Author: Kyle Sischo, Colliers International
As we continue through the digital revolution, we are constantly bombarded with new software on a regular basis. Often these new upgrades promise improvements in productivity, efficiency and value.
However, these advances do not come without potential consequences such as the impact on employment. This risk is often referred to as technological unemployment. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) advances are no exception and do not go without unemployment risks for many industries in the service sector including the CRE community.
If you were born before the early 80’s, you probably remember when Marty McFly first took the DeLorean to California where he landed in the future year of 2015. He flew around on a hover board (while escaping Biff Tannen), wore an automatically drying jacket and thought we was going to be eaten by a great white shark hologram.
Some of these futuristic advances may be slightly behind, but the Augmented Reality (hologram scenario) is quickly making its way into many major markets around the world. In the day and age where companies obtain value through monitoring our purchases and habits, retailers are already using new technology for facial recognition so they can identify shoppers for a variety of reasons.
At a recent CRE tech conference, the prospects of AR advances left many brokers wondering how their future revenue stream will be affected. We were shown many platforms that are already in place at many large markets worldwide and also some that will be hitting mainstream after a few more small advancements. We witnessed AR glasses which allowed shoppers to view “pop out” advertisements while they walked down the street (some tailored directly to them due to facial recognition). We also saw high-rise buildings with huge AR banners on them. This lends the question as to who has the rights to the revenue stream from that advertisement and will the building owner even be aware. How will this advancement change the value of these high-rise buildings? Though there are certainly negative views on these advances, some are embracing it due to the sheer efficiency and experience they receive.
Specific to real estate and the advisors in the room, we witnessed AR glasses which allowed for an individual to look at a building and see a variety of factors such as vacancies, occupants, rental rates, building efficiencies, building amenities and much more. What caused the bubble in the room to deflate was when a video popped up showing a hologram real estate agent who was taking a client on a tour. The prospective lessee was able to put the glasses on and receive a guided tour of the city and specific buildings, where this individual could see which spaces were available to them and were even able to walk into the space and project possible finishes and buildouts real time. All without a real-life real estate agent.
As with all service-related jobs, we have to bring value to the end consumer. Even more so with these technological advances, real estate experts need to think beyond the box to strategize how they will continue to bring value to clients. One thing that it doesn’t appear AI or AR will be able to compete with (as of now) is the emotional intelligence of humans.