The Edozo Property Podcast

The Role of Data in the Digital Transformation of Commercial Real Estate with Dan Hughes of Alpha Property Insight

May 23, 2022 Edozo Ltd Season 1 Episode 9
The Edozo Property Podcast
The Role of Data in the Digital Transformation of Commercial Real Estate with Dan Hughes of Alpha Property Insight
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Edozo Property Podcast, we talk to Dan Hughes of Alpha Property Insight, a consultancy that works with property companies to help them navigate the digital transformation of the sector.  

For many in the industry, Dan doesn’t need an introduction as he is one of the most influential voices in data and digital transformation in real estate and has previously been voted the Number 1 PropTech Influencer in the UK. 

Dan has spent his career working within the built environment having held numerous senior positions at top tier organisations including Head of Land & Property at Ordnance Survey and Director of Data and Information products for the RICS. He is also the founder of the Real Estate Data Foundation and Chairs the Land Aid Tech Network as a trustee of Land Aid, the property industry charity that aims to end youth homelessness in the UK. 

​In this episode, Dan gives us a fascinating insight into how data is transforming commercial real estate and some of the many topics covered include:

  • Dans background and career and how he got into data and technology
  • How data is being used to measure the impact on people and the environment 
  • Using new data sets beyond cashflow and comparables in the valuation process and the challenges this brings for the industry 
  • Dans take on using Digital Twins in commercial property
  • The role of institutional landlords and governing bodies in facilitating data sharing as an industry
  • The importance of having a common identifier for all UK property and use of UPRN’s 
  • Dans brilliant work with the Real Estate Data Foundation and the Land Aid Tech Network 

Follow Dan:
Dan Hughes Twitter
Dan Hughes LinkedIn

*The Edozo team is running the Land Aid 10k - any donations no mattter how small will go a long way to ending youth homlessness in the UK* Donate Here

Edozo simplifies property valuation and research with the software professionals really need.  Find out more at

The Edozo Podcast - Dan Hughes

[00:00:00] James: My guest today is Dan Hughes of Alpha Property Insight. A consultancy that works with property companies to help them navigate the digital transformation of the sector. For many in the industry, Dan doesn't need an introduction as he has one of the most influential voices in data and digital transformation in real estate.

[00:00:33] James: Dan has spent his career working within the built environment, having held numerous senior positions at top tier organisations, including head of land and property at Alden Survey and director of data and information products for the RICS. Dan is also the founder of the real estate data foundation and chairs the LandAid Tech Network as a trustee of LandAid, the property industry charity that aims to end youth homelessness in the UK. Welcomed Dan.

[00:00:56] Dan: Hi James, thank you very much for having me. How are you? 

[00:00:58] James: Yeah, really good thanks, really good. It's good to have you on. 

[00:01:01] Dan: A pleasure to be here. 

[00:01:02] James: Well look Dan, we've got a wide and varied audience. I thought we'd just start with asking you to provide a brief intro into who you are and what you're up to at the moment.

[00:01:11] Dan: Yeah, sure i'll be happy to do so, Dan Hughes, I spent my career in real estate, working across pretty much every stage of the life cycle, which has been a little bit by luck, a little bit by design. And most of that has been focused on digital transformation, data and technology and really a focus on the data side of things, but I don't think you can separate them. So I spent my career working across all parts of the sector, looking at how data and broadly technology is changing it, which I think is a really positive story. It's absolutely going in the right direction, I think it's doing lots of positive things and it's really a great outlook. I would say it's probably a little bit frustrating about the speed of it. We're not the fastest sector to change in the world, but in many ways our speed or the fact that we aren't able to move that fast is part of our attraction. So I don't want to be too critical of that either. I now run an organisation Alpha Property Insight which is a consultancy helping with a variety of different organisations all around digital transformation in the property sector, particularly focused on data strategies, helping property companies with data strategies, building those into the organisations, and also increasingly looking at digital risks.

[00:02:11] Dan: There are a huge number of benefits from technology, which I think are well documented, but there's also some risks that come with it. So I would never want to put people off using data and technology and embracing it, but I think it's worth doing it with your eyes open and understanding some of the challenges that come with it. I'm also involved with a couple of other organisations which may be worth mentioning. So one is the Real Estate Data Foundation which is a not-for-profit initiative, just trying to help the property sector do two things really. Firstly connect conversations that are happening in the well-trodden and documented silos that we operate. They work pretty well for the property sector tranditionally. But for data, they really need to be a bit more joined up. So that's what it's trying to do. 

[00:02:46] Dan: And secondly, it's trying to make sure what data ethics is part of the agenda. Personally, I haven't really come across anyone in property who's doing anything with data that is intentionally unethical, but I think that by accident, if we don't focus on what we're doing, there are challenges with the data that we're collecting on people, on buildings, on businesses to do things that are untoward, so that's the Real Estate Data Foundation. And then finally I'm involved with LandAid which is an amazing organisation which is the property industry charity and we've recently, or about a year ago, we launched the tech network. So it's designed for making LandAid a little bit easier to engage with if you work in the technology realm. So that's for technology companies, big and small, the big established ones and the small startups, but also those people who work in real estate organisations, who work in the technology side of things who are often or sometimes a little bit separate. So it's a place for everyone to come and the aim there is to start off by building a community, to raise funds. The whole purpose of LandAid is about ending youth homelessness. So really helping to bring people together and longer term a lot of the challenges that the youth homeless community face or either data and technology driven or at least data and technology can help solve them. So we're hoping to have that community so we can bring some expertise to have a bit of a difference.

[00:03:56] Dan: So I hope that gives an overall view, it's a busy time and it's an exciting time for the sector, but yeah, good to be here. 

[00:04:02] James: Okay great. No, thanks Dan. And I'm interested I mean, what got you so interested in data and specifically data in the built environment. 

[00:04:10] Dan: So I was actually brought up in an environment about technology when I was younger. So I was always talking about technology and I probably didn't really want to go into data and technology as a career. And so I did engineering at university and moved into a construction company, but it was pretty clear at the time that data and technology was going to be a driving factor behind everything that was going on. Whether that's using mobile phones, whether that's engaging with people. I worked for an elevator company for a while and did a lot of research and development with Nokia, which at the time was a leading technology company for mobile phone devices. And it was clear that the more connected the world became, the more you could do with buildings the better it can serve people, society, and the planet. 

[00:04:50] Dan: I then worked in other organisations where the same thing was true. So selling properties online and engaging with customers, CRM systems, it was all moving towards the technology side. So I jumped into the world of Ordnance Survey which is where I really got heavily involved with the data side of things. I led their activity from a land and property sector point of view and Ordnance Survey is an amazing organisation, it's got some amazing people, it's very well known for its hiking maps, which I would highly recommend, but that's, I think around 5% of their revenue. So what they do much more is it's about that geospatial data and the location data that underpins pretty much everything that people do on a daily basis, whether they know it or not, at least in their property sector.

[00:05:27] Dan: And then I worked at other organisations such as IPD, which is now MSEI looking at the investment and valuation side. So I've been able to be very fortunate to look at it from a number of different angles for sort of user end customer point of view, but also the different types of data. And it's just going up the agenda and it's getting more excited all the time. I think you see what in the consumer world could be done with data or the retail world, it's pretty exciting what's going to come next. 

[00:05:49] James: Yeah and in the context of property the subject of data covers a really broad spectrum and you know, where do you see some of the most pressing use cases for the better collection and usage of data in the built environment space?

[00:06:05] Dan: That's a great question I think it's one that really, really is worth spending a bit of time thinking about as a sector and beyond this podcast. So traditionally most of our decisions are based on pretty building focused attributes, which makes perfect sense because we work in the building industry. So number of floors, the floor plan, the size of the building, the rent and yields, the capital value, all of those, the financial and the building attributes are what we focus on. But I think we're going through a whole societal change, and certainly from a building point of view, where we're becoming much more interested in long-term value, long-term risk and in particular, the impact of buildings on people and on the environment and the wider planet. 

[00:06:41] Dan: So we need to start looking at understanding the data that informs those decisions. So for example, if you look at just people in an office building, it's becoming more important to understand as people wants to move jobs more often, we've obviously gone through COVID so there's the flexible working, should you be in the office all the time or not all the time? We need to understand what building makes people happy and productive and want to come into the office. I'm a massive believer of a blend between some working from home, some working from coffee shops, some working from sites and some working in the office. And I think that flexibility is key, but if we want people to go into offices, then it needs to be an environment which helps us do what they need to do. And to do that, to measure it, we need to collect data.

[00:07:20] Dan: So I think there's a lot of data out there, there's an awful lot of noise and we can use that data to inform all sorts of things. But generally speaking from a property sector point of view we've always focused on a very narrow amounts of data about buildings and the financials, and we need to expand significantly more out into the impact of people and society and on the planet. And the challenge with that is there are millions of data points all over the place that could be interpreted in different ways, but I'd argue that's also with a good data strategy and working with the right partners, then that's actually where the opportunity is as well. 

[00:07:50] James: Yeah great and Dan, you and I were at the CREtech London conference a week ago and ESG and decarbonising the built environment is really high on the agenda for I'd probably say most institutional landlords. And how is data and technology coming together to help this process? And what is your experience speaking to building owners about how quickly we're embracing this challenge. 

[00:08:17] Dan: Yeah again it's a really good point. I think sustainability from my perspective at least sustainability has been really pretty high up the agenda for a number of years. What's different is that people have not really wanted to go beyond talking about it. And so people are now really taking action to try and reduce the impact of buildings on the planet. Now, one of the challenges, I think that means different things to different people. So clearly with energy prices in the environment we're in at the moment going up, keeping energy costs low is really, really important. But there's also the operational carbon side of things. There's also when you start considering about the whole net zero and embodied carbon, you're talking about obviously connected, but slightly different things. And so you use the old cliche, whatever gets measured, gets managed. I think without understanding the data that's behind some of those factors, it's very difficult to start understanding how your building's performing and plan for the future.

[00:09:04] Dan: So an organisation I used to work for such as BCIS, which is the RICS construction and carbon database and data provider. They have a lot of data that is really good for understanding sustainability and embodied carbon and operational carbon, but there's also energy use, which is something which can be really understood and how you then operate that and make a change is really important. I guess one of the other things that's really important about pretty much any use of data is data is just data, it's not particularly helpful unless it gives you an insight and you can do something with it. And so identifying data that tells you something is great, and it's a good starting point, but actually being able to identify something that you can take action on is where it becomes much more useful. So as a real estate sector we're not particularly good historically at having data about building performance. So a few years ago at COP 21 in Paris, the standards and the targets we have been setting are fantastic, but we never realistically going to meet any of those without the built environments taking a very significant part. I think it's well documented 40% of carbon emissions for example come from the built environment. But we never really going to be able to change that without having the data to understand two things. 

[00:10:12] Dan: One is how do we do that and having that data to understand and improve and make actual improvements, but also really to be able to demonstrate that we are making progress in that direction. So, if you want to buy a building or you want to invest in a portfolio or whatever it might be, how do you understand what the performance of that building is? And there are lots of great answers to that, but in a standardised market way, that's the challenge that a lot of people are focusing on, but certainly one that's going to continue for a while.

[00:10:36] James: Yeah, absolutely. And I've been talking to a Bola Abisogun who was on this podcast previously, who's quite outspoken about the use of digital twins and creating digital twins of assets. He's focused on the social housing sector and uses Grenfell as a use case to talk about digital twins, how close are we to creating digital twins of commercial buildings? And what is your take on the digital twin as a subject? 

[00:11:02] Dan: That's a really, really good question. I think it's probably worth taking a step back. If we look at the point that I made earlier about the real estate sector, we tend to actually have very little data on a building. So once it's in operation, we're not that good at having data on it. The best you often have is a pretty detached building management system or some sort of FM system and maybe an ONM manual that's on the shelf somewhere or put away. So actually when we have a building, we manage, operate, own, if we didn't build it, then we don't have a huge amount of data on it very clearly. I think there's a lot of evidence on the fact that the more data you have, the better you can run it, and that means different things. So whether that's just knowing what type of device to put in, who to contact, all the way through to predictive analytics and optimising performance for building the two extremes.

[00:11:48] Dan: So we haven't been very good, and if you look at something like Grenfell, it was a pretty sad indictment I think of the industry and the real estate industry is really not moving fast enough and it's not really doing anything. It's doing a good job of pointing everyone else who needs to do something first, and that's a pretty sad reflection I think on the industry. Now, maintaining data throughout the building life cycle is clearly something that people are going to want to do. And if you look at things like BIM, building information modeling, there's been a great initiative by the UK government in particular has led the world in terms of driving that through. The problem is it's been very focused on the construction stage and hasn't always managed to get through to either the operational side of the buildings for new builds or even more critically for the existing stock. 

[00:12:29] Dan: So creating those data models has been a bit of a challenge. I think if we start talking about digital twins, I do think they probably mean different things to different people. For me, a digital twin is when there is a real relationship where you have two buildings, one in the real world, one in the virtual world and they interact and link together.

[00:12:46] Dan: And I think we're probably quite a long way off that really operating in a good dynamic way on a large scale. There are of course some good examples of that, and I think as we go through having better digital models, we put more senses in, we need to understand how things are building and operating more. We're getting closer to it, but I think that the industry has got quite a long way to go from the case studies and the exemplars that are out there on a mass basis. So if you look at the UK, I think they were around two and a half million non-residential properties. How many of those have got really any idea of what data is behind that building and what's in it. I would argue probably few of them we'd like to think. And that's, before you start getting to, who's got a digital model of the building that's kept up to date and that's before you get to, who's got an interactive digital twin. So I think there's a really positive story in a positive direction, I think we've got a way to go.

[00:13:35] James: Yeah, really interesting actually. And Dan, a lot of our clients and listeners are in the commercial property, valuation space. You know, Edozo provides amongst many things, you know, OS data, comparable data, contextual data about properties in order to inform a valuation. And how do you think the role of the valuer is going to change with an increase in building level data and the availability of data in the future?

[00:14:00] Dan: Yeah, I think it's worth just looking and reflecting sort of backwards on what the valuation process is all about. And ultimately it's to try and work out what the value of the property is. And that's a really obvious thing to say, but what drives that value is what people will pay for it when they're buying it or renting it. And what we've seen in the last few years is that people are looking at very different things and different factors when they're deciding whether to go into let's not pick on an office, but this applies to all or commercial buildings really. So if you're going into a building now, you're looking much more about whether it's going to help you retain and attract staff. And just that is a very difficult to put into data and to quantify, but those factors are becoming more important. Especially as people move jobs much more quickly, there's much more flexibility, we're in a much more competitive workplace environment, leases are much shorter. So building owners have to really start understanding how that building can help someone in an office environment to attract staff. 

[00:14:51] Dan: I've worked with property companies for who've been trying to recruit people in the technology world who've had interviews lined up and the interviewee has literally walked into the reception area and walked back out again without even going to the interview. And that says something pretty dramatic about the environment, so property decisions are being driven by very different data sets and on a much broader set of data sets. And you can extend that out to productivity, you can extend it out to prestige, impact on environment, running costs, all sorts of things. And so people who are making decisions about buying or renting a building are now looking at very, very different factors from what they would have done in the past.

[00:15:24] Dan: The valuation process needs to reflect that, so as we move from looking at comparables of here are two similar buildings, they rented at the same amounts, they must be pretty much the same value, we're having to understand those comparables, but also overlay with a lot of other data. So huge amounts of data is going to be going into the valuation process that hasn't been done in the past. If you look at the role of the valuer, then very, very crudely they collect data, they do some analysis on it, they put it into a report and then they give some advice on it. And actually the collecting of the data and the analysis is the bit that computers are super good at. They're really, really good at numbers, the sort of judgment and the advice and the talking to a client, what to do about it is where they're much less good.

[00:16:04] Dan: So I think the role of the valuer in the future is going to be really optimistic. I think that it's going to be very important, it's going to be less about a number crunching, it's going to be more about human advice. I also think that as costs go down because that number crunching gets cheaper and easier, then we'll see people needing to do valuations more often. So long gone are the 25 year leases, you buy a property every so often, everything is becoming much more fluid. So having a snapshot of what the value is and where you are is going to come significantly more important on a regular basis. So I think that the role of valuer is really, really positive, the outlook. However, I do think there are some challenges for the sector moving forward. 

[00:16:41] Dan: One of which is that the rent book valuations, as an example, but standards typically say that the valuer takes responsibility for what they do. But in fact, taking responsibility and taking responsibility for all the data that's out there then that's a really difficult thing for them to understand. So if your valuation is based on a hundred data points, then there's a value you can see where it's come from, you can check to see that it looks as though it's credible. If on the flip side it's been created by a billion data points, and it's going through lot's of different algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence and all the other buzzwords are out there. How on earth can you take responsibility for that data? And so there's a real challenge from the standards and regulations points of view, as well as the skills and education point of view to understand how that data is being created, and where we'll end up if we're not careful is we either do not very good valuations that are very transparent, or brilliant valuations that are completely opaque. What we need to do is find out a way of getting a little bit in the middle where it's really good valuations, but they are very transparent, and that's where I think the industry needs to move forward and also the people who are providing the data who are creating the analysis as well as the valuers need to work together to make sure that the overall process is joined up and works to those standards and ultimately meets the client's needs because I think that that's where there's been a bit of a gap in the past. 

[00:17:56] James: Historically data hasn't been ubiquitous across the market right. I think even just on a comparable basis, it's difficult to find and source data and there's no centralised place. They are providers of this data. But you know, the industry hasn't been great with sharing lots of data for, you know, sometimes for justified reasons, competitive reasons you don't want to give away tenancy information or the likes, to what extent will the ubiquity of data and the flow of the right information be driven by the institutional owners or owners of real estate, rather than say maybe the consultants. 

[00:18:33] Dan: It's a great question that actually just goes back to the point you made is data is the new oil is one of the expressions I really dislike. I don't think it's a very helpful thing, not because it's necessarily wrong although I think it is, what it does is it really drives and encourages that whole I'm going to hold onto all the data I can possibly get some and not share it because I don't really understand it, but it's going to be valued in future which is not correct. And so certainly people shouldn't share all data. It comes with lots of risks, but certainly identifying where there isn't a competitive edge and holding onto and where there is a benefit from a market level, sharing is something that we need to do much more. 

[00:19:04] Dan: I think the answer is probably a combination of everything. One of the things about real estate is while we're a huge sector, we're also incredibly fragmented. If you look at the pharmaceutical companies, then probably the top 10 companies have a huge market share. If you look at banking, top 10 companies have a huge market share, you look at real estate the top 10 companies, especially if you're looking at asset owners have a tiny, tiny fraction of the overall national estate. And so from a real estate point of view, actually sharing data is going to become more important as we move forward, as you have to get that market information. So for sure, some of the bigger players have a bit of a competitive advantage, and I certainly wouldn't recommend that they share everything, but at the same time, there are certain points where us sharing data as a sector is going to become more important and I think that is going to have to be driven by three or four different things. 

[00:19:51] Dan: So the first thing is I think people who have the data need to start thinking about what they should be doing with it and have a comprehensive data strategy. I think secondly, clients are starting to drive it as you alluded to there, there becoming significantly more forward thinking. I think if you look at some of the leading asset managers, investment managers that are out there, they're doing some pretty amazing stuff sometimes behind the scenes, but some of the leading real estates are doing amazing stuff with data. And I think there's then also a role for industry bodies to really drive this as well. Again, because we're so big and because we're so fragmented, we have lots and lots and lots of industry bodies. The Real Estate Data Foundation, as an example, is it's not necessarily trying to encourage people to share or not, but at least get them in a room to have the conversation. And that's being supported by a lot of industry leading bodies, such as The British Property Federation, the Association of Real Estate Funds. 

[00:20:36] Dan: So there are lots of different organisations coming together to at least support this conversation and drive it forward. I think there's one other driver behind this, which we want to probably try and avoid, which is governance and regulation. So the financial services sector, if we're particularly talking about valuation, it has very large, complex, onerous regulation that it imposes on things. And at the moment real estate is relatively speaking a light touch, and I think that as organisations if we go into being very heavily regulated, like the financial services sector, but we don't need to, then I think that would be a problem. Of course, if we need to be regulated in that way, then that's fine, but I think that doing it because we're not doing a good enough job ourselves I think is a real challenge. 

[00:21:15] Dan: So I think there's a warning there that we're in control of our own destiny as a sector. Industry bodies, clients, consultants and everyone in between, including the technology companies, but we do also need to work together to make sure that we're in charge of our own destiny and we move things forward in the right way. 

[00:21:29] James: 100%, and I think in the context of building safety, you know, I think there are regulations coming in that would mandate a level of disclosure, and force people to start coming up with plans and disclosing information about the safety of their buildings. 

[00:21:44] Dan: There is, just to pickup on that, that's an interesting point. I mean, at the moment, that's primarily the residential side of things obviously after Grenfell, which has to be a positive thing. We mentioned earlier that the sector is being accused of not really moving fast enough which is pretty frustrating, but on top of that, there's also separate projects that are looking at the home buying and selling process. There's also the renters reform bill, there's also the energy performance certificate review that's going on. There are hundreds of different projects all over the place that talk to you about how we can better use data and technology to support the operation of a building, whether that's for renting, for owning, for the environment for safety. Now that has to all be good, but if they're all completely disjointed then that's the real problem. 

[00:22:21] Dan: So there needs to be more at a sector level to tie these conversations together. We can't have one standard for everything, we can't have one conversation that covers it, but having them in completely separate rooms doesn't really work either. And one of the things that I would say at least for a UK market is the unique property reference number is a common identifier that exists within the UK. Now there are lots of different ways that we can do this, but having a common identifier for a building and an address is a significant step forward in tying those datasets together, and also allowing companies such as Edozo to better do that for clients as well.

[00:22:52] Dan: So we need to start using things like common identifier across the industry and in the UK, we have one that's managed by GeoPlace, which is part owned by Ordnance Survey and local government association, which has a UPRN that could be used, I was certainly encourage people to start looking at building that in. Now there are some complications about how it costs money and what it can be used for. UPRN broadly speaking can be shared for free, it's open data. Some of the associated data that you sometimes need to interpret it isn't. I personally would like to see the government go a little bit further in terms of making it more clearly open. But the costs are really not that prohibitive, and there's a massive opportunity for us to get things lined up and just to go through things like the BRAC building safety, golden thread reports, and also the renters reform bill and also home buying selling process and the EPC certificate and land registration, they are all starting to build in a UPRN. So over time it's a long journey, but we're making progress in that direction. 

[00:23:44] James: Dan, I want to circle back to some of your work with LandAid. We recently became a member of the tech network and you are a trustee and chair of the LandAid tech committee. Can you tell us a bit more about your mandate there and what brought you to be in that position?

[00:24:02] Dan: LandAid is an organisation I've known for pretty much all my career. I think it's to my shame, probably haven't known enough about. And so LandAid is the property industry charity, it does amazing things. It's really grown and evolved over the last number of years and it's becoming bigger and more important all the time. I think it has a real role to play and is playing a real role in the whole social movement. People now, quite rightly, and it's great that they do want to have a bit more of a social impact and I think LandAid is a fantastic way of doing that for the property industry. I was incredibly honored to be asked as a trustee two, three years ago now. I joined and part of my remit there is to help the organisation look at this growing data technology community, and how can it be helped and what's it doing. So incredibly proud to be involved with it, it's aiming to end youth homelessness. The more I find out about youth homelessness in this country, the more angry I get, it just shouldn't in my view exist and it is a really, really big problem.

[00:24:53] Dan: The problems that we've seen are multiple, there are obviously problems all over the place, but how do you find the housing? How do you allocate things? But there are some really good examples of actually measuring youth homelessness as a problem. Youth homlessness is one of two things very often. It's either sofa surfing, which is the biggest chunk of it, where you're staying in other people's rooms so it's hard to identify, and even in lockdown where that wasn't possible, people often tend to move around at night when counts are being done. 

[00:25:16] Dan: So it feels to me that there's a real opportunity for data and technology for us to bring together our collective heads to really try and help people understand what the problem is and the scale of the problem and where it is and what we could do about it. Another example would be that clearly people need to be connected, especially during lockdown. So there's a lot of great work around collecting and we're working with charities who collect and clean and then hand out the devices for companies. So a lot of real estate companies have been giving those, and we're also looking at things like connectivity, having devices doesn't work that well if you're not connected, so how can we do that? So there's a lot of work that's going on around both how can technology be used to help youth homlessness? How can we as community help with the technology problems? 

[00:25:56] Dan: At the heart of all of this of course is also fundraising. So we're getting organisations to get involved with all of the LandAid activities. So recently there's a sleep out, there's the 10K coming up, there's all sorts of events. People are running their own events, and this is a great way of getting together as a community and making a real impact on something that frankly, I don't think in this country should exist. So I'd be very happy to see youth homelessness stop, I think it's a pretty bad reflection on things, but certainly it's a great opportunity for us to get involved. I'd really love people to go and join if they're involved in the technology network, whether their tech team, tech company, the biggest, the smallest, anyone who wants to get involved, that would be amazing, and you can find things on the LandAid website. It's a very simple form, and there's not a huge amount of commitment beyond committing yourself to LandAid and getting involved. 

[00:26:41] James: Yeah, and I can vouch as a, you know, we're a tech company that has just joined the LandAid Tech Network and it's historically been very real estate focused right, and this just provides a whole new arm, it's a lot of fun, there's a great community growing community of technology and digital transformation professionals joining the LandAid Tech Network. So yeah, I can highly encourage any other companies to do it. Are you doing LandAid 10K Dan?

[00:27:06] Dan: I'm not, is this the but I can ask to be edited out? I can't do the 10K unfortunately, but I did do the sleep out, which was an amazing experience, we raised over half a million pounds, so I'll be cheering on from the sidelines, are you doing it are you in training? 

[00:27:21] James: We are indeed, we've got the Edozo athletics club is training once a week, so we need to, to get on, do some fundraising, link in the podcast show notes for a donation. 

[00:27:31] Dan: I'll be cheering on from the sides.

[00:27:33] James: Nice, nice. Well Dan, I've got one last question for you and it's around what innovative companies are you seeing in the real estate sector that are doing interesting things with data collection? Because what I can see is there's lots of people providing internet of things, sensors, trying to centralise building data, trying to bring together rent roll data for asset managers and landlords. And there seems to be a lot going on in that space, who are going to be the winners? And what are some of the really innovative companies that you see out there in the data space?

[00:28:05] Dan: That's a great question, I think I'm going to answer that backwards if that's alright, so this might be slightly ducking it. But I think in the answer of who are going to be the winners, then the really important thing is not to think about data and not to start with data. So unless you know what you're trying to achieve, what is the problem that you're trying to solve for your customer, for your staff, for your building for you whatever it might be. If you don't know what the problem you're trying to solve is, it's going to be very hard to use data to solve it. Now I would argue as a data advocate that there's normally data available that can be analysed and can be used to solve most problems or at least improve them in some shape of form. But if you don't start with understanding what that problem is, then it's really difficult to solve it. So the real winners are going to be the people who are really focused on delivering buildings that serve, finances, investors, occupiers, the planet, society, whatever it might be, it needs to serve those better. That should be the focus of everyone in the property sector. 

[00:28:56] Dan: Once we've got that then actually data and technology can have a massive benefit, but that's where it comes much better at collecting data for a very specific purpose to help us get a better outcome, rather than just the sake of collecting as much data as we can on a building to see what we can do with it. There are some benefits that can come from that approach, but knowing what we've tried to do is by far and away the best way of doing it. 

[00:29:16] Dan: So I think that the people I would say are doing amazing things are actually the people who are really focused on clever outcomes for the buildings, the environment, people in society, and then using data and technology to meet that. That said there aren't a huge number of buzzwords that are out there that haven't been around for awhile, but there's definitely a lot of companies that are using data in clever ways to inform things. What I think is really, really also important to say though, is that when you talk about blockchain and artificial intelligence and the metaverse and a lot of the words that are out there, I'm really positive about all of these and I know there are different views. It's really easy to get caught up in where we'll be in 20, 30, 40 years, to get there the organisations who are doing really good stuff, I'll both focusing on what they're trying to do, but also the really simple, structuring, understanding the role of data, understanding what they've got, working with the partners who are out there to make sure that they collect and use the data as effectively as possible.

[00:30:10] Dan: So whilst focusing on the where we'll be in 20, 30 years is really, really important. And whilst people are working on that and doing some amazing stuff. It's also really important to realise that we are, not to get too put off or worried about that, what we've got to do is focus on where we are today. So I sort of ducked the question by saying that I've not picked any of the really amazing companies, but I do think the real innovation and the real drive is what we do with buildings and how that's changing and then focusing on that using data and technology to help and starting with the basics before we go onto anything else.

[00:30:41] James: And Dan, look this has been a super interesting conversation. Where can people find out more about you and the work that you do? 

[00:30:47] Dan: Well, the best place to find me is either on LinkedIn or on Twitter @PropertyDanH. I tweet far too much on there. It's always a good place for a bit of a conversation and finding out what's going on. There's also my website, which is So is where i've got all of my things where people get in touch with me, always good to have a chat with people, always get to hear problems, especially around data strategy for real estate, to think of something that companies really often need help with and very happy to talk to people about that. 

[00:31:17] James: And Dan, I just want to finish by thanking you. You're a really positive force in the industry for digital transformation. You help tech companies like us, you help bridge that gap between the traditional sides and the technology sides. And you're also doing fantastic work with LandAid and ending youth homelessness and have corralled us, including me into the cause. So thank you for all the amazing work that you're doing across the board, and we look forward to speaking to you again soon.

[00:31:41] Dan: Thanks James.