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Friday, July 8, 2016

Technological Disruption and the Real Estate Industry

By Amy Erixon, Toronto

Many forces are combining to cause 2016 to be the year where even the most skeptical of observers is beginning to wonder, all this technological change – what do you suppose it means to me and the way I do my job?   For example, most real estate industry executives have tried Uber or Lyft and wondered, will there be companies in the business of renting space that aren’t actually landlords?  The answer is yes, and there are several.  

Perhaps you have read about or seen an office where the workforce needs to reserve a spot to work at their regular office location, via a mobile app (for example:  Deloitte’s newest offices).  These types of digital applications have the potential to disrupt not only the way physical space is being utilized but the resulting work outcome and processes by which we undertake the work - in ways we haven’t yet conceived. 

Robotics is another field that has revolutionized manufacturing and more recently legal and journalistic research.  Are you aware of how it has disrupted logistics and is poised to disrupt the construction industry?  Likewise, revolutionary high performance materials and artificially intelligent operating systems are being utilized to substantially improve environmental performance of the newest state-of-the art projects to save occupants 50% or more on their electric bills – material in jurisdictions like Ontario where power costs are 2.5 times the North American average price.  

We have entered into an era known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution where cyber physical systems, streaming technologies, online marketplaces and artificial intelligence among other innovations are supplanting the way things used to get done.  Our infrastructure investment is lagging at the same time that the merger of scientific research and engineering applications are pushing the boundaries of what kinds of buildings and places of the future are conceivable.  All of these changes are ushering an era of great opportunity for those quick to notice the patterns and embrace new technologies. 

If you would like to learn more about a sampling of these technologies and major themes at work, I invite you to read my recent Topical Report.

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