Technology is Going to Change Everything Everywhere: Sooner Than You Think

This is the fourth of five articles in a series entitled “Technology is Going to Change Everything for Everyone Everywhere: Sooner Than You Think.” addressing the opportunities available in a rapidly transforming marketplace, that have been pulled from a speech I gave on June 9, 2016 in Calgary at the Real Estate Strategy & Leasing Conference. 

In parts one, two and three of this series, which can be found herehere; and here, respectively, we looked at how emerging technologies and millennials are creating unprecedented opportunities in commercial real estate and across industries and began discussing the impacts these opportunities are having on the marketing industry. Here in part four, I will continue to talk about these impacts more generally. 

Let me summarize where we've got to for moment:

The world of office space sales and leasing, industrial markets, retail space, and everything else that sector knows and loves is going to look like this:


Whatever happens next, you can do one of two things. One, you can get ready to take advantage of it and be one of the victors; or, two, you can bury your head in the sand and hope it all goes away.

The commercial real estate industry, famously, likes the latter of those two approaches. Time for some tough love here: I can’t think of another industry other than commercial real estate that is so slow to embrace change in the way things have always been done.

Commercial real estate is still largely about whom you golf with - about your network of buddies. About passing the network along to the next generation. It’s about listing properties based on certain key features. And it’s about those almost-identical listing brochures and online listing sites and OMG I am so bored even just writing about this stuff.

It’s time for change.

There are outliers: I have seen and worked on commercial real estate projects where the players are willing to try something new.  Those of you who are experimenting with staying contemporary – I applaud you. But it’s not enough.

Remember, this is where you are heading as an industry:


And to get ready you need to do the biggest pivot of your lives.

Your network is shrinking and capital is portable - the next deal isn’t with the guy you golf with, it’s with someone from a country you’ve never been to with a name you can’t pronounce who doesn’t speak your language. So the first thing we can all do: property owners, service providers, brokers, builders - whoever you are - is make it easy to be found.

Figure out how to reach out to the global village. Build your own brand and your company brand by meaning something.

Stand up and tell a story you are passionate about.  Build a following. Get people excited about what you are excited about. Don’t be scared to be specialists instead of generalists. Write blogs. Attract attention. Be known far and wide.

And be prepared to pay for it.

If you own a building you want it to be a famous building. Your broker shouldn’t have to pay for that: you need to invest in telling stories and building a brand for your building. Brands are built with stories, and it costs good money to tell good stories and to do it consistently and well.

If you are leading a company, you need to get involved and be the spokesperson for your company. It’s not a job for your receptionist. You can’t say, “Oh I’m not into that social media stuff,” because it’s not social media anymore. It’s the media.

Newspapers are folding. TV is dead. The post office is on the verge of bankruptcy. Magazines are dying. It’s all online. The whole world has become virtual. If you aren’t online, you aren’t in the world anymore.

The good news is that online is 100% democratic. You can do it. Anyone can and everyone is.

The hardest part of all of this is deciding to do it. Doing it is not hard. It’s the ability to shed the dinosaur skin and decide that you are going to embrace the new world and abandon your comfort zone – that’s the hard part.

Part five of “Technology is Going to Change Everything for Everyone Everywhere: Sooner Than You Think. will give you five tips in order to survive and thrive through the coming disruption.