Interviewer: SEUNG JUN OH
You topped the rank in the UK and was ranked the 9th most important Commercial Real Estate People to follow on twitter on Duke Long’s list. What do you think made you so successful in social media?
ANTONY: Twitter rewards effort. It is no surprise that of the major social media channels it has the smallest number of regular users (330 million against Facebook’s 2 billion) because you have you put in a fair amount of work to build up the list of people you follow and to build your own following.
The reward though is huge; my timeline on Twitter is endlessly fascinating. I follow a large number of extremely interesting, thoughtful and in many cases very successful people. If you engage thoughtfully with people it is extraordinary the connections you can make. I would say I have met more interesting people via Twitter than any other way.
I have always been a news junkie and am a voracious learner. So, Twitter suits me very well; I put a lot of effort in to circulating ideas, thoughts and miscellaneous content and love a good debate. In return, a lot of people seem to enjoy following me, and arguing back!
SEUNG JUN OH: You have read History and History of Art for your Bachelors course at University of Bristol. Can you tell us why you have moved onto the field of real estate?
ANTONY: After University, I worked in Advertising for just six months before joining a high-end Art Dealer, based in Belgravia. This is a most wonderful job but not terribly exerting. As such many dealers, at least in those days, took to property developing as a sideline. We were lucky enough to have an art client who funded our developing and we built a number of residential developments in central London.
Our show apartments were very stylish.
“By far the most interesting topic for me, which I focus on, is how technology is changing the way we all ‘work, rest and play’, and how in turn that impacts on all aspects of the built environment.”
SEUNG JUN OH: It says on www.antonyslumbers.com that you have been writing a monthly column on Technology & Property in the Estates Gazette since 2014. What were the most interesting topics for you that you have written about until now?
ANTONY: By far the most interesting topic for me, which I focus on, is how technology is changing the way we all ‘work, rest and play’, and how in turn that impacts on all aspects of the built environment. Technology leads behaviour; as new tools become available we humans rapidly pick up on the ones we like and behaviours can change rapidly and pervasively. The Smartphone for instance, has had an incredible impact on many aspects of everyday life.
SEUNG JUN OH: In real estate, you have to ask what will change in a world where we no longer need an office to work or a shop to go shopping?
ANTONY: It is really quite an existential question, and that makes it fascinating, challenging and hopefully rewarding if one gets the answer right.
SEUNG JUN OH: You run quite a lot of websites relating to consulting on commercial real estate properties. Can you tell us a little bit about these websites and how they can help?
ANTONY: I wear several hats. First, I run CityOffices.net which since 1999 has tracked all Prime office developments across London and major UK cities. We follow a project from pre-planning through to completion and letting, recording the history and the team involved. This is a subscription service offering a wealth of data on all the major players in the industry.
Glasnost21.com is a Software as a Service suite of productivity tools:
CRM, Project & Image Management, and a business development module, Pipeline. It is a great product for small (up to 50 or so) businesses or teams to use to keep everyone in the loop of ongoing business. Another subscription service, it is widely used by people from different areas of the real estate industry. And then with my own antonyslumbers.com hat on I offer workshops, seminars and talks on ‘Digital Transformation’ and ‘New Business Models for Real Estate’. These are where I get to dive deeply into the technology/real estate interface, and help people navigate and prosper from a rapidly changing environment.
And lastly, with twenty years’ experience designing, coding and running software products and services, I help people develop the digital side of their own businesses.
SEUNG JUN OH: You have presented at our Shopping Centre Investment Course as an expert on retail technology changes and the impact they have on commercial real estate properties. Can you outline the major changes that need to be considered for commercial real estate owners and investors in the future?
ANTONY: As mentioned above technology enables us to work without offices and shop without shops. So, what is the point of real estate? What happens when our customers no longer NEED our product? The answer lies in defining what it is that will make our customers WANT our product, despite not needing it. And that depends on data: about our customers, the ‘Job they need to do’ and our spaces and places. There are many answers, but the game is changing profoundly. What is needed are better retailing skills, better use of human skills, much better use of technology and a deep understanding and embrace of data. There is a huge amount of value destruction coming in real estate in the next 5-10 years, but also a huge amount of value creation. The problem is that the old ways of avoiding the former and making the latter are changing.
SEUNG JUN OH: As an expert in bringing firms up to date with technology, do you have any other key industries besides commercial real estate that you have your eyes on that may encounter major technological changes in the near future?
ANTONY: A recent report from the RICS stated that 88% of the tasks a surveyor currently does are replaceable with technology sometime over the next 10 years. McKinsey said earlier this year that 49% of ALL tasks performed in business are replaceable by currently demonstrable technology.
In a nutshell, every industry is going to be radically changed by technology over the coming years. For good and for bad. Understanding why and how this will happen is important for everyone. As is building up business models and value propositions to capitalise on all the opportunities, whilst avoiding the pitfalls. As the great Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” After all you do not have to outrun the robots; you just need to outrun your peers.