When I talk about the future of real estate, I often get challenged when I raise concerns over the pace of technological change and its impact on the built environment and professionals within it.
Some say we’ve lived with technological change and I’m just scaremongering; others say that change is accelerating faster than I am predicting as a result of expected technological disruption.
Whoever is right, the reality is that disruption and uncertainty are our new normal and, for the property sector at least, the technological revolution hasn’t really yet hit us… but it is coming.
In the RICS report Our Changing World: Let’s Be Ready, published in 2014, we found that the number-one concern of employers was attracting top talent through to 2030, especially in terms of new entrants and data analysts. The number-one concern of professionals was how they could remain relevant in an ever-changing and technologically advancing environment.
The proptech events we hosted at Mipim at that time were fairly well attended, but now there is standing room only at such events – so what has changed?
Technology usage and advancement in the built environment sector is not new, but it is evolving and forcing change on a number of levels.
Many organisations, including my own, are looking at how technology can improve efficiency and expediency in algorithmic, time-consuming, repetitive and labour-intensive tasks.
We also need to work with our clients to help create real value. Property, people and place need to operate more synergistically using enabling technology and the ‘Internet of Things’ to help people better interact with – and change – their working and built environment. Meanwhile, clients need to be looking to embed technology in the built environment and analyse how it is used so they can improve the user experience.
It is no wonder that many successful companies are looking hard at investing and collaborating in proptech and many in our sector are now employing chief digital officers.
At CBRE, we have just launched our findings from Portfolio 2040. Proptech was at the heart of four key themes that emerged when we talked to our clients, both occupiers and investors:
- This will be an age of permanent disruption;
- We will see the rise of the sharing ecosystem;
- Talent will be transformed and enabled by virtual and digital technologies; and
- Our entire concept of ‘place’ will radically transform.
Data is, and will continue to be, king and that is not going to change with GDPR. The reality is that we are generating, consuming and analysing data like never before. Those that can utilise this data to best effect will be the ones that succeed.
As JF Kennedy once said: ”Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”