ULI: Disruptive technology in commercial real estate


According to participants at a December 2015 symposium held in Hong Kong by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the World Economic Forum, the “fourth industrial revolution” — involving machines communicating with each other— is imminent and will be as hugely impactful on the global economy and real estate industry as the three preceding industrial revolutions… The January 2016 white paper Disruption—Buzzword or Reality [PDF] summarizes the symposium discussions…

The future of commercial real estate technology is discussed, with an emphasis on the need for quicker and more widespread adaptation of innovative technology by the industry as a whole. The report notes that virtual reality software is particularly promising tool, in terms of its ability to help potential users visualize the space they will be occupying…

The report cites discussions about changes in office space, noting that the rapid adoption of shared space, or “co-working” spaces is quickly changing the leasing model from one that traditionally has been more long-term and rigid to a much more flexible approach that accommodates the proliferation of quick turnover and the needs of short-term users…

Top takeaways from the symposium

  • The speed at which technological innovation is arriving continues to increase, as does the speed of adoption. New tech is therefore affecting the real estate industry on an unprecedented scale.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) will disrupt the status quo in both small ways (ordering groceries) and big (managing citywide traffic flows). Interactivity will be key.
  • As an industry, real estate remains generally conservative and behind the curve in responding to innovation.
  • The millennial generation is an increasingly important part of the equation, partly because millennials are increasingly prominent demographically, and partly because they have an instinctive grasp of the potential of new technology.
  • The mobile phone has become the main platform by which this innovation is being adopted by the consumer.
  • We should focus on services rather than on hardware—apps are more important than tools.
  • Shared workspaces will be big, transforming workspace use.

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