For years, people said the commercial real estate industry was too traditional to adopt tech, but now it’s happening, due in part to changing demographics in brokerages. The idea that millennials are all kids — not decisionmakers — simply isn’t true anymore, and they’re changing the CRE industry. The oldest millennials are turning 35, and they make up the majority of the workforce.
Buildout CEO Vishu Ramanathan recently spoke at Propmodo Live in New York City about how the CRE industry, once seen as “behind the times,” is adopting new technologies. From the internet of things, to driverless cars, to artificial intelligence, what’s the connection between what we see today and how these technologies will actually affect our lives?
From intuitive thermostats in homes and offices, to ridesharing, to automatically ordering your groceries and having them delivered straight to your home, the sensors and systems that have been set up to track our every move are now being optimized for our benefit.
For example, in the Buildout office’s class A building, the manual dial for changing the thermostat was removed. In order to request a temperature change in the office, someone on the Buildout team has to request a work order with the building. However, this is all part of a plan to make the climate system in the building more efficient. Gradually, the system will learn individual tenant preferences and it’ll be optimized in time.
Similarly, grocery and other retail optimization is going to happen as a result of the Amazon buyout of Whole Foods. As people shop in the stores, Amazon’s sensor technology will be able to analyze people’s shopping patterns and behaviors and make the shopping experience more efficient than ever before through updated store layouts and merchandising. As a result, retail spaces will need to adapt to tenant wants and needs.
Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft are already affecting the way people live and work in their neighborhoods, even without the imminent further disruption to location by driverless cars. The change is happening right in front of us. If you live in a big city, consider a corner store or a restaurant around a block or two away that you may have previously frequented, but don’t anymore. That’s probably because you no longer pass by it on your commute because you take a car home instead of walking or taking public transportation, or can easily visit somewhere better further away. Now that it’s easier to get anywhere at any time — even if we don’t have a car of our own — location is already becoming less important in the real estate industry.
Tech companies have begun to develop tools that handle small administrative tasks like transaction paperwork that are time consuming and that, frankly, no one really wants to do. These tools have been categorized as AI, and as they complete tasks, they gradually learn how to do them better.
Even though there is a lot of disagreement about what AI is — Face recognition? Pattern matching? — there is a general fear in the air of disintermediation at the hands of AI tools. But the fact of the matter is that once AI takes on the “busy work” that slows humans down, professionals in every industry will be able to add more value to their work. When software takes away the automatable tasks, we’ll still have our humanity, and human connection and trust will continue to be the most important parts of running a business.
Tech disruption is happening — and no one can know for sure what the future has in store, but it will be exciting. To read more on how technology will continue to have an impact on our lives and the CRE industry as a whole in the years to come, check out our blog.