You may be reading this on a tablet or phone, and you may have integrated technology into your work with great success. Still, the real estate industry overall, and commercial real estate in particular, is notorious for being reluctant to adopt new technology.
Part of the issue may be the sheer size of our industry. Commercial real estate in the U.S. represents around $15 trillion in assets, and involves a wide range of professions, from brokers to banks to builders. This sort of sprawling industry can certainly benefit from technological innovation, and many are finding tools to improve performance and efficiency. It just takes time for the idea to get around in many cases. Once a product is seen to be useful to others in the field, people tend to hop on board, but most are not interested in being the first to try a new technology. People are busy. Finding good tools takes time. Learning new technology can be frustrating.
One of the ten major points of 2015’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate report from Urban Land Institute is our industry’s “love/hate relationship” with technology. The discussion suggests that this will intensify, but at the same time mentions that there is less fear of disruption. The industry is beginning to look ahead to new technologies being developed to determine what opportunities they will present rather than focusing on potential problems.
Meanwhile technology is changing the way that space is used and how we think about location. Commercial real estate professionals are beginning to take advantage of the wealth of data that tech tools can provide – detailed information on markets and individual properties, easy and concise property comparisons, and services that package data for ease of sharing and analysis.
There’s no avoiding technology in any business, and we can view it as an obstacle or an opportunity. Time spent exploring tools that have potential for improving efficiency is not wasted, and will pay off in the future. Still, it’s important to be selective and rely on expert guidance to save time. Read up on what industry leaders are using and make it a practice to keep your eye on developing applications. Events like CRE/Tech Intersect are devoted entirely to showcasing and discussing new technology for the industry. Even if you can’t attend, the information is there for you online.
While commercial real estate’s relationship with technology is not quite where we’d like it to be, it appears that the industry is becoming more comfortable with seeking out new tools that meet our needs, and in response there’s a lot of work going on here at Motionloft to create technology that’s customized for CRE professionals.