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‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ – My day at CREtech

CREtech 2024
By Atif Nawaz
23 May 2024
Prop Tech

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to attend the first day of CREtech London 2024 at Magazine London, overlooking the bustling Canary Wharf district.

I attended the year before so had a good idea of what to expect from this large-scale event, which invites real estate professionals to network, experience, and learn about how innovation and technology are transforming the built environment – though I must say it felt as if this year's edition had been taken up a notch or two. New to 2024, delegates at CREtech could participate in breakout sessions – CREtech Conversations – to engage in curated and meaningful discussions on AI, climate change, affordable housing, and so on with like-minded attendees.

I took advantage of CREtech's peer-to-peer networking, which, through an AI-driven matchmaking app called Brella, allowed me to seamlessly book one-to-one meetings with other attendees, helping to foster new relationships and share views on the real estate sector. It was quite impressive the way Brella was able to match me with individuals whose work I was genuinely interested in, which has led me to think AI-based apps of this nature should be included in every large-scale conference in the future.

The discussions on the agenda for the day ranged from a panel event on breathing life back into spaces, places, and cities, to a conversation around cyber security and the threats to the built environment. The impressive selection of panel speakers were unafraid to lay down the stark reality of where the real estate industry is today, in a world full of economic and political uncertainty. 

A particular highlight for me was listening to the discussion between JLL's CEO Christian Ulbricht, JLL Spark (its venture capital arm) Managing Partner Raj Singh, and Head of Content at CREtech, Emily Wright, on the impact of AI on commercial real estate. Whilst AI is and will be an important component for real estate going forward - property players will need to “jump on the train or be left behind," said Ulbricht - a more paramount issue will be ensuring that a company's office environment is healthy. Singh added, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and I could not agree more. Regardless of the size of a business, AI can only enhance corporate culture, it cannot be its foundations.

The day finished with a keynote address from the Head of Google Maps, Ed Parsons, which was fitting considering many of the attendees would be frantically using this app soon after to find a way home amid train strikes. Parsons was adamant that AI is still very much in its infancy – albeit, evolving rapidly - and that much more is to come from Google with the assistance of Bard in years to come.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would recommend anyone interested in the future of real estate to look into attending next year – I’ll see you there!