Is it time for “research-tech”?

October 17, 2017 / By  

Proptech, growth-hacking and design-think.

The modern researcher has a rich and varied vocabulary, but these words have yet to become part of standard language.

Technological advancements are disrupting every industry and here in real estate, we are no exception. We need to see technology as an enabler. Our ability to comprehend and integrate technology improvements into day-to-day working life will become important for us to survive and remain relevant. We are firm believers that human capital can be a form of sustainable competitive advantage for a company like JLL.

Enter JLL’s first ever Hackathon

I attended JLL’s first ever Hackathon in Singapore last week. The firm selected 36 innovators from across Asia Pacific to build new apps and technologies to keep our offering relevant, and where possible, lead the way.

Picture1_17Oct2017JLL’s first ever hackathon at HyperIsland, Singapore

How can we disrupt Research?

The hackathon made me think – how can we disrupt research?

The traditional research model looks like this:

  1. Think of a topic.
  2. Build a hypothesis.
  3. Formulate research questions.
  4. Look for data.
  5. Analyse it and present our conclusions.

It’s a model that has served us well, but in the age of fast information, the time taken to work through these steps has to be quicker.

The “Big-Data Wranglers”

Over the next five, 10, or 15 years’ time, new professions will emerge under the “research” umbrella. Robots could be crunching the numbers while analysts generate conclusions and present their findings.

The Canadian Scholarship Trust gives us an insight into the 2030 labour market ( They describe a job called “Big Data Wrangler”, which sounds like where the modern researcher is headed. It is not that technology will steal our jobs but rather change them.

10 years from now we will look at Excel the way we look at floppy disks today. When I was at university, the course offerings at the University of Wollongong were fairly vanilla: Commerce, Arts or the Sciences. Today they offer a “Masters in Machine Learning and Big Data” and a “Centre for Data Analytics and Intelligent Systems”.

How do I get started?

If there is one thing I learnt at the Hackathon, it is that innovation can be developed very easily and quickly if you have the right framework to approach the problem. When I returned to Sydney I put this into practice and built a prototype for an online chatbot that could create a much quicker live forum to answer client queries – all in 30 minutes.

In a world where data mining and analysis tools are ubiquitous, it will come back to human capital to generate a sustainable competitive advantage.

So go for it – disruption is not as hard as you think.

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