If you are like me, (I am 53) or maybe a few years older or younger, technology isn’t something that comes very natural or intuitively to you. We weren’t born with a device or screen in our hands so it’s understandable that we aren’t completely immersed in how things work under the hood, tech-wise. But that hasn’t stopped us from being completely addicted to these tools now.
But unfortunately, being ignorant to tech is going to be the professional demise of my peer group unless many in the commercial real estate sector answer the alarm calls that people like me have been making. And that is, if you are not investing in becoming more tech aware and capable, you are going to get wiped out by a tsunami of job losses that are coming to our industry. Alarmist? For sure! Is this definitely happening? More likely than not!
As example, read this amazing report from CB Insights on how automation will impact the current white-collar job sector.
Or this great blog by my friend Jon Schultz on the same topic.
I found myself at this same crossroads a few year back. While I was at the top of my game running my PR firm, I sensed something was in the air for both me and for my profession. I could see that technology was beginning to impact every part of my job, profession and the commercial real estate industry at large. I knew that I was completely unprepared to survive and thrive in this tech-enabled future. True, I could have survived, as my firm was doing great, but would I thrive? Would I have that sense of really being thrilled to go to work each day? The feeling that I was on the right side of history? Nope, in those areas I knew I was failing. And it was eating me up inside.
So I took the leap and went head first into tech with my first site, The News Funnel. In the process, I read everything. I talked to anyone I could. And I also started to acquire and build things that I thought would help the commercial real estate industry discover tech, such as CREtech.com, which has grown into the industry leader for tech events, data, news and more.
As a student of tech, I saw that AI, machine learning and robotics were reshaping virtually every major industry on the planet. Financial services, legal, healthcare, and on and on we’re experiencing profound job losses but also incredible innovation as a result of tech.
And I knew that our commercial real estate industry would not be immune. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that one day soon tech would have a profound impact on how we as professionals operate and communicate, how buildings themselves would operate, how marketing would change and how data would dominate. And while I don’t claim to have all of the answers, I do know that if you are in data assemblage, marketing, sales, management or even construction, you will be impacted. Machines will enable companies to do more with less people. It’s not just about job losses either, it’s about WHO will rise to the top in this new tech era in commercial real estate.
The upside to all of this is that there will be a premium on those that can do one or two things… 1) Be a data scientist, or at least be the one that has the greatest knowledge of all things tech on your team or within your organization or 2) Sell and lead! Those with the ability to think strategically, motivate others, convince people of a desired strategy and set a course for any company will thrive. In fact, they will go right to the head of the class. But if you are in the middle (and perhaps neither of those two), what do you do NOW? It’s simple… Pay fucking attention to what is happening, first and foremost. Come to an event. Read a few of the tech sites daily like TechCrunch, CB Insights and RE:Code. Watch videos of tech visionaries talking about the future. Buy a book like “Rise of the Robots”. Start connecting with startups and learn about their products. Try some of their products. Engage with them and offer feedback, which we are all seeking, all of the time.
Simply immerse yourself in tech by being knowledgeable. It’s never too late. As for the notion that tech is just for the next gen, I say “BULLSHIT”! Most of the people I work with in tech are of my generation (ok, maybe a few years younger 🙂
And then, as a result, when your number comes up and bossman or bosswoman wants to see you, it’s to promote you, not cut you 🙂