Common interest

One of the challenges to investing in Proptech is the immature digital status of our industry. With a proliferation of products in most segments aimed at doing the same thing, the industry awaits the shakeout that will give comfort on which few will endure and on the many that will fail. A further barrier to investment comes in the lack of common standards that are needed to create confidence in a whole category of products. Common standards tend to arise from either a category killer achieving market dominance, or from competitive cooperation between industry players. A commonly cited example of the latter is the USB interface. Lacking any common industry standard for connecting devices to PCs, accessory manufacturers had to pick a horse from the stable of PC manufacturers that they believed would give them the largest addressable market. This artificially constrained the market size for accessories, making the customer experience worse, which in turn was not helpful for PC manufacturers. In response, 7 of them led by Intel got together, agreed a common standard and the USB was born. The same principles now hold true for our industry around data and platforms. The currently incoherent muddle and push for proprietary standards serves no one. In the absence of friendly ‘coopertition’, the industry will end up with fewer useful products and a few monopolistic aggregators. As we look forward to the new year, isn’t it time that the industry got serious on this subject?