Joined-up PropTech
What is an API anyway?

If you work in the PropTech industry, you may use the abbreviation ‘API’ dozens of times a day. If you work in PropMgt, then you will have increasingly overheard the term and may wonder what the tech geeks are talking about.

A straw poll that we conducted with property managers at a recent event demonstrated that none of those we asked knew what ‘API’ stood for and only a couple knew what one was. ‘Application Programming Interface’ isn’t all that catchy and much like the long versions of HTML and wifi, the abbreviation is far more user-friendly.

So what is an API?

It’s a software intermediary that makes it possible for computer programmes to talk to each other – and crucially, share data one or both ways.

In the property management industry specifically, the PropTech revolution is in full swing, with even the most traditional, paper-obsessed managing agents showing signs of genuine interest. Investing in PropTech is a no-brainer as most would agree, however choosing the right software to best suit your organisation and your customers is all important.

The right software for your company...

The ‘right’ software used to be just one product, partly because the need for smart workflow and communication tools had not yet been realised. So the focus was purely on running an accounts package to retain lessee/client details and demand service charge and ground rent. There was also the fact that the main accounting back-end packages were rather insular when it came to integrating with other pieces of software.

Times have changed and managing agents want to work smarter and allow their customers to be more self-sufficient.

In the last 10 years, managing agents – particularly the larger ones – have run multiple systems, aiming to get the best of all worlds. Inevitably, this leads to confusion, duplication of entering data, conflicting data, clunky processes and stressed-out property managers.

Fast forward to the present day and the appetite for the best software packages fulfilling different needs has not floundered. In fact, the appetite is greater than ever but no longer will managing agents easily endure separate software packages sitting independently on their server or in the cloud, hence the move toward open APIs – i.e. software designed to be open to integration with other software.

So the right software for the modern, forward-thinking managing agent is most often a combination of the best software that fulfils specific tasks – fully integrated.

It is difficult to predict where PropTech will go in the future. Virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) applications in property very much exist and there is a future for both in the property management sector specifically.

It’s what doesn’t currently exist that we need to be prepared for and that means software with open APIs, ready to plug into robust back-end systems and the smart tech of the future.

Dave Piggin is the founder and managing director of Dwellant. Its open approach to software integration means formal and fruitful partnerships with major accounts package providers such as Qube PM/Horizon, Propman and Tramps. Contact Dave or a member of the sales team for more information about how Dwellant can transform your proptech proposition.