on all real estate asset classes in the region. 

Article by Matt Harris
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